Carl Brewer

When it comes to improving the supply chain function in book publishing, the watchword is communication—between various components of the chain, and especially between manufacturing, distribution and retail. Saying this, however, is not saying nearly enough, as the quality of information and the way it’s used matter just as much as making the right connections. “Communication is the No. 1 supply chain issue,” says Rich Eby, director of inbound distribution at Thomson Learning, the Stamford, Conn.-based provider of educational, training and reference books for academic and corporate customers. For Thomson, that means anticipating shipments from manufacturers around the world for distribution in the

A year ago, Ideals Publications (—a Nashville, Tenn.-based division of Guideposts that publishes 100+ titles annually for children and adults—was operating, as many publishers do, under a paper-based inventory management and distribution system that involved order-faxing and a returns-handling system that could sometimes take weeks. Last July, however, Ideals began working with a new distribution company that had a new warehouse management system in place, called IRMS, to automate inventory management and returns processing. Today, Ideals’ order- and returns-management process is paperless, and its inventory levels are more accurate and visible to them in real-time. Returns are in the door and back in active

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