Imagine this scenario: A pallet of books arrives at a distributor’s warehouse. It is scanned, allowing the system to keep track of the location of every book as the shipment is robotically de-palletized, stored and machine-prepared for shipment to retailers. Arriving at the point of sale, cartons are scanned at the door and all contents entered instantly into inventory, with special-order customers notified automatically that their book has arrived. Customers and employees can then discover with the click of a mouse exactly where a book is located in the store, and inventory, even at the largest bookstores, takes no more than 20 minutes.
“We are leading the pack by building a digital warehouse, which is the digital equivalent of our print warehouse,” commented Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers, in the May issue of Book Business. This is the ultimate sign-off on the industry’s embrace of the future, and its take-back of content control from trailblazers such as Google, Amazon and Yahoo. For some years now, various technology vendors have enabled publishers to deliver electronically formatted versions of their titles for special purposes. These have included applications such as conversions to XML formats (e.g., Publishing Dimensions), proprietary e-book reader formats (Mobipocket), sight-impaired applications (National