Transcript: Global Publishing Through Outsourcing

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From PubWest 2013

A panel discussion with:

Jason Brockwell, National Book Network
Phil Ollila, Ingram Content Group
Susan Reich, Publishers Group West

For podcast release Monday, February 24, 2014

KENNEALLY: Welcome, everyone, to a panel called Outsourcing Publishers’ Services: Getting the Most Out of Distribution Through Partnerships. I’ll introduce myself and welcome you. My name is Chris Kenneally. I’m a business development director with the nonprofit Copyright Clearance Center.

In the publishing world today, regime change is underway. It’s not happening in Tahrir Square, or even in Times Square. The old is giving way to the new in the virtual square, and publishers like yourselves and players like the ones on our panel today have declared themselves on the side of the new regime. Indeed, the concept of publishing a book and distributing it worldwide is fundamentally different than it was even a few years ago. With a combination of print-on-demand and e-services, there’s potential today to reach more customers globally in both formats, E and P.

To be successful and to focus on development of content, many publishers have begun outsourcing services, obviously including distribution, but as well, book manufacturing, back office, collection, and customer service. With our panel today, we’re going to discuss ways you can maximize that particular approach to your business, the outsourcing business. We have three panelists who are ready to discuss all of that. We’ll do alphabetical order.

In the center of the podium there, Jason Brockwell is director of sales of the National Book Network, and is also account manager for Amazon. Jason, welcome.

BROCKWELL: Thank you, Chris. It’s great to be here.

KENNEALLY: Jason’s been at NBN for over 10 years, where he has sold a variety of accounts, including independents, specialty retailers, regional wholesale, and Barnes and Noble. Prior to taking his current position at NBN, he was national account manager for a number of customers, as well as some of the leading bookstores and regional wholesalers in the Southeast. He also worked as a journalist in Maryland. So Jason, again, welcome.

Also to Jason’s left, we have Susan Reich. Susan, welcome.

REICH: Thank you.

KENNEALLY: Susan is president of Publishers Group West, the leading book sales and distribution company in the United States, with offices in Berkeley, California, and New York City. Susan had a long career in book publishing, with positions as president and COO of the Avalon Publishing Group, publishing director of Harper San Francisco, and associate publisher at Random House. She began her career in book retailing at Kroch’s and Brentano’s outside of Chicago, and was a book buyer for Brentano’s and director of merchandising at Waldenbooks.

You’ll notice the theme, which I’ll finish up on here. Our final panelist, Phil Ollila. Phil, welcome.

OLLILA: Thank you. Great to be here.

KENNEALLY: Phil is chief content officer of Ingram Content Group, where he is responsible for Ingram’s publisher-facing businesses, and has played a key role in the transformation of Ingram from a traditional book wholesaler to a fully-integrated content distribution services program. He leads a number of Ingram business units, including Ingram Publisher Services, Lightning Source, digital distribution through CoreSource, wholesale merchandise, and Ingram Marketing. Prior to joining Ingram, Phil spent 12 years at Borders Group, where his last position was vice president of marketing and merchandising.

The theme there is a fairly obvious one – each of these individuals has a real grounding in the physical bookstore as much as in the digital world that we all live in today, and so I think their perspective is informed by that. Susan, I’d like to start with you, if I could. For people who may not be working with PGW, or may not be very familiar with it, one of the things that I know you emphasize a lot is the whole notion of hand-holding, as you put it. Describe what that means at PGW, and why hand-holding is something that you should be looking for with your outsourcer.

REICH: Sure. First of all, thank you all. This is my first PubWest, and it’s been a great experience. I’ve gotten to meet many of you, and everybody’s been incredibly welcoming.

I think the number one reason why a publisher would consider working with any distributor is resources. Publishers, what is it that you want to focus on? Creation and development of content is what I’ve found most independent publishers – that’s their number one thing. So why not, then, go to a distributor for the things that they’re strongest at, and that’s sales, warehousing, the operations side, and education. Education means that it’s up to us as the distributor to keep our publishers informed, and we do that through sales conferences, meetings, webinars, and create a community and share that knowledge. I was on an Edelweiss publishing panel earlier this week and was able to talk about how we share that. We also share the costs of that with our publishers, so that is another unique feature, I think, of working with a distributor.

KENNEALLY: Right. It’s important to stress, and we’ll get to this, I think, throughout this afternoon, that the kind of programs and services you offer are very much at the global level. So distribution has a whole new meaning today.

REICH: Correct. It’s worldwide, and I think that’s true for all of us here on the panel, and it’s physical and E.

KENNEALLY: How does that make your relationship with your publishers more complicated? It would have to, right? You’re talking about different pricing, different countries, different cultures of bookselling.

REICH: One of the things we do as a distributor is that we have sales reps throughout the world. In certain cases, for us – PGW is part of Perseus. Perseus has a Perseus UK office. We use New South in Australia, and we have reps that cover the rest of the world. Also, when you put in your metadata into our system, you tell us what rights you have on the individual titles, and that way we can decide, if you’ve chosen to have us sell in all territories, which territory any individual title can be sold in. All of that is in the metadata that you feed us to begin with, which is what is all-important these days.

KENNEALLY: Right. I wonder if we can get that microphone over to Phil. Phil, Ingram has a very ambitious program called Global Connect. We’ll talk about that in detail in just a second. But I wonder if you could build on what Susan was just saying and talk about the real opportunity here. In the past, getting books into other marketplaces was a physical task. Now it’s a digital task, and that’s clearly changed everything.

OLLILA: I completely agree, Chris. One of the big things to change in the last 10 years, as I think everyone in the room is familiar with, is the barriers to entry to creating content and delivering content throughout the supply chain have fallen away, and fallen away quite spectacularly. In the past, the route to distribution was on a bookshelf in a bookstore or a specialty retailer. The question was how could I make my book interesting to those buyers, to make sure they end up on that shelf? So when I create demand in terms of marketing or publicity, I’m in a position to have that inventory out there in the field, prepared to sell it through the bookstore when the customer is ready.

Well, in a large way, because of changes in Internet commerce, a variety of formats – physical formats, print-on-demand formats, e-formats – and the idea that it’s available globally, the idea of making it necessary for it to be on a bookstore shelf, while appealing from a marketing perspective, isn’t necessarily driving most of the demand. For those of you who were at lunch today, the BISG meeting or the BISG data review, you could see the preponderance of sales that are going through the Internet.

So one question publishers should ask is, is the marketing I’m creating driving global demand for the title? Global demand can happen in any number of ways. It can express itself through the Internet. It can express itself through media. I’m not suggesting that all marketing is global, but it is likely that your marketing will be global and you won’t even know it.

The second question is, for the formats that I’m developing – and I think of the Knock Knock presentation we had earlier today – what is the most appropriate distribution method? If it’s a book with a variety of things, or a complex package, then you’re talking about physical distribution, probably restricted to a specific geography. But if you’re talking about narrative, or if you’re talking about certain things with inkjet color or other ideas for publishing that make it easy to get into a global distribution network, that might be a different way to think about it.

At Ingram, the thing that we’re the most proud of is we can offer distribution in every format, to every corner of the world, whether it’s physical or digital. The real question for publishers is, are you in a position to take advantage of that reach? How do you take advantage of that reach? And does the marketing you create and the demand you create through your authors, your publicity programs, or other ways of creating interest in books – what reach does that marketing have, and is it connected with your distribution solution?

KENNEALLY: The point you made, Phil, that really struck me as important here, and I think bears repeating, is that one’s marketing approach as a publisher today is global, whether you know it or not.

OLLILA: That’s exactly right.

KENNEALLY: The power of this is pretty remarkable. You’ve talked about Global Connect with me before, and I believe it was Global Connect, but you can correct me if I’m wrong, that was able to get into Australia overnight, practically, and the kinds of books that were available – the numbers of books, I should say, that were available in Australia just went from zero to 60 in a second. It was remarkably fast. Talk about that, and again, what that has translated into.

OLLILA: Our experience at Ingram is as a global exporter within the wholesale model. If you’re a publisher, chances are we’ve exported your books to one of, or many of the 150 countries that we ship to every single day. Traditional model – we buy the books, we put them into a distribution center or warehouse, and then we ship them on demand. No, we ship them at the customer’s request to about 150 countries throughout the world.

The challenge with that is freight and time. One of the things that we worked really hard on was eliminating the time it takes to produce books in a specific geographic market, and also eliminating the freight expense that’s associated with that. The extent we can make books available immediately in the market means we’ll capture more sales on behalf of publishers who have done the marketing. Through relationships with either joint ventures or other commercial relationships, we have books available for sale, printed immediately for distribution in the country in Brazil, in Germany, in Russia, and then we also own manufacturing plants connected to the channels in Australia and the UK, and we operate a joint venture with Hachette in France.

Susan mentioned metadata. The idea of loading a book block, and then loading the metadata, and then loading your international prices exposes that work to immediate distribution in all those countries – manufacture directly related to a channel in the currency that the geography requires.

REICH: Can I just add one point?

KENNEALLY: Please do, and grab that mike.

REICH: That is, it’s only recently, for PGW anyway, that we’ve had a breakout of the books that we’re in, our sales reps selling to Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Bookazine. We’re now seeing the large percentage of that business that’s going overseas, as Phil was saying. That is running somewhere between 25-30% of those books that we’re just selling in our normal way, but they’re being shipped out of the country.

KENNEALLY: That’s an important point. Jason Brockwell, I want to bring you in, from the National Book Network. This morning’s keynote talked about the advantages of print over digital in certain instances. Jen Bilik made some great points about that. From National Book Network’s perspective, describe the role that print continues to have and the importance it has, but also sort out for us what are some of the challenges in trying to be effective in both electronic and print?

BROCKWELL: Yeah, I think in terms of the importance, for us, it’s still 90% of our business. Right there, the importance is paramount, still getting into customers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Ingram, Baker & Taylor. But as Susan and Phil mentioned, where we’re seeing a lot of growth for our publishers in the wholesale channel are the international sales. You’re shipping in a normal way and generating significant international sales.

We’ve also invested a lot in POD. We formed a partnership with Edwards Brothers, and so in our fulfillment center in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, we have a POD print shop, and our clients and our publishing side, we can print POD titles from there and ship it in the same carton that we would ship a book printed on offset. We’ve also invested in that technology. We have a distribution center in the UK that also has POD, and so our clients are able to take advantage of that and have a sales team selling the book, but also be able to offer it POD. That’s helped publishers – a title that may have gone OP or OSI, it now can be available and generate demand.

KENNEALLY: Like the others on the panel, one of the advantages of NBN is this single point of entry positioning that you have. What you offer is, beyond the distribution, reporting. I’d like to bring up that aspect of all of this. Because if there’s all this activity going on across all these different marketplaces for somebody running a small to medium-sized publisher, that sounds daunting. Maybe this is a question that the others on the panel can follow up on. But talk about the importance of reporting and what people should expect from that.

BROCKWELL: Reporting and data – metadata, obviously hugely important, and we’ve invested a lot in terms of services that we offer, we call PAX, publisher access, and it gives our publishers direct access to their metadata, so they can go in 24/7, get a review, want to change or alter an author biography, maybe change a price point, keywords. Any of those kinds of things, they can go in and adjust that. It’s paramount, because Amazon makes all of this information so public. Your author can go on in a way that in the past, they weren’t able to. They see something that’s not quite right, they want it fixed immediately. We’ve had to work to give our publishers immediate access to that, so that it can get fixed very quickly.

I think the other thing in terms of information is just sales data and the amount and kinds that are available, which is great. Nielsen BookScan an obvious example, Amazon reporting, Barnes and Noble reporting, Books-A-Million, even some of the dot-com reporting that you can get, Walmart, Target. So you can get a lot of data, and again, we provide our publishers with 24/7 access to this, so they can see if they’re doing a promotion, they get a media hit, do e-mail blasts, social media campaign, they can tell, hey, this has worked, or this isn’t working quite the way that we thought. I know you have similar services.

KENNEALLY: Susan, please, it seems to me that that would be part of the hand-holding you were describing earlier, and I wonder whether the data reveals things to the customer that they might have overlooked otherwise, or something pops out that they should seize upon because it’s, if not real-time, very close to real-time data.

REICH: That’s just what I was going to say back on the education side. It’s the interpretation of the data. There is so much data available now, what do you do with all of that? What does that really mean from inventory standpoint? Within the world of PGW, because that’s what I can speak to most knowledgeably, any publisher would have an account manager, which is their main point of entry. In addition, they have a catalog, a marketing information person that works with them on metadata, and then the third person in this triumvirate is an inventory control person.

So they’re all looking at the data, as well as the publisher, and interacting and making decisions about whether to reprint, making sure that the eISBNs are in there. Most of the marketing now is done for both P and E, with Barnes and Noble and Nook, with Amazon and Kindle, with Apple. All that is things that we work with you.

KENNEALLY: Let me get the mike back over to Phil. Maybe the way to continue the conversation is to move from data to what one does with the data. I know that Ingram offers a variety of niche services that enable marketing plans for a specific country. You have information about pricing, because pricing is obviously going to vary widely across Europe and across the rest of the world. Talk about that and how the data then informs those things, and how you then work with the customer in that relationship you have.

OLLILA: With the reach that we have at Ingram, we’re in a position to have a good, strong look at what books are selling for all over the world. That puts us in a position to give advice on pricing, to give guidance on pricing, and also to help our clients understand what’s happening in the market.

But going back to this question of a benefit of working with a distributor, and this does tie into the data issue – one of the most important things that we can do as a distributor is save the publisher time. More and more over the last few years, more of my conversations with publishers have been, how can you save me time? Because I’m spending an inordinate amount of time managing back-office or managing other relationships, and it’s taking time away from the development of content, and the development of good content has become highly, highly competitive.

What publishers want now is they want to be in a position to create competitive content with the resources that they have, so they can compete by category, by subject, by geography, but also outsource what they can to a trusted partner. I think that’s one of the things that this panel’s about.

When we think about saving the publisher time, it’s also about integration. Can you integrate your publishing program in terms of the products that you’re creating in E, in physical, and in print-on-demand, and put yourself in a position to have worldwide reach? So if you can save the publisher time, if we can provide an integrated package that enables them to manage their products all in one place, and we can provide global reach, we put ourselves in a pretty good position competitively.

All that comes along with, as Jason mentioned, real-time reporting. Can you observe your business every single day, so you can adjust your content plan to be as competitive as it can possibly be?

KENNEALLY: Jason, I believe that this whole notion of being able to focus on content is one that’s pretty important to you. You must hear that particularly from your core clients, because they don’t have a floor full of people to work with. They’ve got one, two, three, a dozen folks.

BROCKWELL: Sure, absolutely. We find our publishers are coming to us more and more for different things, for a lot of back-office things.

KENNEALLY: Are they saying they’re overwhelmed? Do you hear that, as well?

BROCKWELL: Overwhelmed, I think just in terms of keeping leaner staff structures and bringing in interns, and people who maybe used to be a position becomes an intern and is submitting sales data or sales handles or doing comparative title information that may be not as valuable if it was somebody that was in the business and understood the business a little bit better.

Back to the question of value and reasons to work for a distributor, two things I’d point out. One, for a small to medium-sized publisher, working with a lot of different customers, one of the things that can happen is, as you know, big customers and small customers cannot pay on time, and that can have big impacts on your cash flow. Working with a distributor like NBN, we guarantee receivables for our client, so that solves a big cash flow problem for a lot of clients, and I think of the attractive things.

Another, and mentioning being in a flat overall market and the need to reduce costs, I think that’s another thing that you can look for a distributor to do, because we’re consolidators, and we can bring a lot of business to a particular vendor, for instance, a conversion house, a printer. We’re often – because of those economies of scale, we’re able to get better rates sometimes than a small or medium-sized publisher would be able to do on their own. Those kinds of things, I think, are other things you can look at.

KENNEALLY: And Susan Reich, the program is called Getting the Most Out of Your Distributor, more or less, and out of partnerships. What Jason was just saying is that publishers, and again, probably more the independents, the small and medium-sized publishers, are really trying to just get the most out of everything. Do you hear that, and what are some of the things that PGW has done recently to help them get the most out of what they do?

REICH: Yeah, I would just add a couple of things here, and that is we’ve found that people have been self-distributed for 25, 30 years, for the first time, they’re considering outsourcing distribution. That’s because of the shifting marketplace. It’s variable costs versus fixed costs. Those fixed costs of warehousing and staffing, we can take that away, and it becomes a variable cost, and I think that’s really important in today’s world.

The other thing that I will say, and we’ll see how these folks, what they think about it – it’s a bargain. It’s a bargain because there’s a lot of competition out there. Honestly, the big guys have jumped back in because they have capacity in their warehouses now, and the world has changed. We’re having to meet that competition. So I think you get a lot for your money.

KENNEALLY: Phil, one of the ways the world is changing is just the way we sell books today. Distribution conjures up notions of warehouses, as Susan has just mentioned. It emphasizes the physical, I think. At least for a fellow like me, I think of it in that regard. But with digital, it’s changing the whole dynamic of how a bookseller sells, and to whom they sell. They move from the B2B world to the B2C world. What are the kinds of things that Ingram is doing to help meet that particular challenge, to make the most of those B2C marketing approaches?

OLLILA: One of the use cases that we have is many publishers are setting up titles for offset production in their largest markets. It’s cost-efficient to develop a distribution relationship where you have physical inventory. But that same title can be available in the rest of the markets in a manufacture-on-demand format. More and more, publishers are opening up formats by geography and having a different inventory strategy for the same title in each market. I think that’s pretty interesting. You could do that in hardcover and you could do that in paperback, one of the things. But the place where all starts is with the e-workflow, and that was a question that came up in a roundtable yesterday. If you have a good strong workflow to start of how you create your product and where that book is going to go and what your plan is, it’s very easy to make it available in all the formats required, taking the best advantage of the supply chain, whether it’s a physical supply chain or a virtual (inaudible) supply chain or an e-supply chain. And so one of the things we’d encourage publishers to think about doing is, from the point of conception of the idea, what are the markets it’s targeted toward, and what is your distribution strategy?

KENNEALLY: And one of the ways you’ve bifurcated is push and pull. What do you mean by that?

OLLILA: Yeah, that’s a very good point. In the past, the strategy, as I mentioned earlier was, let’s push products into the bookstores, create some demand for that, and then ideally if we can get beyond the barriers of getting past the buyers and into the bookstore, having pushed that product out, we’ll be in a position to sell some.

Now, most demand for most titles, and you can see it in the data, whether it’s BISG or Nielsen or anywhere – any of the global data sources for where books are sold – most of the data would indicate that books now are in a pull environment, where the consumer is pulling the book through the system. And so one of the things that we talk a lot with the publishing company that own, Graphic Arts, is how can you take the content and repurpose it in a format to meet the consumer demand, no matter where they are? And we spend a lot of time talking with publishers about formats, about where formats sell, about how to take content apart and repurpose it into a variety of different delivery methods, be they E or P or some equivalent of manufacture on demand.

KENNEALLY: That’s an interesting consulting offering to think about pulling the content apart and repurposing it for a particular marketplace. Is there an example you can tell us about where that’s been effective?

OLLILA: Yeah, a good example is – actually, since we’re in the southwest, we’ve got a great example with David Muench, who’s a famous photographer, well known for his national parks photography. We’re now in a position to take his work and repurpose it in a variety of formats for the specific areas of the country or specific kinds of national parks or lodges or what have you. So those are the kinds of books that you can work on.

You could also take narrative fiction and nonfiction. We had a great presentation yesterday on the idea of how to sell free. A good example is, in an e-workflow environment, you can be thinking about those things and how to take content apart for the purposes of marketing in addition to the purpose of sale if you have the right workflows upfront.

KENNEALLY: Jason, could you add your thoughts on that point, which is that content is content, but the format, the container it’s in, really does vary from marketplace to marketplace, and how do you work with publishers to make sure they’ve got the right container for the right market?

BROCKWELL: Yeah, I think it’s interesting. Upfront you’re making those decisions globally, but it can change over time as well. So we’ve had a publisher that we recently signed and worked with. Their book started as POD only. They set it up with CreateSpace and they set it up with LSI, had nice success with it, but the demand of platform that they had built, could see the sales and wanted a broader distribution, and so they came to us to solve that for them. Instead of doing it POD, we set them up and were able to work with them to get offset printing at very attractive pricing, warehouse, and got it out quickly, and got it distributed into the chain markets, wholesalers that weren’t carrying it, and beginning the process now, just really started with them, getting it out to independent book stores and making it available there.

Another example is in a product similar to the free example that maybe starts as sort of a promotional piece, a giveaway, or as a e-book, or very small price, low price at $1.99, $2.99. We even, in some cases, set that title up as a POD title so that a customer can make the choice. They can get it as E, but if the customer would prefer, for whatever reason to get it as a print version, then there’s that capability, as well. Not that there are ever going to be huge numbers, necessarily with that, but it gives the customer the choice.

KENNEALLY: Right, and again, it’s all about maximizing the opportunity of the book itself, the content itself presents.

Susan Reich, we’re talking here about a variety of formats and ways of slicing and dicing content and freeing it from certain kinds of containers. But standards still count, and so I want to sort of bring us back to that notion, that there are some things that across the marketplaces publishers need to do well. Tell me whether you agree with that notion.


KENNEALLY: I hope so.

REICH: I agree 100%. One of the things, when you work with a distributor, you get the expertise of a lot of sales and marketing professionals. We still do work in seasons, and we can talk about that again at another moment, but we meet seasonally with our publishers and talk about the books – what are the title, the format, the price? Who’s the market for the book, who you’re trying to reach? What month is the right month to publish the book? BISAC codes – we just had a webinar given to all of our clients about BISAC codes because we want four of them, and it can make a real difference in the library market by adding that one extra code.

So all of those things are really important to get each and every book launched well, and that’s what I think independent publishing is about, and working on the backlist as well as the front list.

KENNEALLY: And another standard that probably is true around the world is customer service.

REICH: Correct.

KENNEALLY: People want the content to look good, they want to feel the book is what they were expecting to have. And how does PGW approach that whole notion of providing customer service on a global level? It must be a challenge.

REICH: We have a large – I think over 40 people working in our customer service, which is located in Jackson, Tennessee, so that would be the bookstore customer calling in to them. But one other point I wanted to make about a new service that’s being offered – at least new for us and for Perseus, and that’s direct to consumer. As more and more publishers, especially niche publishers have direct access to the consumers, we’re able to do that kind of fulfillment now.

KENNEALLY: Jason, what about customer service? Talk about MBN’s approach to that. It’s interesting, the point Susan just made, about direct to consumer.

BROCKWELL: Yeah, absolutely. Our customer service facility is based in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania, a talented customer service team. One of the things when you sign up with a distributor that you can expect to get in terms of direct to consumer stuff, certainly something that we’re capable of doing and manage for a number of our publishers, including now developing shopping cart functions and those kinds of things for publishers to manage those Web orders.

I think the other thing, just one of the pressures that we’re seeing, and one of the trends that technology, and as small and medium sized publishers are competing against self-publishing platforms and how do they add value for the author and the technology that makes it so easy to get a book out quickly, immediately, and start generating revenue. Maybe the author has a platform that’s based on social media or they’re going to be able to do an e-mail blast and they’re not depending on the traditional long media where you have to publish a book eight months, and you’re expecting to get a distribution into Barnes and Noble and other kinds of stores, and that’s sort of an alternative model, that sort of tensions between that.

I think we’ve all been feeling it, and more and more publishers wanting to get quick to market with a title, but understanding the limitations with that, I think, is a big part of what we’ve been spending a lot of time explaining to our publishers. It’s very good if you want to have availability online, dotcom. – if it’s an e-book only thing, it can be very effective. But if the expectation is different, to be in independent bookstores, to effectively build distributions into the chains, and you’re planning to build a more typical marketing campaign that’s depending on national media and getting reviews than that seasonal, that traditional publishing cycle is really important.

KENNEALLY: Right, and Phil Ollila, that’s a great point, and one I’d like to go into depth with you around this program, Global Connect, because speed to market isn’t just about the market here in North America, it’s the market around the world – you brought that up before. And you have these very special relationships, some with retailers in-country. Talk about how that helps to ensure that the speed to market is what it needs to be.

OLLILA: Specifically, in terms of Global Connect, what that means is, you present us with a file, we make that file available in all the channels with all the pricing in all the geographies where it might be available. We have a goal of getting to 80% of the population of the world within 48 hours.

KENNEALLY: That’s something like, what, these days, five, six billion people.

OLLILA: Yup. And we think it’s achievable through distribution through manufacture on demand. And of course that doesn’t fit every format, but it fits a lot of the formats that are available in the book business. With improvement in manufacture on demand, that’ll certainly happen, just in terms of the quality of the books that are required. We think we can get to about 50% of the world’s population today within 48 hours. That’s really, really important from the perspective of marketing.

To touch on marketing for a moment, there’s a push and pull going on in the marketing business, too, which Susan referred to. One is this idea of seasons – creating in the old-school way what we would call marketing mass. So having your advertising programs ready for the retailer, making sure that your publicity matches your availability strategies at a bookstore. Making sure that your salespeople are pulling the books out of the bag at the right time with all those retailers. That created marketing mass.

What’s happening is as that marketing mass takes place, it’s creating demand in places other than where you want the books to be placed. So why it’s so important to have the book available, if it’s possible for you in terms of the formats that you publish, not only for the target market, but for all these incremental markets. So marketing should be thought of from a seasonal perspective, not only in terms of what am I going to do in the market I traditionally sell to, but with global availability of information through the Internet, through social networks, through how enthusiasts pursue knowledge about books and what’s coming out, that publicity goes global, even if your only intent was to push it into a certain marketplace. Having your books available on a global basis, you’ll get incremental sales.

KENNEALLY: What’s remarkable about that, my mind cast back to some of the dramatic lay-downs of the Harry Potter books, all around the world, one day, one moment after midnight. What I hear you saying, though, is that that’s something that is within the reach of everybody in this room.

OLLILA: Absolutely true. Now the idea of the reach of Harry Potter on day and date, which required millions and millions of copies pre-positioned throughout the world to take advantage of that mass of publicity and marketing, that’s all possible today with virtual inventory. So as you think about your marketing plans, not only think about what your primary focus is, but also think about what your incremental focus is in terms of worldwide availability.

So I think we’re going to see two kinds of marketing. I think we’re going to see traditional seasonal marketing with this objective of making books available on the same day and date backed up with marketing plans and discussions with buyers and all those things that we traditionally do in our business. I think we’re also going to see lots of titles, many, many more titles dropping in because the kind of marketing that you need to do to make those books available is not that great. So what we’re going to see is two kinds of marketing – the kinds of books that you want to have this huge push on and the kinds of marketing where an availability strategy and getting it out there when it’s ready makes perfect sense.

KENNEALLY: Susan Reich, I see you nodding your head vigorously. You’re in agreement there. It’s an interesting dichotomy between that sort of traditional approach of the seasons and then the other sort of just in time. Talk about that.

REICH: In just in time, there’s lots of reasons. Current events might drive it. But what we try to work with our publishers on is make sure that there will be some recognition by the marketplace for the urgency of doing a drop in. Have a reason to take it out of that season because if not, you are losing some ground there. Again, our whole goal is to maximize sales for each and every book.

KENNEALLY: So a reason to drop out of a season. I like that, that’s a great little catch phrase. Jason, a final thought on that point, and we’ll go ahead and take questions from the audience.

BROCKWELL: Sure. Just straddling the two, I think traditionally buyers and customers have always demanded that reason. Well, why are you crashing it? Why isn’t this on time? Why is this publisher being lazy? But I think that’s changing in some ways, and in important ways. For some publishers, like I say, getting it available quickly, the changes in the way books are marketed in terms of social media, in terms of the ways authors are building platforms, there is a reason and there is a way to get a book sold and distributed on that smaller cycle, and I think our customers are adapting to that in different ways and at different stages. But it’s an ongoing process, for sure.

KENNEALLY: Well, I want to thank you for joining us today. I want to thank our panel, Jason Brockwell, Director Of Sales at the National Book Network, Phil Ollila, chief content officer of Ingram Content Group, and finally, Susan Reich, president of Publishers Group West. Thank you all very much. My name’s Chris Kenneally, thank you.


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