Dedication is the foundation of many small book publishers: by printing primarily what interests them and focusing on authors they trust, this group has grown rapidly. Whereas many major publishers consolidate and lose money on book returns and operating costs, small presses flourish because their books meet high standards for appearance and content, and are handled efficiently and profitably.

According to a Publishers Weekly estimate, 7,000-plus new publishers emerge each year, with 50,000 independent titles printed in the United States.

Spotlight On Independent Publishers

A collection of old books on a shelf - The rise of small book publishers - Frayed Passport

Collection of books.

Many small book publishers rely on genres, specializing in topics like travel, mystery, horror, self-help, and romance. Some are even owned and operated completely by an individual–such as punk musician Henry Rollins.

A celebrity author and publisher, Rollins not only makes music, acts, and writes books, but he also operates his own record label and book publishing company.

Milestone Press is another successful small publishing company—this one being founded by a family of cycling enthusiasts that concentrate on adventure destination guides. The company’s mission statement is simple: “We produce reliable, up-to-date guidebooks that give you outdoor adventure enthusiasts all the information you need to have a great experience in the Southeast, a region we know and love.”

According to owners Jim Parham and Mary Ellen Hammond, Milestone’s publishing list is small and grows slowly because they put a lot of energy into revising and updating their books on a regular basis, as well as making sure new ones meet their standards for user-friendliness, clarity, and accuracy.

Read more about small book publishers at

By Robin Van Auken

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About the Author

Robin Van Auken

Robin Van Auken is the founder of Hands on Heritage. She also is an author, teacher, and archaeologist.