This is the time of year when we all try to get things finished - before taking on new tasks after the holidays. In BIC's case we have been able to conclude two longstanding pieces of work: a best practice guide for recipients of price and availability data; and our guidelines for implementing the new sales report standards.
The recipient's guide (here) is freely adapted from a similar document produced by our friends at the Book Industry Study Group and updated last year. It attempts to define the obligations on data recipients in their relationships with data providers: protecting the integrity of data received, specifying timetables for the processing of incoming information, ensuring that proper data audit trails exist, and so on. As the number of metadata feeds from publishers proliferates - if not to the extent that it has in the US - this initiative is all about trying to make the best possible information available to booksellers and their customers.
Readers of this blog will know how important we believe it is that we simplify and automate the processing of digital sales information from resellers to publishers. Now that we have tried and tested systems in place, our guidelines (here) are chiefly an exhortation to get on and use them. The standards provide the framework, but they do not define what information needs to be exchanged or the timing of the messaging - and nor do our guidelines. What is crucial is that resellers can use the same processes - ideally the same messages - for reporting sales to all their suppliers, and that suppliers can ingest identical messages from all their trading partners into their invoicing, sales, royalty and management information systems.