Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Skyhorse Publishing Has Got Your Back…list


Skyhorse Publishing’s latest business initiative: less Corporate Acquisitions, more Neighborhood Barn Raising.


Skyhorse Publishing announced a new program yesterday, an indie-publishers-helping-indie publishers sort ‘o deal. It all has to do with Backlist. With all the glamour and hoopla of Sales Conference (glamour embodied, without a doubt. [<– sarcasm]) and anticipation of new books coming out every season, it might not be evident how integral a backlist is to a publisher’s success. Backlist books are all those books a publisher published before this newest season that are still in print and still flowing, slow and steady, into the hands of readers around the country and world. 

Well, when it comes to print books, backlist can be expensive to maintain, because of time spent sitting in warehouses, and often increasing space needed in warehouses every year. For a small publisher, that can eat up an outsized portion of the budget.

But, of course, these are books that people still want to read, and getting them out is still important. Which is where Skyhorse’s new plan comes in: “Under the program, Skyhorse will offer cash for backlist titles. By paying to acquire such titles, the cash for backlist program can return publishers to solvency and buy time for them to restructure and move forward.

Skyhorse itself is a fairly young indie trade publisher, but they’ve seen success: last March, Publishers Weekly named them Fastest-growing Small Publisher for 2011. Tony Lyons, who’s the publisher at Skyhorse, explains

“We’re offering a program that we hope will both benefit Skyhorse and provide a service.  We’ve purchased two publishing companies out of bankruptcy and we feel that bankruptcy is inefficient for everyone involved. The rise of e-books and the demise of Borders have rocked the publishing world. So we hope this program will help vendors get paid and allow publishers to continue operating.”

To put this in some context: it’s not like backlists aren’t bought and sold all the time between publishers as a source of capital; it’s most interesting to see the way that a young indie publisher like Skyhorse is publicizing this move in a book-business climate where the theme of connectivity and mutual support is becoming an ever hotter topic.

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