"Our Best Work Starts With A Problem"
Monday, March 12, 2018
Posted by: Brian O'Leary
Over the next two weeks, BISG will publish four different surveys designed to capture information about ONIX 3, EPUB 3, and the state of the supply chain within book publishing. If you’re like me, you’re solicited to answer more surveys than you have time to consider. I hope this backstory can help us break through the clutter (and get you to complete one or two of ours).
In explaining the value of BISG, I often open by claiming that “our best work starts with a problem.” I mean this literally. Within publishing, BISG works to solve problems that affect two or more parts of the supply chain, along the way reducing costs, increasing revenues, or improving transparency of data for two or more sets of trading partners.
These problems come to our attention in many ways, most often through committee. Each month, our five standing committees meet to surface and discuss pain points affecting various parts of our industry. Annually, committees review and update their charters, focusing on what they can do to best address the problems they know the industry faces.
In 2018, BISG has several priorities, none bigger than improving the quality and timeliness of metadata in the U.S. market. We’re planning in-person discussions for metadata providers (May) and recipients (July), as well as a joint metadata summit (September). To inform these discussions, we need data, and that’s why we are fielding two parallel studies of providers and recipients, centered on current use and plans to implement ONIX 3.
At BISG, we are also concerned with the relatively limited adoption of EPUB 3, notably among trade publishers. The standard was introduced several years ago, and BISG endorsed it in a policy statement approved around the time EPUB 3 was first released. But, the majority of digital books are still created using some form of EPUB 2. The older format does not readily support certain features, including accessibility for print-impaired audiences, that mobile reading audiences increasingly expect.
For both metadata and EPUB 3, we want to understand why the new standards have not been fully adopted and what BISG and others can do to change that situation. These are responses to known gaps in the implementation of existing standards. But, there are also times when we need to address issues that have yet to be fully described.
That’s why you’ll soon see our first “State of the Supply Chain” survey, which features more open-ended questions about the issues, concerns, and opportunities that the industry faces in 2018 and beyond. The results of the survey will be presented at BISG’s annual meeting of members, scheduled to take place in New York on April 27, and of course the findings will be widely shared with our committees and the industry as a whole.
All of these surveys will help BISG and its members identify and address the problems that book publishing faces today and in the future. The answers will be shared widely, prompting discussion, likely some debate, and ultimately creating a better path, whether for metadata, digital books, or another part of our business. That’s why I hope you’ll consider completing the surveys. Our best work does start with a problem, and you’re part of our solution.