Tapping the Supply Chain Opportunity
Extending the franchise
It has long been the practice among publishers with efficiently managed warehouse and shipping operations to raise the productivity and reduce the cost basis of their distribution operations by contracting distribution for other publishers. Independent Publishers Group and National Book Network are examples of initiatives that morphed into substantial businesses.
With the advent of the Internet and the digital platform for browsing, searching and selling books, a host of new technologies have emerged to deal with content management, rights protection, content customization, e-book publishing and e-reading devices, standards and best practices, and the various proprietary and open platforms and their conversion needs.
Google’s Book Search and Microsoft’s upcoming Windows Live Book Search (which plans to launch later this year) have upped the ante for publishers entering the digital game. Most smaller publishers see these initiatives as a substantial benefit in broadening their global reach. For major publishers with substantial lists and heavy front list investments, unlimited digital exposure is often seen as eroding their control over copying, sales and unauthorized commercial exploitation.
This has created an incentive for them to take control of their own digital content storage, access and distribution. Two major publishers who have done this are HarperCollins (Browse Inside) and Random House (Insight). Other publishers have reported they are studying similar strategies.
The supply chain implications of these initiatives will play out among retailers, librarians and consumers as they prioritize Web search choices between aggregators such as Google and Microsoft, and e-tailers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Reinforcing brand value
“Branding is a way to position your organization. It is your organization’s identity …,” wrote Craig in his article “Create Supply Chain Value Proposition With Yield Management and Supplier Management” (World Wide Shipping, March 2005). “Branding should be executable for supply chain management.”
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.