Thursday, January 27, 2011


With the current obsession with digital things it's easy to forget that the supply chain for books is still delivering the vast majority of sales revenues, much of it dependent on BIC standards or standards promoted by BIC. So it's been timely to be reminded that it is also dependent on the knowledge and experience of individual IT specialists in their own companies. The suggestion that BIC should play a part in training newcomers to the industry in the dark arts of EDI, IRI and the rest has obviously struck a chord with many organisations which have realised how vulnerable they may be to that dependence.

The reaction to our survey has been amazing - and amazingly positive, apart from some concerns about cuts in training budgets - with EDI and ONIX as the current front runners among the subjects to be covered. We are keeping the survey open for another week or so and you can access it here. You don't have to be a BIC member to take part: we want the views of the whole industry and any input wil be helpful in moving this initiative forward.

Friday, January 21, 2011


It's been a busy week for BIC, with a meeting of our Digital Rights Group, a presentation to the PA's new chief executive, Richard Mollet, who is also the new Chair of BIC's main board, a technical implementation group meeting, and the first awards of our brand new accreditation scheme for supply chain excellence. Every time I've got back to my desk, though, the first thing has been to check whether the BIC web site was back and to field emails from those who had discovered it wasn't!

In a way it's a reassuring indication of the many diverse things BIC means to so many people that the temporary disappearance of the site causes such widespread annoyance and frustration. It's also a reminder of how much we have all come to expect information to be available immediately. Not all users of the site are our busy members: Nielsen's small publisher PubWeb users depend on it for the BIC subject category assignment tool which it uses and which has contributed so much to simplifying that chore.

So apologies all round to those who have been inconvenienced. The site has been problematic for a few months and now that it has been reinstalled on a new server I hope we shall all see a great improvement.

The results of the Supply Chain Excellence awards have been very gratifying, though there are some obvious omissions from the list of accredited companies which we hope will be filled very soon. The quality of the submissions was outstanding, especially given the quite demanding application form and the awkward time of year, with a good spread of companies large and small and in all sectors making the very best use of technology to reduce their costs, improve customer service and give themselves some much-needed competitive advantage.

Friday, January 7, 2011


Any of you who are looking for the e4books web site, containing mainly e-commerce resource documents accumulated during the four years leading up to e-Day, will find that the site has been taken down and the links removed. The e4books campaign is officially dead.

It was a great campaign and we mourn its passing. During the course of the four years we saw dramatic changes to the way the book trade organises itself (not all of them directly in response to e4books, though many were) and we have seen the emergence of a fitter, faster supply chain as a result.

The issues addressed by the campaign have not of course completely disappeared and BIC will continue to address them as we have done in the past. We have therefore taken much of the material created for its dedicated web site across to the main BIC site, where it can be found under 'Projects and resources' in the main menu.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Accreditation has been one of BIC's most successful undertakings. From the original BIC tick for product information, introduced way back in June 1999, through e4books and e4libraries, these schemes have caught the attention of the industry as a way of benchmarking supply chain activity which, though vitally important, never otherwise gets into the spotlight.

This month we are launching the BIC Supply Chain Excellence Awards as a successor to the e4books accreditation scheme; and hope all members (and others) will want to apply. The best thing about this and its predecessor scheme is that it is genuinely open to organisations of all kinds, large or small, which are making the best use of available technology to run their businesses more efficiently. This aspect has been emphasised more than ever in the new scheme where the application form invites input on the much wider range of efficient activity the internet and other technologies have made possible: digital publishing, print on demand, social networking and internet marketing.

During January, we shall also be reviewing those organisations which gained
e4libraries accreditation in 2010 - and making new awards for 2011; and holding our regular quarterly meeting to make awards in the BIC Product Data Excellence scheme, the present incarnation of that original 1999 BIC tick.

All these schemes enable organisations to be recognised for the ingenious and innovative answers they have come up with to resolve complex supply chain questions, to boast a little about how much better they do things than their competitors, and to set industry benchmarks for supply chain efficiency. We don't think these things get the attention they deserve. In the tough trading environment we are all facing, the cost savings technology can provide are all-important.