Getting to the nitty gritty …

Spent last Thursday at the e4books forum event thing at RIBA in Portland Place. This was an event for all parts of the publishing chain (publishers; distributors and books sellers). Designed to … well to be honest I’m not entirely sure. The message was at base that we should be doing everything electronically by May 2008. This is of course fair enough. But there was no real information about how to do it in reality.

This is mirrored on the BIC and e4books websites. Lots of ‘we need to be doing everything electronically’ but not much of the how this may actually (and practically) be achieved. And really they’ve been at this for years. I think everyone gets the principle but if you can’t ground it with terms and steps people can relate to then it will remain an abstract concept. Seriously look at their websites and tell me I’m wrong.

The presentations on Thursday (with one very notable exception – which I will come to shortly) were no real help at all. I am sure the BIC/e4books people are all jolly well meaning but had little to say of any real help to under resourced businesses trying to live up to the challenge set of electronically trading by May 2008. There was no information about what tools to use; the practical steps needing to be undertaken; and how much any of this may cost.

The presentation from the bookseller person was all very well meaning but boiled down to have MS office; use email and oh back your stuff up. I mean really its two thousand and seven for fucks sake.

The one exception was Emma’s (of Snowbooks) presentation who illustrated just how you may practically start becoming Onix compliant; what this has cost her organisation; what the benefits have been; and what other advantages you may reap from having all your title information in one place and being able to generate industry standard Onix XML from it. This was real stuff that people could relate to. Publishers understand the message that if you make a little initial effort to tidy up your title information (which you kind of need to do anyway) and get it all one place then you will save hours and days or time each month. Further, getting complete and timely information to those charged with selling your books will help you sell more books and not just one or two percent but according to Barnes & Noble between sixty and 70 per cent more. And even, further! That same information may be used to generate your AIs (title info sheets); catalogues and just about anything you need.

Emma demonstrated that it need not be expensive or require masses of technical ability. The most expensive application used was our Anko Title Manager at $240 for unlimited titles and including one click Onix generation everything else was free.

BIC should be stepping up to the plate on this. At the end of the presentations the delegates were exhorted to speak to the suppliers exhibiting. But again in reality what good was that actually supposed to do for them? Apart from us nobody there would be prepared to give them a price or a live demo of actually what they might get for their money.

Come on people – cut to the fucking chase! Enough already.



Filed under: Publishing, Technology

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