One of the UK’s most vibrant and independent poetry and fiction publishers, Salt Publishing, has this week announced that it is abandoning its single-author poetry collections. Director of Salt Publishing, Chris Hamilton-Emery, explained the decision to the Guardian UK online:
“We’ve seen our sales [of single-author collections] decline by over a quarter in the past year, and our sales have halved in the past five years. It’s simply not viable to continue doing them unfunded … We have tried to commit to single-author collections by funding them ourselves, but as they have become increasingly unprofitable, we can’t sustain it.
“For many years the market was static, and then it went into quite sharp decline, particularly through the traditional market of bricks and mortar booksellers. There has also been a massive increase in the number of poetry publications coming out. We think that’s a good thing, but we can’t commercially be part of it … As a very small, niche commercial publisher, we can’t possibly sustain what we have done in the past.”
Salt Publishing will concentrate on its Best of British Poetry Anthology series as well as fiction (short and long) and nonfiction titles. Salt author Alison Moore was shortlisted for last year’s Man Booker prize. The Guardian UK article reports that figures from Nielsen BookScan indicate a significant fall in value within the poetry market over the last year following moderate declines, year on year, since 2010. The overall value of the poetry market fell to just to £6.7m from £8.4m in 2009. Ironically, there has actually been a significant increase in the number of poetry books published, but the market is becoming more competitive and harder for small independent publishers to sustain a profit. Salt Publishing has not had a single poetry title featured in the 100 poetry books sold over the past two years.