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Indie Book Publishers
Hall of Fame

If you love books and book publishing,
you'll love the following indie book
publishers, all of whom have gone on to
great success in publishing good books.

John Kremer, author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books maintains this list of the top indie book publishers who do $50,000,000 in sales per year but less than $200,000,000.

Also eligible to be featured in this Indie Book Publishers Hall of Fame are any book publishers who reached this level of sales before being acquired by another company and losing their independence. Finally, I have also included several book distributors who have reached this level of success.

Please note that I have not verified financial statements from any of these companies. Thus, some might have sales under $50,000,000, but they are certainly close and do deserve to be in this hall of fame.

If you know of any other indie book publishers who should be inducted into this hall of fame, please email John Kremer. I'd love to add the names of old-time independent publishers who have grown into or merged with larger companies.

Andrews McMeel, 4520 Main Street, Kansas City MO 64111; 816-932-6700; 800-826-4216; Fax: 816-932-6749. While this company is not a complete independent, since it is associated with Universal Press Syndicate, it has been family owned since it was founded in 1970. They have had dozens of bestsellers. Specialties: humor, cartoon, consumer interest, general, calendars. Recently, they have expanded their distribution service for other publishers.

Avalon Publishing Group, 245 West 17th Street, 11th Floor, New York NY 10011-5300; 646-375-2570; Fax: 646-375-2571. Avalon Travel Publishing, 1400 65th Street #250, Emeryville CA 94608; 510-595-3664; Fax: 510-595-4228. This company grew out of Publishers Group West, a distributor listed below, as PGW began acquiring some of the companies it distributed. Now independent, Avalon consists of a number of smaller publishers, including Avalon Travel Publishing (Moon Publications, Foghorn Press), Carroll & Graf, Thunder's Mouth, Nation Books, Seal Press, Shoemaker & Hoard Publishers, and Marlowe & Co.

Cedco Publishing, Charles Ditlefsen, President; Mary Sullivan, VP, Director of Licensing; 100 Pelican Way, San Rafael CA 94901; 415-457-3893; 800-227-6162; Fax: 415-457-4839. Email: 1996 income: $43.5 million. Founded in 1980. Specialties: children's books, calendars, lots of licensed products (Star Wars, Dilbert, Anne Geddes). Made the 1998 Inc. 500! Cliff is a member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame.

Chronicle Books — Jack Jensen, Publisher; Nion McEvoy, Editor-in-Chief; 85 Second Street, San Francisco CA 94105; 415-537-4460; 800-722-6657; Fax: 415-537-3730. Email: Specialties: “Chronicle Books specializes in high-quality, reasonably priced books for adults and children. Our titles include best-selling cookbooks; fine art, design, photography, and architecture titles; full-color nature books; award-winning poetry and literary fiction; regional and international travel guides; and gift and stationery items.”

Creative Publishing International, 5900 Green Oak Drive, Minnetonka MN 55343; 612-936-4700; 800-328-0590; Fax: 612-988-9101. Founded in 1969 as Cy DeCosse Incorporated, then bought by Cowles Enthusiast Media in 1994. In 1998, CPI was bought out by a management group and structured again as a private company. Their Singer Sewing Reference Library has sold 8,000,000 copies. They also publish other high-quality photographic books on crafts, home improvement, cooking, hunting, fishing, history, collectibles, equine, and healthy lifestyles. They also own NorthWord Press, another great publisher. Annual sales: $40 to $50 million.

F. A. Davis Company, Robert H Craven Jr., President, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia PA 19103; 215-568-2270; 800-523-4049; Fax: 215-568-5065. Email: Established in 1879, this publisher of books for nursing students and health professionals, did $30 million in sales in 2004. They have been led and owned by members of the same family for all 125+ years of their existence. They have 108 employees and are NOT for sale despite aggressive interest.

F&W Publications, 4700 E Galbraith Road, Cincinnati OH 45236; 800-289-0963; Fax: 513-531-7107. Owns Writer's Digest magazine and several book clubs. Originally founded in 1868 as a printer. Imprints: Writer's Digest Press, North Light Books, Betterway Books, David & Charles, Story Press. Specialties: writing, graphic arts, short stories, fiction, business, career, home remodeling, wood-working, general. In 2001, they had sales of $106 million. In March 2002, they were sold to Aurelian Communications for $130 million. In July 2002, they bought Krause Publications out of Wisconsin. Their revenues for 2002 were $110 million in book sales and $110 million in magazine sales. In July 2003, they bought Adams Media. 2004 total sales were $250 million. In 2005, they were sold to Aubry Partners for $500 million.

Health Communications,  Peter Vegso, Publisher, Enterprise Center, 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach FL 33442; 954-360-0909; 800-441-5569; Fax: 954-360-0034. Publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, this publisher also publishes magazines. Specialties: psychology, self-help, inspiration, recovery. On May 14, 1998, they had their first USA Today #1 bestseller, Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul, as well as ten other books in slots 6, 7, 14, 22, 26, 53, 77, 105, 111, and 135. In 1998, their sales topped $95 million.

Hoover's Inc., Gary Hoover, 1033 La Posada Drive #250, Austin TX 78752; 800-486-8666; Fax: 512-374-4501. Email: Specialty: business guides and reference books. In 2002, Hoover's was sold to Dun & Bradstreet for $117 million.

Hungry Minds, John Kilcullen, President, 919 E Hiltsdale Avenue #400, Foster City CA 94404; 415-655-3000; Fax: 415-655-3299. Web: Formerly known as IDG Books. A division of the International Data Group, publishers of magazines. Specialties: computer books, Dummies® lifestyle books. They've sold more than 90,000,000 copies of the Dummies titles. They acquired Macmillan General Reference for $75 million (Betty Crocker, Weight Watchers, Burpee, Howell Book House, Frommers, etc) as well as Cliff Notes before running into financial difficulty. In August 2001, they were sold to John Wiley & Sons for $90 million in cash and $92.5 million in debt assumption.

Independent Publishers Group, Mark Suchomel, President, 814 N Franklin Avenue, Chicago IL 60610-3109; 312-337-0747, ext. 209; 800-888-4741; Fax: 312-337-1807. Email: Curt Matthews, CEO; Email: One of the top three independent book distributors and as well as a publisher of Chicago Review Press and a number of other indie publishing companies.

Klutz Books, John Cassidy, Founder, 2121 Staunton Court, Palo Alto CA 94306; 415-857-0888; 800-558-8944; Fax: 415-857-9110. Specialty: childrne's and adult activity books with attached toys. Bought in 2000 for $74 million by Nelvana, which in turn was bought by Corus Entertainment. In March 2002, Scholastic bought Klutz for $43 million.

National Book Network, Jed Lyons, President, 4720 Boston Way #A, Lanham MD 20706-4310; 301-459-3366; Fax: 301-459-2118. Miriam Bass, Marketing Director. Distributes for 63 publishers. Among added services, NBN offers their credit line with printers and a twice-yearly roundtable for publishers. They send a biweekly letter of breaking book news to key accounts and other contacts. $19 million in sales in 1995; $27 million in 1996; now close to $50 million. Discount: 27% of net sales with additional fees for returns, catalogs, and storage. Currently distribute about 3,000 titles. NBN is a division of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, which also owns Ivan R. Dee, Lexington Books, Scarecrow Press, University Press of America, and several other publishers.

O'Reilly & Associates, Tim O'Reilly, Publisher, 101 Morris Street, Sebastopol CA 95472; 707-829-0515, ext. 266, Fax: 707-829-0104. Email: Starting out as a self-publisher of UNIX books, O'Reilly is now the fourth largest computer trade book publisher. Specialty: UNIX, software, computers. Annual sales: $30 million. Tim O'Reilly is a member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame.

Pleasant Company, 8400 Fairway Place, Middleton WI 53562; 608-836-4848; 800-233-0264; Fax: 800-257-3865. Specialties: children's fiction, especially for young girls, also activity and advice books for children. This company has grown into a $300 million company primarily through the use of mail order catalogs and plenty of sideline spinoffs from their books. Pleasant Rowland, the founder, was named to the Catalog Hall of Fame as one of the 25 people who changed the catalog industry. In June 1998, Mattel acquired Pleasant Company for $700 million!

Prima Publishing. General trade publisher, all subjects. Also, however, has three specialties: computer books, gaming systems books, and health books. This company has grown from a one-book self-publishing operation to a $90 million a year business. Their Prima Games division is the largest publisher of electronic and computer game books. Ben Dominitz is a member of the Self-Publishing Hall of Fame. Also a member of the Inc. 500. In spring 2001, Prima was sold to Random House for a significant figure.

Publications International, J. Robert Stank, Publisher, 7373 N Cicero Avenue, Lincolnwood IL 60646; 847-676-3470; Fax: 847-676-3671. Specialties: cookbooks, consumers, children's books, sports, entertainment, crafts, lifestyles, health and fitness, general. This company is big in the mass-market retail arena.

Publishers Group West, 1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley CA 94710; 510-528-1444; 800-788-3123; Fax: 510-528-3444. Warehouse: 2724 W Winton Avenue, Hayward CA 94545. Founded in 1976, the largest independent distributor, PGW distributes 150 publishers. They had sales of over $165 million in 2000, an increase of $65 million in three years. Their Avalon Publishing division, which is now an independent company, owns a number of smaller publishers, including Moon Publications, Foghorn Press, Carroll & Graf, Thunder's Mouth, Blue Moon Books, and Marlowe & Co. The distribution arm of this company was sold to Advanced Marketing Services in January 2002. Avalon Publishing was spun off as a separate publishing company at that time.

Rodale Press, 400 S Tenth Street, Emmaus PA 18098; 610-967-8775; Fax: 610-967-8962. Publisher of magazines and books on health, fitness, gardening, home, inspiration, and spirituality. In 1998, they had book revenues of $225 million.

Running Press, 125 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia PA 19103-4399; 215-567-5080; 800-345-5359; Fax: 215-568-2919. Specialties: gift books, all subjects. They publish many inexpensive beautiful books. This company was sold in 2002 to the Perseus Publishing Group. Its annual sales at that time were over $60 million.

Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020; 212-698-7503; Fax: 212-698-7035. In 1924, Dick Simon and Max Schuster founded the publishing company of Simon & Schuster using about $5,000 in borrowed funds. Their first book was the first crossword puzzle book. The company has now gone on to become one of the largest global publishing companies, producing more than 2,100 titles each year. While you would never categorize S&S as an independent publisher today (since it's been own by various conglomerates for the past 20 years or more), it started out that way and deserves to be part of this hall of fame.

Sourcebooks Inc., Dominique Raccah, Publisher, 1935 Brookdale Road #139, Naperville IL 60563; 630-961-3900 #224; 800-727-8866; Fax: 630-961-2168. Email: Founded in 1987. Imprints: Casablanca Press, Hysteria, Sphinx Publishing, Champion Press. Specialties: general, children's, romance, beauty, fiction, multimedia. The fastest growing independent publisher out there.

Sterling Publishing Company, 387 Park Avenue S, New York NY 10016; 212-532-7160; Fax: 212-213-2495. This independent book publisher was sold for $115 million to Barnes & Noble in December 2002.

Ten Speed Press, 999 Harrison Street, P O Box 7123, Berkeley CA 94707; 510-559-1600; 800-841-BOOK; Fax: 510-559-1629. Specialties: health, cooking, careers, new age. Imprints: Celestial Arts, Crossing Press, and Tricycle Press. Now owned by Random House and published as an imprint for Crown Publishing Group. Had done $20 million per year in business.

Tyndale House, Wheaton IL. Publishers of the Left Behind series (which has sold over 63 million copies), this religious publisher had sales of $90 million in 2005.

Walker & Company, George Gibson, Publisher, 435 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014; 212-727-8300; 800-289-2553; Fax: 800-218-9367. Email: Specialties: general, fiction, large print. Since December 2004, it is a division of Bloomsbury.

Workman Publishing Company, Peter Workman, Publisher, 225 Varick Street, New York NY 10014-4381; 212-254-5900; 800-722-7202; Fax: 212-475-5074. Also owns Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, Storey Publishing, Timber Press, Artisan Books, and HighBridge Audio. This is the premier pioneering publisher of trade paperbacks and Page-a-Day calendars. A standard setter who has sold millions of copies of dozens of titles.

Book Marketing 101: How to Create a National Bestseller
How to out-sell the New York Times bestsellers without breaking the bank. This is an inside guide on how other authors and self-publishers have created national bestsellers with persistence, elbow grease, and some investment of time or money. Also includes John Kremer’s insight on how to create a bestseller. Ebook download. $30.00.

Book Marketing 102: Editorial as the First Step in Marketing
An incredible book about creating effective editorial that will sell a book, when you should publish a book and when you should not, how to get the best testimonials, creating selling book titles, and more. 78 pages, ebook download, $20.00.

Book Marketing 103: Designing Your Books as Sales Aids
You can sell a book by its cover. Learn how to design both the inside and outside of your books for most effective sales. No other investment can increase the sales of your books more than effective cover designs. In addition, learn how to price your books for greatest sales and ask for the order. 60 pages, ebook download, $20.00.

Book Marketing 104: 192 Marketing Ideas I've Learned from Others — In this miniguide, I describe 192 marketing ideas I’ve learned by reading bestselling books and magazines, attending seminars, and watching TV. Learn the seven successful strategies of every bestseller, guerilla marketing for writers, the meaning of success, a bestseller’s take on selling books, the ten secrets of publishing success, how to be a good talk radio guest, how Terry McMillan became a bestselling author on her own, and how Elmore Leonard became HOT! Ebook download, $20.00.

Copyright © 2012 by book marketing expert John Kremer

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