Thursday, June 30, 2011


We held our summer seminar - a new tradition, only started last year - on Tuesday afternoon at RIBA, with ominous thunder rumbling around. But it turned out to be a thoroughly pleasant and instructive afternoon; or so those who have commented have told me. It's a less formal event than most of our seminars, almost entirely confined to the BIC community itself, which provides a chance to catch up on a range of issues with which BIC is currently involved. Not a digital seminar, either - too many of those these days - but digital and the change digital is bringing to our industry inevitably loomed large.

The seminar was kicked off with a thought-provoking keynote by Sheila Bounford, now MD of NBN International and previously executive director of the IPG. She has very helpfully blogged her assessment of the seminar, saving me the trouble of doing so and at the same time making many of the points I tried to raise in my summing up at the end of the afternoon but in a more robust and succinct way than I could possibly do. You can read it here.

The seminar presentations will be posted next Monday here.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Considering the urgency with which the Book Industry Study Group responded in the spring of last year to publishers' need for a standard sales report message in order to perform their legal and financial obligations under the agency model, it is worrying that the resulting standard has taken until today to be published. We must make sure that the momentum has not been lost.

How distributors would deal with invoicing digital products which had already been sold was an issue which first hit BIC's radar back in 2008. It was soon established that a great deal of manual intervention - and therefore cost - was involved in interpreting reports from resellers which arrived in a variety of shapes and sizes and at unpredictable intervals. The number of digital products sold at that time was tiny, but even then it was clear that a significant increase in volumes - on which the drive for digitisation was predicated - would make the situation unmanageable. We looked at an EDItX Digital Sales Report message which had been devised for a particular North American requirement in 2003 which seemed to fit the bill.

Although we continued to promote the need for a standard, the coming of the agency model in the US both provided a real impetus for adoption but also required that we wait for it to be completed. Now, at last, it is; and we believe it is an important step forward for the digital supply chain.