Is it the end of the line for the warehouse?

By Oliver Holden

Much like the music industry, the digital revolution is threatening to tear book publishing apart; and it is in the warehouse where the most immediate effect is being felt as electronic distribution threatens to make physical warehouses redundant.

This trend is affecting different verticals in different ways. Educational and trade publishers (novels etc) are rapidly adopting digital delivery because of the increasing availability of readers and the ease of creating and recreating new content from old. Other sectors, such as religious publishing, are getting there but at a slower pace.

From kindergarten through to college, digitization is transforming the consumption of books in the education sector. From a teacher/student’s perspective, an ebook doesn’t have to be one single work from one author. The technology allows them to pull chapters, sections, even individual sentences from a variety of works and use them to create new works, specific to an avenue of learning. From a publishing perspective, this creates a whole new set of problems around royalties payments and rights and permissions around intellectual property (IP) ownership.

A complex series of calculations need to be made, in order to manage royalties due to a bevy of contributors, as well as tracking the rights and permissions that have been granted. Managing these processes requires a dynamic and sophisticated system, ideally integrated with other departments and operations.

Publishers may need to consider this a general licensing issue for intellectual property, rather than a business issue uniquely focused on books. This is another area where Bookmaster in particular is focusing its development, in order to deliver a product that can handle these new processes and ensure publishers can move forward positively and profitably.

Our new Rights, Royalties and Permissions system will work just as well for licensing companies as it does for publishers and this is something that publishers need to think very hard about.

In the trade publishing industry, warehouse management systems could rapidly become redundant as digital distribution becomes more dominant and physical warehouses start to disappear. While warehousing has always been a strong area for Bookmaster, we have foreseen the change and are developing a series of web services applications to ensure publishers can manage their entire range of products, from books and ebooks, to web subscriptions and ejournals, all in the same integrated system.

The backbone of these new systems is still Bookmaster, but it’s Bookmaster with a dynamic, digital-friendly front end. Customers can enjoy the stability and security of our core systems, hand-in-hand with a broad range of integrated, digital specific solutions and web-enablement services.

The rapid deployment of digital content will ultimately spell the end for many traditional book distribution warehouses across the world. This is unavoidable and inevitable. But there is still a strong distribution requirement, even if it is not physical and Bookmaster is helping these businesses - its customers, meet the immediate and future demands of their new industry.

Read more on our traditional and digital supply chain solutions »

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