Are You the Weakest Link?
Misplaced self-concepts aren’t qualitatively much different among the larger houses, although financial management is much more sophisticated when it comes to understanding the balance-sheet impacts of inventories, consignment and other fixed assets.
The process reflected in resource allocation, productivity and profitability considerations is the dynamic we know as the supply, or value, chain. If you apply this concept in your strategic thinking—whether it is about your job description or corporate mission—you will dramatically increase your effectiveness and profitability, as well as job satisfaction.
Understanding where you fit in the supply chain, and what core value you add to it—as an individual or a company—can provide a competitive edge. It will also enable you to readjust your sights as trends in the marketplace shift.
For example, publishing professionals engaged in manufacturing and production know that the global outsourcing model is re-locating the value proposition both to outside vendors as well as to those in other countries. It doesn’t mean that manufacturing and production are no longer important, but that their position in some supply chains has shifted.
Printers and book manufacturers know that they are afloat in shifting waters. Frank Romano, professor emeritus at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Print Media, said recently that we will probably be settled into a predictable number of printers in the United States in a few years. However, over time they will be using different technologies to bring images to paper, with ink-jet replacing offset in many plants.
Book manufacturers and printers also know that the size and frequency of publishers’ orders, as well as who is placing the orders (e.g., production professionals vs. inventory managers) is shifting. They also know that digital, audio and video versions of content have a growing foothold for the attention of “readers.” Hence, the content publisher no longer sees his print supplier as the sole link in bringing the product to the point of distribution.
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.