TaeHun Kim may be a new publisher and author, but he is learning the terrain quickly. In fact, he’s not alone in the view that 2011 may indeed be a break-out year for independent publishers.
“It used to be that independent books or self-published books were the stepchildren of the industry,” said Kim, author of War With Pigeons and founder of a StoryTelling, Inc., an independent publisher. “In the past, if you spoke with book trade buyers and reps, you’d receive less than their undivided interest.
“These days, however, they are forced to pay more attention to smaller publishers and even self-published authors, because more consumers are interested in their products,” he added.
Kim explained that consumers are using the Internet to buy more books, and research them before they trek to the book store. According to Foner Books industry statistics, Amazon.com represents 44 percent of all North American book sales and BN.com is on the slate with just more than four percent. In comparison, Barnes & Noble sales account for about 32 percent and Borders almost 20 percent. That means 48 percent of all books sold in North America are now purchased solely online.
“The Internet is more adept at appealing to niche markets and enthusiast audiences,” said Kim, whose business background prior to publishing includes being a senior executive at a major national bank. “That’s attractive to independent publishers who often focus on specific topics or fields. For instance, the Korean-American market is one of the largest niche consumer audiences in the United States.
“The novel I wrote and published focuses on the struggles within the different generations of the Korean-American community, and the break between the old traditions and new ideas,” he added. “Not many mainstream publishers would find those topics to be broad enough to appeal to their mass consumer audience. But as an independent publisher, it is much easier not only for us to find our audience, but also for our audience to find us.”
In addition, Kim said that several mainstream authors are starting to migrate to the self-publishing paradigm.
“Douglas Rushkoff, who has authored ten bestselling books on popular culture as well as graphic novels, recently self published his last book, because he feels the traditional publishing model is dying,” Kim added. “I agree with him to some extent. Working with independent publishers can be more cost effective and result in a product with more integrity for consumers. Indie publishers aren’t slavish to the old ‘spring catalog/fall catalog’ mentality of the traditional book trade. They can be nimble, and appeal to both niche audiences and broad audiences using new media outreach techniques more efficiently than the old guard of the traditional publishing world.”
TaeHun Kim was born in Inchon, South Korea and immigrated to the United States in 1971. He spent most of his childhood growing up in various areas of Brooklyn, New York, most notably Mill Basin.
Kim received his BA in History from Haverford College and his JD from New York University School of Law. He worked as a securitization attorney for many years at Brown & Wood LLP and then a senior credit officer for Moody’s Investors Service. He is currently a senior vice president at a global bank. He lives with his wife and three children in Bergen, New Jersey. www.aStoryTelling.com