An Authoritative Look at Book Publishing Startups

November 30th, 2022

NOTE: The new version of this report was published by Publishers Weekly in November, 2022, with a new title: Book Publishing Startups in the United States 2022: Industry Insights, Analysis, and Investment Opportunities. It is fully updated; hundreds of new listings, and all of the analysis reconsidered. The database can be accessed separately online at this link.

The first version of the report, called An Authoritative Look at Book Publishing Startups In the United States, was published at the beginning of 2017. I collected the data in the report over nearly 5 years — the new version contains nearly six years of data updates.

There’s been a void in our understanding of startup activity specific to the book publishing industry. Here is the first quantitative analysis of that activity, specifically in the U.S. It answers questions like:

• How many startups launched in the last decade?
• How many of these are still in business today?
• What is the primary business focus of the startups?
• How much money have they raised?
• How many companies have exited via a merger or acquisition (or in a couple of cases, an IPO)?

At the core of the report is a spreadsheet with nearly 900 companies listed (1300 in the new version!). For each company I uncovered their mission statement (or a short product description), market focus, amount of money raised (if disclosed), and current status.

I did the work to satisfy my own curiosity and to understand the nature of innovation in the publishing industry — in the absence of visible innovation at the established book publishers, most notably the big five. So where will we find the future of the publishing industry? Among these companies and the others that follow on the startup path.

The report is available for free online. Here’s a PDF version. Also available, without charge, is the online database.

Please let me know if the report is useful to you. And of course any errors or omissions.

March 20, 2024: I’ve found a complementary database focused on “teaching, learning, or research activities.” See the post “Generative AI Product Tracker” from Ithaka S+R.