Gene Therapy: From Book Proposal to Profit
The California-Princeton Fulfillment Services—a partnership between the two presses in Ewing, N.J.—is the site to which Neil Litt, Princeton University Press’ director of EDP, delivers his bound-books inventory. The marketing department monitors stock levels, and the sales department notifies production monthly about needed reprints.
Litt notes that about 1,000 of the press’s titles are archived at two “virtual warehouses.” The press’s two digital printers turn around those “long tail” titles, and ship within 48 hours on orders issued from the fulfillment center. Litt’s first human contact with the process is the some 60 to 75 pages of two-line entry invoices for 5,000 to 7,000 demand printings he gets monthly from one of the printers; the other printer sends an electronic invoice to the accounting department.
Earlier in the process, though, the editorial department enters prospective new titles into Princeton’s Press Wide Database, a workflow and project management system built by the press. The tracking process is similar to that of Stanford’s. It moves a title from the “speculative plan” to the “contract plan,” and then to production, where a job number is assigned.
An approved budget and pub date drive the “project plan.” The system can generate useful management tools, including: a schedule and workflow report, and a Web-based, calendar-sorted task list for each department or person.
The marketing department can sort by book genres to see potential promotional conflicts or synergies, and work back from pub dates in planning promotions. Subscribers can receive automated alerts when changes occur.
The Move to E-Book Publishing
Princeton made an early commitment to e-book publishing in 1999, according to Priscilla Treadwell, Princeton’s electronic publications marketing manager. At that time, it digitized more than 300 backlist titles, and made them available as e-books in several formats and distributed them through various retail channels. It placed roughly the same number of backlist titles with Net Library and eBrary to test the market, and is now expanding that by 600 to 800 additional titles. The press plans to build e-book editions for a variety of partners into each of its seasonal lists.
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.