The BISG Annual Meeting: Full Speed Ahead
Sunday, April 28, 2019
Posted by: Brian O'Leary
Last Friday, BISG hosted its 43rd Annual Meeting of Members, welcoming more than 200 registrants to the Harvard Club of New York for a day of discussion, discovery, and networking across the supply chain. The meeting, which sold out earlier in the week, was the largest in memory, and the program was packed with panels digging deep into the issues BISG is working on.
Rakuten CEO Michael Tamblyn's closing keynote, "Money On The Table: Opportunities Missed in the Digital Supply Chain", provided the perfect exclamation point to a program that started with a frank discussion of the challenges we face in securing adequate capacity to print and deliver physical books in the U.S. market. Tamblyn outlined six ways publishers fail to use metadata effectively, leaving money on the table:
- Local times for local sales.
- Local prices.
- Use your rights.
- Test price elasticity.
- Add series data. Every time.
- Power up your synopses.
And that capacity discussion: Matt Baehr (Book Manufacturer's Institute) and Janet McCarthy Grimm (Lindenmeyr Paper) discussed how changes in grade availability, printer consolidation, a tight labor market, and even a shortage of trucking capacity made it likely we'll see continued crunches in the future. They also called for continued coordination at an industry level, through organizations that include BISG, to address the underlying factors.
Chris Kenneally (Copyright Clearance Center) led a panel that included two agents and two publishers discussing innovations in rights sales. The volatility of certain international markets was a lively topic, as is the persistent need for relationships across this business.
With an opening declaration that "metadata is a workflow problem" (and I think it is, too), Welman Digital's Carolyn Pittis moderated a discussion among three publishers (Penguin Random House, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Princeton University Press) focused on building efficiencies across the supply chain. The topic fit neatly into BISG's launch of a workflow committee earlier in 2019.
Before lunch, Sourcebooks founder and CEO Dominique Raccah asked representatives from ReaderLink, Ingram Content Group, and Digital Book World to get specific in things they'd done that worked, as well as at least one thing that didn't work. The ongoing importance of data kept rising to the top of the take-away list.
During lunch (which took a while; we hear the feedback and promise to do better next year!), BISG recognized Mike Shatzkin with the Sally Dedecker Award for Lifetime Service, following a heartfelt introduction by Michael Cader (Publishers Marketplace). We also recognized the late Robin Seaman with the Industry Champion Award, making a contribution to Benetech in her name.
After lunch, consultant Julie Blattberg hosted a conversation about the innovative workforce, inviting representatives from Wattpad, Hachette Livre, and StoryFit to talk about the things that create and maintain innovative cultures in their companies. Although Hachette is a global company with a long history, its better practices often matched what was in place at Wattpad and StoryFit.
Over lunch, BISG also conducted it annual meeting of members, electing six candidates to the board of directors, and confirming Andrew Savikas (getAbstract) as chair for two years starting July 1, 2019. The budget for 2020 was approved, and I shared an overview of the financial results from our fiscal years from 2016 to 2020 (budget). BISG is on track to generate a positive contribution for the third consecutive year, and the budget for 2020 expects that we will continue that trend.
That brings us back to Michael Tamblyn. When Dominique Raccah introduced his talk, she asked everyone to "buckle your seat belts, because you're about to learn stuff at the speed of Tamblyn." He lived up to that promise, inspiring the audience and sending us home on a high note. I'm looking forward to moving BISG ahead at just that speed, too.