Supply Chain Committee Charter (2023)

How we provide value to the industry

Current State

The book publishing supply chain is in flux. The supply chains for physical and digital formats, including audio, were built separately, with overlap in some areas (the role of intermediaries) and distinct differences in others (who creates the final files for different formats; how they are delivered to consumers). Remote work, shifts in supply chain capacity as printers have left the book industry or restructured financially, paper and printing capacity constraints, and an industry trend toward establishing trusted partnerships are all changing how publishing works.

At the same time, audiences are increasingly interested in related, non-book products, and publishers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers lack the standards to handle information and inventory in a timely, cost-effective manner. Demand for direct-to-consumer fulfillment options is growing. The internet has helped support the rise of legitimate third-party sellers, whose new and used-book products compete with publisher inventory, as well as gray-market and counterfeit sellers. These changes are not well-understood, and supply-chain participants require both data and strategy to address them effectively.

Objectives

  • Increase awareness about changes and challenges in the book industry supply-chain changes through research, communications, and other actions.
  • Explore the impact of developing longer-term partnerships on the efficiency and effectiveness of the book industry supply chain.
  • Promote the value of prevailing standards and best practices.
  • Update or implement standards and best practices that are of value to multiple parts of the supply chain.

Stakeholder Impact/Benefits

  • Standards that are used consistently across the supply chain reduce overall cost and increase transparency in reporting. As the nature of inventory and demand shifts, this transparency underpins the industry’s ability to track what is going on within and across channels. More widespread use of appropriate standards, including e-commerce packages, EDItX, XBITs, and interoperable file formats can reduce costs, increase flexibility managing reprints, and improve supply-chain effectiveness.
  • Discussing emerging trends, including capacity, interoperability, transparency, sustainability, and piracy and counterfeiting, informs the community and provides a foundation for coordinated change. Communication and outreach also provide BISG with opportunities to demonstrate how its committee approach yields benefits across areas that in many other parts of the industry remain siloed.
  • Creating a shared understanding of the current supply chain and the potential impact of changes promotes a shared understanding that allows the industry to focus on opportunities as well as issues and threats that it can address through enforcement, updates to standards, and potentially lobbying conducted by organizations like AAP.

Deliverables

  • Oversee the Supply Chain Communication and Data Sharing Project, with the goals of improving industry forecasting and assessing frameworks available for the information-sharing needed to support effective forecasting and supply-chain management.
  • Continue monthly “brown bag lunch” series, with each session include a short presentation on an identified topic and a chance for open discussion on topics that attendees bring to the table
  • Report findings of Barcode Standards Working Group regarding price information on print products, delivering options to create more dynamic pricing for physical goods
  • Revive Digital Sales Reporting Working Group, established in 2021, and offer recommendations for digital sales reporting standards, including a potential revision to the flat file format
  • Continue a periodic “State of the Supply Chain” monitor survey.

Blockers

Because the supply chain committee works to solve problems that affect multiple segments of the publishing industry, its membership must reflect all of those segments. Representation in key areas (manufacturing, distribution, third-party sales) is limited and needs to be bolstered so that the committee can fully address issues. Remote work requirements have exacerbated these challenges. As well, the pandemic and supply chain disruptions have affected normal communication channels and disrupted work patterns of staff, lengthening the time required for research. Finally, volunteers to staff the pricing and sales reporting working groups may not be available to support delivery in 2023.