John Gartner John Gartner

Book publishers are keeping their fingers crossed that 2005 will be the year the industry shakes off the period of stagnation that has coincided with the U.S. economic downturn. The domestic market continued to remain essentially flat in 2004, but industry insiders are hopeful that the market will soon show growth. The shift toward more flexible production schedules, and resurgence in educational and reference titles will likely be the engines that drive any industry upswing. Another trend in 2005 will be publishers aiming to enhance profitability by leveraging the cost benefits of digital printing and international sourcing. Setting the Stage for Growth

Since paper is central to their business, it is understandable that book publishers have become very comfortable in continuing to use a paper trail to document transactions with suppliers. But the reliance on printing and scanning invoices, inventory status reports and receiving statements instead of completely moving to electronic communications has perpetuated a number of unnecessary business practices that should be treated as dead wood. However, most 20th century supply chain management practices and proprietary technologies will soon be filed under "H" for history. New XML-based standards for sending documents (called messages in the electronic age lingo) are beginning to revolutionize how publishers and

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