"The Future of Our Business ... Is About Data": A Q&A With New Industry Study Group Executive Director Scott Lubeck
So thinking about data—taxonomies, metadata and content as data—data structures that support not only the production of our current book products, but also all the digital products and repurposing of that content that book publishers are now entering into to one degree or another with a sense of urgency … is the preface to say PDC is absolutely critical.
And our ambition this year is to expand certification, really emphasizing not just that the integrity of the data model to support product information is important, but the data you put in that model matters—so also focusing on quality of data as part of the certification program, and working conservatively with publishers small and large so we can provide scorecards against their current data models, help them improve it, drive certification and make folks understand we don't create incentives. That's not what BISG is about, but to be able to work with them so that they understand the value of managing this kind of data, that there is an absolute [return on investment] for the publisher, large and small, in managing this data. Frankly, you sell more books and you get more attention if you manage your data well. And for the retailer and distributor, clearly the ease at which a book can be inserted into the channel, especially in an environment of growing complexity in these channels, is really critical.
So our mission is certification, education, evangelizing the importance of … data [quality] moving forward. That's a top initiative and, I think, looking at it strategically, the first of other kinds of certification programs that we'll want to be working on in the future.
Extra: Publishers currently are unable to track inventory and sales on digital items that are sold via retail the same way they can with print products, and have to rely on retailers for that information. Is this an issue BISG is working on?
Lubeck: Three weeks in, I can tell you this: This is a critical issue for us. … We're not going to own that; this is a collaborative effort. … It's about collaboration around these key issues across a wide landscape of stakeholders both in the United States and worldwide.