2012 – 2013 was a year of transition for BISG. As a trade group that represents the book industry, we reflect the transformation in the midst of which most of you find yourselves. As you change, so do we. In our case, as you will hear from Ken Michaels, it has been a thoughtful and methodical transformation. But this is not a journey from caterpillar to butterfly. We are not becoming something wholly different. We can’t. Too much of what we already do is too important to the smooth, efficient operation of the entire ecosystem. It’s more like a backwards compatible software upgrade. I use that analogy because we can’t simply stop working while we attempt to understand our future direction. In the next few minutes I’m going to highlight some of the work we’ve done on your behalf in the preceding twelve months, and, before turning the podium back over to Ken, will end with a brief glimpse into the BISG of the present.
The publishing industry is large and complex. As such it is represented by a diverse grouping of industry organizations. But where most of our sister organizations represent vertical slices of the ecosystem, BISG represents the industry on a horizontal axis.
We continue to represent and attract a diverse group of member companies. For example, in this past year, we welcomed traditional publishers like WW Norton, as well as technology companies like Intel and HP. A focus on membership is a key priority for 2014. A significant group of new entrants to the publishing space are disrupting traditional business models and are challenging our very way of thinking. We are actively engaging with these players, trying to learn what we can from them, and involving them in the business of building consensus between trading partners.
In addition to expanding our general membership, we also expanded our Board of Directors. Last year we added two new companies to the BISG Board. Both John Rubin and John Wicker have been immediate and important contributors to the strategic discourse that happens among the members of our Board. If you haven’t looked at a list of our Board I encourage you to do so. You can find it in the Annual Report you were handed when you arrived. It’s an impressive group.
For those of you not familiar with BISG governance, we are led by a thirty six member Board. That Board then appoints an Executive Committee. The Executive Committee consists of the Officers – Ken, our chair, Tara, our Vice Chair, George, our Treasurer, and Judy Appelbaum, our secretary – as well as up to six at large members. This group is heavily engaged in the governance of BISG at every level. This year we were pleased to welcome three true industry thought leaders – Maureen McMahon from Kapln, Fran Toolan from Firebrand, and Tom Turvey from Google.
If you’ve ever been to a BISG meeting of any sort, you have likely seen this graphic. It’s what we call our virtuous circle, and it neatly divides are efforts into three main areas of endeavor.
Let’s start with Standards & Best practices. BISG organizes several committees of industry volunteers to identify and promote industry best practices, and to maintain and manage key industry standards. While each committee plays a vitally important role, I’ll focus briefly on three that have been very active over this past year.
Let’s start with BISG’s Metadata Committee. Walk down the hall of any book industry stakeholder and you won’t get far before hearing the word metadata. “Why should we care about metadata?”“Our metadata isn’t as goo as our competitors and we’re losing money.”Or even “Has anyone seen my metadata? I left it in the fridge, clearly marked as mine, and now it’s gone.”Seriously, metadata is on everyone’s mind. Including BISG’s.Our Metadata Committee is chaired by Richard Stark of Barnes & Noble and attracts a broad cross-section of industry players.
These are just a few of the issues we tackle, and this is a small sampling of the participation at recent meetings. There are many more. I’ll focus on one issue… the issue that occupied the lion’s share of the committee’s attention during the year was a revision to our Metadata Best Practices.
Dozens of individuals worked for more than a year on the first substantial revision to our Metadata Best Practices since 2005. The committee approved a draft in June, the membership reviewed it in July, and the Board approved it in August. The document was published in partnership with BookNet Canada two weeks ago and we couldn’t be more proud of the result. The revised edition highlights new marketing data elements, such as awards, and provides examples in both ONIX 2.1 and ONIX 3.0. In addition to BookNet Canada, we’re indebted to EDItEUR for the creation of this document.
The publication is currently available to all members and non-members free of charge as a PDF download from the BISG website. And that’s a good segue to say a brief word about our website. While the site has served us well for several years, we have outgrown the content management system, and are nearing completion of a new website with a more facile back-end and an integrated member database. We will contact you when that website goes live with new login and password information. I mention this now, because if you’re a BISG member, you’ll have access to EPUB 3 and HTML versions of the Best Practices as well as the PDF. More to come on that in the next two months.
One of our busiest and most consistent Committee is the BISG Subject Codes Committee. Chaired by Connie Harbison of Baker & Taylor, the Subject Codes committee is charged with developing and maintaining the BISAC Subject Codes List. This all important lists helps publishers and their downstream partners identify the nature of the content in a standardized way.
But this past year, the Subject Codes Committee expanded its portfolio to begin work on a new global subject codes standard called Thema. Thema was created by nearly twenty national groups, including, through BISG, the U.S., and launched this past year at the London Book Fair. While we don’t think Thema will replace BISAC in the near future, it will provide an easy mapping between U.S. content and content from markets the world over.
Finally, our Content Structure Committee – Chaired by Bill Kasdorf of Apex CoVantage – is perhaps our busiest committee. If you’ve had the pleasure to work with Bill, this won’t surprise you. BISG is the happy benefactor of his boundless energy. The Content Structure Committee develops information about and best practices for representing print and digital content. This is, of course, a large mandate, but last year the group was able to pare it down by focusing mostly on issues related to EPUB 3.
Content Structure is engaged in a number of projects. I’ll focus briefly now on a series of practical field guides we’re publishing to help those involved in the creation of digital content. First out of the gate was The Field Guide to Fixed Layout for E-Books. This informative document, showing not only how to create fixed layout docs, but when and why, is thanks to the industry of a number of people, with a special shout out to Dave Cramer of Hachette. It’s already undergone one revision. The next two fields guides to publish will be on font usage in e-books, and interactivity in e-books. .
As I said, this is just a partial offering of the work undertaken in the area of standards and best practices. Let’s now turn our attention to research…
First I’m going to talk briefly about BookStats.We’ve come a long way since the BookStats project was launched just two short years ago and I think it’s important to call out what an amazing legacy the industry is developing for itself through this report.Most of you know that BookStats is produced as part of a Joint Venture between BISG and the Association of American Publishers. But we don’t do it alone. To begin, we have fantastic support from our data collection and warehousing partners, Bowker Market Research. And we have pivotal participation from nearly two thousand individual publishers, including many of the companies represented in this room.At it’s core BookStats is a tracking project. It provides publisher net unit and dollar sales across different formats, categories and channels represented by what we call the BookStats Data Cube, seen on the screen behind me. Because the full data set is available through an interactive online data dashboard that allows the ability to sort and customize views, a person could get lost in slicing and dicing the BookStats Data Cube any number of ways. Lucky, I don’t have to get into too much detail here, because BISG’s Vice Chair, Tara Catogge will be up right after me with more detail than I could ever provide in these brief remarks. I’ll just point out what everyone always asks about… and that’s “what’s the overall over-under?”
Well overall, the current edition of BookStats shows a decrease in publisher net revenue from 2011 to 2012 – a 1.1% decrease to be exact.
This was coupled with an increase in overall publisher net unit sales. A 4.2% increase, to be exact.Two interesting points from those two charts, one obvious, one not. The obvious one first. If there was a decrease in overall revenue, how could there have been an increase in units? Right, average net unit price fell. The less obvious point – Which sector of the industry accounted for most of the decline? Answer – K-12.
STUDENTProvides a baseline for tracking the rapid changes underway in the Higher Ed marketplace. Each Volume contains data from two fieldings of a core set of survey questions aimed at students enrolled in for-profit, two- and four-year colleges. It’s tracks both physical and digital preferences and has been a very successful report for us.FACULTYLast year we coupled our Student Attitudes report with a complimentary Faculty Attitudes report. We conduct this report annually – each spring – and actually use many of the same questions from the Student Attitudes report so we can compare and contract student and faculty opinions.CONSUMERFinally, we’ve been running our Consume Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey since 2009 so it’s fairly well known to all of you. Last year we can produced 4 quarterly reports and this year we’re excited to launch the fourth volume in the series just before the holidays.
So, now I’d like to begin highlighting some specific accomplishments coming out of the past year. As many of you know, BISG arranges it’s work across three categories: …..[Describe categories]CLICKTo start, I’ll focus on three initiatives coming out of standards and best practices. This work is mostly developed within BISG’s Committees…and our Committees have been very busy! You can see a full accounting of Committee work starting on page 1 of the Annual Report you all received as part of your attendee folder. I’d like to talk about three of these things in detail today.
That was a brief tour through BISG’s work this past year. Again, if you’d like to know more about anything, you know where to find us.Right now, as promised, I’d like to introduce Tara Catogge. Tara joined ReaderLink (formerly Levy Home Entertainment) in 2006 and is currently the Senior Vice President of Inbound Supply Chain. Prior to joining Levy, Tara was the Executive Vice President of Sales and Merchandising for Advanced Marketing Services, working with the wholesale clubs. I’ve recently been able to get to know Tara better following her appointment to BISG’s Executive Committee and I can tell you no one loves data more than Tara. Appropriately then, I’d like to invite Tara to the stage to talk with us a bit about constructing meaningful strategy from multitudes of data.
Volume 3 Accomplishments
Published 2 months
earlier than previous
Data analysts at Bowker
employed a more rigorous
set of procedures to
ensure data integrity –
we’re more confident in
the data than ever before!