Vice President and General Manager, Ingram Publisher Services
If 2011 was the Year of Change in the book industry with the dramatic rise of digital and with shifting roles and reinvention the new norm, from where I sit, 2012 will be the Year of Collaboration. Basically, we all realize that we can’t do it alone . . . and why should we? What one does well another does less so and vice versa. The basic wheel has already been invented, but there are always new spins on it.
A few examples—at Ingram, we’ve spent decades building strong distribution capabilities, pioneering print on demand and more recently, launching a full-service digital distribution and sales program. But it still took individual publishers working with us to look beyond the models we’d already built to see what’s possible.
In 2010, Laura Baldwin, the COO and CFO of O’Reilly Media challenged us to put our existing capabilities to use and to help them move from carrying lots of inventory to carrying little, while still never missing a sale. Today, through our POD and distribution services, we manage O’Reilly’s inventory and print their books. Macmillan also had slower moving books they wanted to continue publishing. We had space, systems and print capability, and another new model was born in which Ingram houses, ships and, in some cases, prints several thousand titles for the Macmillan imprints. Collaboration.
And HarperCollins wanted to expand their reach to Christian booksellers; now, Ingram Publisher Services/Spring Arbor has launched a new distribution program into Christian markets. Award-winning books, coupled with strong market access. Collaboration.
Brill chose to hand over its digital books to Ingram’s CoreSource platform to distribute and archive its scholarly volumes to bookselling partners worldwide, allowing Brill more time to concentrate on publishing academic content rather than devote resources to the logistics of redistribution of e-content. More collaboration.
These are just a few of our examples at Ingram, but there are numerous others in the industry. Penguin recently announced a “virtual inventory” model in partnership with a printer. Earlier this year, HarperCollins and long-time print partner struck a deal that significantly changed the publisher’s supply chain model. Oxford University Press launched University Press Scholarship Online, so other university presses can offer their own monograph repositories around the world. These collaborations are just the tip of the iceberg.
I’ve had the pleasure of being in the book industry in one capacity or another since the late ‘70s (please don’t do the math!), yet I’ve never been more excited about what is possible, probable and yet to be discovered. There are a few things I know for certain—the Reader, our ultimate boss—is in for a treat as we bring them tremendous content (and 2011 was chock-full of it) in brand new as well as in familiar ways. I also know this will come about behind the scenes and amongst the various players in the book industry through growing collaboration and specialization. Experts enabling other experts to do what they do best. From where I sit, everybody wins—publishers, distributors, booksellers . . . and, ultimately, readers.