More than 1,300 new ventures have appeared in the publishing industry over the past 15 years, according to a new report in Publishers Weekly from analyst Thad McIlroy. Whether those startups have gone public or gone belly-up, they may be found in an online database for your inspection.

Digital disruption has come to publishing from many directions and many actors. Household names like Apple and Amazon appear on Thad McIlroy’s spreadsheet of startups, along with many more that are obscure, forgotten, and long departed.

McIlroy tells me that Big Five publishing executives often rely on start-ups given their own mixed records for in-house innovation.

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“The senior executives at the largest publishers tend to come up through editorial. Another bunch of them tend to come up through sales and marketing. They never come up through tech. They never come up through the IT channel or the department of innovation, such as those exist. And the result is, I think for the larger publishers, they don’t necessarily intuitively pick up on the value of some of the startups. So there’s that on the one hand,” he says.

“As one very smart executive said to me, why do we have to buy the company to use the technology? We can license the technology. We can become a customer. At the same time, we’re large firms, and we should be building this stuff internally. So they have the money to do some very intelligent internal investment that they don’t have to share with anyone. So they can develop a competitive advantage that way,” McIlroy notes.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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