Postgraduate Dissertation

Investigating the Opportunities and Limitations for Independent Publishers in the UK: A Case Study of ‘The Northern Powerhouse of Independent Publishing’


Whilst much research has been undertaken on the effects an ever-changing publishing landscape has had upon the publishing industry as a whole, and in particular independent booksellers, few scholars have considered how these technological, environmental and industrial changes have affected the UK independent publisher. The aim of this dissertation is to identify the key opportunities and limitations for UK-based independent publishers, with regards to growth and development in the current climate. The issues are introduced in a national context, then explored and evaluated with a particular regional focus on the so called 'Northern Powerhouse of Independent Publishing'. Recommendations, substantiated by this analysis, are then given for the independent publisher on the successful management and growth of both new and existing UK wide enterprises, and to aid in the development of business strategies and subsequent publishing programmes. The primary recommendations include focusing marketing activity on the output – the books and the authors, including an acceptance of the nurturing and developmental role they provide for early career authors. Similarly, the research suggests that the geographical location of the publishing house is irrelevant, and affiliation with official independent publishing societies delivers little prestige or power. Developing a diverse list can serve to relieve financial pressure; newly established independent publishers should develop their niche gradually in order to establish trends, observe sales patterns, become fully acquainted with the market and build the backlist slowly before taking increased risks in an area which may be too tightly defined. Remaining open minded to publishing content which does not necessarily fit directly into a specialism of choice can be advantageous from a commercial perspective, facilitating diversification of revenue streams, and providing mitigation against unforeseen trends. The publishing industry is under increasing pressure to adopt environmentally friendly practices. Whilst independent publishers are evidently under less pressure to engage with this agenda, they are advised to acknowledge their moral responsibility and utilise green practice where it is economically viable to do so. Substantial investment into experimental rights activity should be avoided until the economic and societal atmosphere is clearer post Brexit, and indeed the Covid-19 pandemic, however appropriate rights options should be included in contracts with authors as a secured avenue of potential exploration in the future.

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Cockcroft, Dawn


Rights Holders: Cockcroft, Dawn
Supervisors: Cain, Genevieve

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford International Centre for Publishing

Degree programme

MA Publishing Studies



© Cockcroft, Dawn
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