In the publishing world, a niche market represents a specific category or area of interest. Companies that publish books in one or more specialized areas are considered “niche publishers.” Those who cover a wide range of subjects are called “general publishers.”
Since the 1990s, the niche market has been dominated by large publishers, but a number of small publishers have managed to maintain their share of the market and have been able to thrive along side of the larger publishing firms.
All publishing companies, whether large or small target a specific market. Even if a company has a wide range of titles, each book has a specific market. While most large book publishers market through distribution agencies and ultimately through book stores, smaller niche publishing houses have been able to utilize direct marketing to their target audience. For instance, a book on dentistry is best sold directly to dentists rather than being placed in a general bookstore. In fact, thousands of book titles are published every year that are never sold in bookstores. Readers who exclusively buy they books from large bookstores are actually accessing only a very small part of the books that are available. There are literally hundreds of specialty areas for books, some of these being short-lived, and some lasting for years.
Here at Canbooks, we consider ourselves a niche publisher, focusing on historical and religious non-fiction, generally aimed at an evangelical audience. In this niche we have been able to successfully publish a number of titles.
Niche publishers sometimes have an advantage over larger publishers when it comes to pricing. General publishers sometimes price their books with the following in mind:
50% for the retailer
5% for the distributor
30% for the publisher
5% for the author
10% for the cost of production
Since niche publishers are usually directly addressing their target audience, their prices usually reflect the following:
20 % for shipping to purchaser
20 % for advertising
30 % for the publisher
20% for the author
10% for cost of production
In order to make this formula work, the publisher must know how to reach the niche market. If the market is poorly defined, (such as taxi drivers) then marketing will be much harder and more expensive. Dentists on the other hand have associations, conferences, and magazines that already target this niche market.
CanBooks has been able to penetrate several niche markets and even develop these markets beyond what other publishers have been doing. By addressing international markets as well as typical North American markets CanBooks has been able to enter the same niches in European and Asian markets. The Asian markets are currently in a state of boom as thousands of Asians are becoming better educated and are open to reading and purchasing resource materials. By partnering with niche publishers in Europe and Asia, CanBooks has been able to have materials translated and distributed widely. There are, however, pitfalls and dangers when dealing with these markets, as copyright laws are dealt with differently in different countries. Quick entry into these markets is usually the most profitable, as pirated copies of books and electronic media frequent the market, especially if a product has a wider appeal and longer shelf life.
Many times new writers ask us to consider their manuscripts. Almost all of these are rejected, as they do not fit into the niches that CanBooks is currently targeting. This is not because we are not interested in other markets, but simply because economics require us to focus on niches where we have experience and a proven track record.