In 2021, France published around 10,000 new titles of children's books, while Germany and the United Kingdom released approximately 9,000 and 7,000 titles respectively*.
While major publishers tend to dominate the market, independent publishers play a crucial role in the publishing industry, and their support is essential for preserving editorial diversity, among many other benefits.
However, these publishers face several challenges, including a lack of budget that makes it difficult for them to integrate into the book market, which is characterized by editorial overproduction. They often have to make tough choices regarding resource allocation, which affects their ability to reach a wide audience and, in some cases, maintain high-quality standards to gain the trust of readers and critics.
The lack of distribution networks adapted to the structures of independent publishers is another significant challenge. These publishers have a limited choice of distribution networks that hinders the availability of their titles in bookstores. The system of returning unsold books, which can be complex, also makes bookstores more hesitant to source from them, as it complicates their stock management. This situation further limits the visibility of titles from independent publishers.
These challenges, along with competitive pressure, make it difficult for them to compete against dominant players who hold a strong position.
Supporting independent publishers is crucial, as they offer a key advantage: the ability to promote voices and perspectives different from those of major publishers. They are often more inclined to take risks and experiment, leading them to publish more innovative and original works that might not find a place in the catalogs of major publishing houses. By supporting them, we encourage creativity and diversity in the literary landscape, which benefits everyone.
Nowadays, an increasing number of readers are sensitive to this human dimension in the creation and diversification of children's books. They are becoming more aware of the importance of representation in children's books and seek out those that reflect the diversity of their environment and a certain authenticity.
And precisely, independent publishers often have a head start in this field because they are often more willing to take risks by publishing books that address themes or perspectives less represented in the children's book industry. They can also be more open to collaborating with authors and illustrators from diverse cultural backgrounds, which brings a unique and enriching perspective for children.
Indeed, the dominance of major publishers can lead to uniformity in the publishing industry. Independent publishers, on the other hand, maintain a level of competition and provide an alternative to industry monopolies. Their support would help restore healthy and beneficial competition for readers.
By supporting independent publishers, we are also supporting the local economy. These publishers are often small local and family businesses that employ editors, proofreaders, designers, and other industry professionals. By purchasing their books, we contribute to maintaining these local jobs.
Finally, the qualitative aspect is also crucial today. While major publishers are often regarded as guarantors of literary quality, independent publishers can also offer exceptionally high-quality works. They are more willing to take the time to collaborate with literary professionals to enhance their works, thereby providing a more personalized experience.
In conclusion, supporting independent publishers is important to uphold cultural diversity, encourage creativity, maintain healthy competition, support the local economy, and ensure high literary quality.
* statistics published by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY).