Distribution Goes Digital
Digital asset producers—DAPs—are, of course, the universe of content publishers, ranging from traditional publishers to the new on-demand publishers.
Digital asset recipients—DARs––are users of DADs’ output. What may be confusing here is that DARs, as defined by Shatzkin and his white paper, are aggregators, archives and portals themselves who distribute content in its user-form to other consumers. Examples he cites are Google, Amazon or NetLibrary.
Publishers need to become accustomed to thinking of themselves as DAPs, first and foremost, a paradigm shift from the paper-based industry launched by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz, Germany about 557 years ago. Our future book-delivery supply chain always should be thought of as a digital file residing in a master archive that can drive both printed and all other versions and formats of the work.
Probably one of the oldest pioneers in digital media storage, rights and e-commerce management and distribution is Cleveland-based OverDrive Inc. (OverDrive.com), founded in 1986 by Steve Potash, its president and CEO. Potash is also president of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF—the successor to the Open E-book Forum), and a champion for industry standards in electronic publishing (IDPF.com).
The online distribution model in the OverDrive chart (right) typifies the supply chain sequence handled by a DAR. The consumers in the chart are retailers, libraries and corporations.
Universal Data Formatting
Standards Are Needed
The major uses of digital content are in text, audio, DVD or video products, in PDF form—to drive book printing, for browsing and display in marketing—and in searchable form, including download, customizing and mash-ups (which combine content from multiple sources).
In order to manage the content effectively for these purposes, formatting conventions and metadata need to follow universally accepted and applied standards. What DADs distribute to DARs can verge on the useless to the misused and unused without the ability to read and process the data at the user end of the chain because of proprietary and other format barriers.
- Books24x7 Inc.
- Ebrary Inc.
- Independent Publishers Group
- Ingram Digital
- Libre Digital
- Lightning Source Inc.
- Lightspeed LLC
- Macmillan Publishing Solutions
- NewsStand Inc.
- Overdrive Inc.
- Publishing Dimensions
- Random House Inc.
- The Book Industry Study Group
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.