Sunday, March 22, 2020
Posted by: Brian O'Leary
If your email is anything like mine, in the last two weeks you've been inundated by messages from every company that wants or has your business. The emails have a similar structure, each acknowledging that we're part of something unprecedented, that we're in it together, and that they've taken every step they can to be ready.
Many of these messages have been helpful. We've captured a cross-section in this week's email round-up, under a new category on "Working Remotely." We're also including links to news about platforms that are opening content to educational institutions now grappling with distance learning on a scale none of us thought possible a month ago. It's not an exhaustive roundup, but they links offer examples of how the industry has reacted to help solve problems in real time.
At BISG, we're trying to think through the issues the supply chain is facing now and in the mid-term, particularly if the call for social distancing persists for months, rather than weeks. This week, we'll field a short survey to capture information about issues and risks associated with managing during the pandemic. And, we are already planning a virtual meeting to discuss the results with representatives of companies from across the book industry supply chain.
To make that virtual meeting happen, members of the BISG board are reaching out to colleagues across the industry, inviting them to a conversation about issues, risks, and opportunities in the current environment. Our board represents all segments of the supply chain, and in this meeting members will present what we learn from the survey and moderate a conversation about what it means and how we can respond as an industry.
Because our membership includes publishers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, retailers, libraries, and industry service partners, BISG is in a good position to foster conversations that look across the industry. That broad perspective helps us find opportunities to work collaboratively to respond to this challenge, as well as the ones that will follow.
In many ways, BISG was built for times like these. Our committee structure has evolved over the past 25 years, but it continues to bring people together to solve problems that affect two or more parts of our business. Our metadata, rights, subject codes, supply chain, and workflow committees have offered virtual participation on a consistent basis for more than three years. It's really the norm at this point.
As I wrote last week when announcing our decision to postpone BISG's annual meeting, in-person events have represented less than a third of all programming delivered since the start of 2017. In the last three-plus years, we've hosted more than 75 webinars on a wide range of publishing topics. This work will continue, and we expect to adapt the schedule to more frequently deliver useful information to members of the book industry supply chain who have had their ability to convene or travel necessarily restricted. We've already added a rights webinar originally scheduled for London Book Fair to the April calendar.
In his book, 7 Lessons for Leading in Crisis (Wiley, 2009), Bill George argues that we need to get ready for the long haul. He also cautions, "Never waste a good crisis." Things will at some point return to a new normal for us. In the meantime, BISG will continue its efforts to build resiliency in the book industry supply chain. Whether it's a response to COVID-19 or the pursuit of a more efficient and effective book industry supply chain, our board and our members are working on it.