The Book Industry Study Group

A Lesson in E-Literacy
August 1, 2007

The education market has made major technological strides—but in some ways, it’s still a bit behind the learning curve. You hear it all the time—the joke that kids these days come out of the womb with a laptop. More than making for a painful birth, it signifies that the Internet is the future of business, in both sales and marketing. Still, most educational publishing orders are made through paper channels, and direct mail continues to be the major method to attract sales. Then again, teachers are making these purchases much more frequently than the more tech-entrenched students. “You’d think the Internet would be the main

BISG To Release Book Industry Trends 2007
June 1, 2007

The Book Industry Study Group Inc. (BISG), a trade association for book industry standards, policy and research, is scheduled to announce its annual book sales estimates and forecasts in both dollars and units for the time period of 2005–2011, today during BookExpo America (BEA) at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The estimates are part of the 2007 edition of “Book Industry Trends,” BISG’s research publication that has provided a view of U.S. book publishing sales for the past 30 years. The preview at BEA will feature highlights from the new publication, a description of the research methodology and sources of

Spotlight on the Supply Chain
June 1, 2007

Supply chain management is a hot topic in the industry, and as the industry continues to evolve in a rapidly changing marketplace, it is drawing more and more attention. Recent Book Business articles have explored big-picture supply chain thinking (search for “supply chain” on BookBusinessMag.com), and in this issue, the topic is put under the microscope. In his article “Supply Chain Management for Profit,” writer Jim Sturdivant explores how some leading publishers are automating supply chain management to eliminate waste—in time, process and inventory—and improve the bottom line. This article also explains that while examining the supply chain can have a significant impact

Supply Chain Management
June 1, 2007

When it comes to improving the supply chain function in book publishing, the watchword is communication—between various components of the chain, and especially between manufacturing, distribution and retail. Saying this, however, is not saying nearly enough, as the quality of information and the way it’s used matter just as much as making the right connections. “Communication is the No. 1 supply chain issue,” says Rich Eby, director of inbound distribution at Thomson Learning, the Stamford, Conn.-based provider of educational, training and reference books for academic and corporate customers. For Thomson, that means anticipating shipments from manufacturers around the world for distribution in the

Piecing Together the Distribution Puzzle
June 1, 2007

If distribution means getting books into the hands of sellers, circulators or readers, then a true profile of the distribution business would cast a wide net, beginning at the binding line and continuing through to the ‘long tail’ of online portals, used bookstores and curbside pushcarts. However, if distribution, from the publisher’s view, means getting books to generate sales revenue, we can overlook all of the aftermarket, recirculation and reselling channels and focus solely on reaching stores, libraries, online and catalog warehouses and—increasingly, thanks to the Internet—direct marketing from the publisher to the consumer. In the article “Deconstructing Distribution,” in Book Business’

Focusing on Faith
May 1, 2007

The large New York publishing firms might have been forgiven, in early 2000, for taking little or no notice of a slim volume of Bible commentary put out by Multnomah Publishers, a small religious publishing house based in Colorado Springs. The book, which analyzed an obscure Old Testament passage as a sort of self-help guide to releasing “God’s favor, power and protection” through prayer, was bought up by large evangelical churches and began to be talked about online and in so-called “small group ministry” sessions around the country. One year and 4 million copies later, everyone in the publishing world had heard of

Deconstructing Distribution
May 1, 2007

The recent collapse of San Diego-based wholesaler Advanced Marketing Services (AMS), and its distribution subsidiary that it took down with it—the much esteemed Publishers Group West (PGW) that it acquired only five years ago—reminded me of the remarkable way in which our industry sorts through 180,000 new titles a year and the millions more in print. Somehow, in a timely manner, the industry moves books into stores, superstores, specialty stores and gift shops, big-box discounters, grocery and drug store chains, and libraries of all kinds—aggregating more than 100,000 accounts that someone has to bill and collect on. Dramatic though the PGW collapse is, drilling

An Exhibition of Optimism
April 1, 2007

In the months following the Sept. 11 attacks, museum admissions declined sharply, exhibitions were cancelled, and in the turbulence, administrators began examining whether they could continue to publish books as a result. Today, “there is generally a very optimistic feeling, which is not to say it’s easy. It’s still very difficult, but it’s an exciting time, and I feel really good about our future,” says Yale University Press Publisher Patricia Fidler. “No one was saying that a few years ago.” Currently, her art and architecture division publishes 120 books annually, of which roughly 60 percent stem from Yale’s museum partners. Stephanie Medlock,

Are You the Weakest Link?
March 1, 2007

As I was preparing for this column, I came across the following statement in a brochure prepared by Strategos, strategic planning consultants, that I picked up at an event a few years ago: “What’s amazing is how often top management is surprised when dramatic external change happens. Why the surprise? Is it that the world is violently turbulent, changing in ways that simply cannot be anticipated? Perhaps. But we call them ‘inevitable surprises.’ Think about it. In retrospect, you could have anticipated most of the disruptions in your industry. You can build this capability into your organization. You can be prepared—before your competition.”

Content Crossroads & Distribution Junction
February 1, 2007

The hot-button issues in the book industry today surround an increased focus on content and alternative forms of distribution. Publishers are still keeping a watchful eye on the Internet and the fear that it may replace the print-based distribution business in the future. But there appears to be a greater acceptance and realization that “content” is a publisher’s real asset, and that the delivery method means nothing if the content isn’t outstanding. An increased focus on content, book search tools, digital distribution, a declining print readership, increased used-book sales, rising fuel and paper costs, and decreasing bookshelf space in retail superstores are all