Tom Woll, President, Cross River Publishing Consultants, Inc.
Thomas Woll has over twenty years of experience in the areas of trade, direct response, professional and college publishing, all at senior management levels. He has, uniquely, been directly responsible for companies as small as start-ups right up to medium to large size ones. In addition, Thomas has extensive experience working with magazine companies who wish to leverage their editorial product into book publishing efforts. @TheBookMaster caught up with him at a recent publishing event.
BM: In what areas of the industry has Print On Demand (POD) taken off?
TW: POD is taking off in all areas of the industry, from the very smallest publishers to the largest. In the case of the very small, publishers are using POD more as a cash-flow tool as well as a way to minimize risk in the early stages of a title launch. Rather than printing larger quantities, they are using POD to print micro quantities in order to fulfill orders as they come in. Since wide distribution is difficult for the smaller publishers, particularly as many sell only through their own websites and/or Amazon, bn.com and other web vendors, POD provides a significant benefit to the smaller publisher.
The mid to large size publishers use POD for similar cash-flow reasons, but focus their use of this technology towards their backlist management, rather than as a front-list tool. Larger publishers are cutting back their initial print quantities due to market realities (Border’s bankruptcy, smaller independent bookstore base, etc.) but still use traditional offset for most of their front-list publishing. Backlist management, however, is a perfect use of POD for cash-flow and lowered inventory control. With less money tied up in inventory, there is more to put towards other, more fruitful uses, such as marketing, acquisition of other new titles, etc.
BM: What are the key areas for publishers to consider in terms of IT systems when incorporating POD into their supply chains?
TW: POD should be integrated in many of the standard systems that publishers use. It particularly affects warehouse management systems, where there is a considerable push among most publishers to reduce fixed overheads by reducing space and fine-tuning replenishment requirements. Publishers can make some real savings in this area, but they can only achieve this if POD is built into their systems planning and based upon sound purchasing and cost-accounting controls. Thus these systems, along with the editorial and production scheduling, should be well integrated so that the title P&L and title management is built upon fundamentally sound financial reasoning.
BM: In what way do POD providers help or hinder this process?
TW: The POD providers can be a big help to the smaller publishers, particularly if their systems are integrated with the publishers. The larger publishers tend to integrate POD systems straight into their own warehouses, which gives them better control. Having POD built directly into the order flow can help to cut costs and increase the overall efficiency of the operation.
BM: How can applications like Bookmaster help?
TW: Bookmaster can help by streamlining and controlling the editorial, production, warehouse, and accounting functions so that POD products can be identified, scheduled, produced, shipped, and accounted for in a practical, efficient, cost-effective manner by the various departments involved.