No Rest for the BISG: Book Industry Study Group’s annual meeting highlights the achievements of a busy year.
•“Environmental Trends and Climate Impacts: Findings from the U.S. Book Industry”: Published for the first time in March, to provide a systematic look at the book industry’s carbon footprint and recommend steps companies can take to improve their environmental performance. (Healy noted that BISG also is a founding partner of the newly formed Book Industry Environmental Council.)
•“From Experimentation to Innovation in the Digital Age”: Published for the first time this year, to coincide with BISG’s “Making Information Pay” event in May, to explore a series of 10 case studies in innovative publishing approaches and share the results of a study on innovation conducted by BISG and The Idea Logical Corp. earlier in the year.
Healy also outlined BISG’s new certification programs, both launched in February:
•Product Data Certification Program (PDCP): Publishers can submit files of product information to BISG for “testing” for the presence or absence of mandatory data elements and feedback on the file’s data quality.
•Product Label Certification Program (PLCP): Evaluates companies’ product labels for compliance with BISG and Guidelines for Shipping Container Labeling (GS1). Simon & Schuster was the first company to received PLCP certification, and other applications are currently under consideration, said Healy.
BISG’s committees—including its Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) committees, which work to facilitate best practices, and set policies and standards for maximum efficiency and accuracy along the supply chain—continue to be among the organization’s key focus areas. Healy noted the establishment of a new research committee this year, the Publishers/Independent Wholesalers Interest Group (PIWIG), chaired by Phil Madans of Hachette Book Group USA. PIWIG’s mission is to collaborate on issues and opportunities facing publishers and wholesalers, including the Global Data Synchronization Network and related metadata and transactional standards.
Guest Speaker Highlights
Several guest speakers took the stage, including Anita Alberse, associate professor at Harvard University Business School, who outlined the results of her research to explore the validity of author Chris Anderson’s “long-tail” business theory, which suggests that the tail of sales-distribution is getting longer and fatter due to online sales channels (meaning blockbuster products—whether movies, books, music, etc.—will make up less of a market’s overall sales compared to the lengthening “tail” of niche products that are now easier for people to find). Alberse said her research supports the theory that the “tail” is getting longer (meaning that more niche books are selling now than ever before), but she has found no evidence that the tail is getting fatter. Rather, “the average sales for those titles are getting lower and lower,” she said.