Of Plumbers And Publishing
Monday, April 2, 2018
Posted by: Brian O'Leary
You may have seen that we’ve organized this weekly newsletter the same way we organize our committee work. Although related articles aren’t available every week for every content area, the basic structure is the same as our five standing committees: content structure; metadata, rights; subject codes; and supply chain.
I admit … these aren’t terms that just roll off your tongue. Relatively few people start their days thinking about ‘content structure’ or ‘supply chain’. At BISG, our core interests make up what I sometimes call the plumbing of the book business.
Most people don’t think that much about plumbing, until it doesn’t work the way they want it to work. Then, they think about it a lot. In contrast, BISG committees think about plumbing a lot, largely with the goal of making sure you don’t have to.
This is a busy year for committees, which will collectively meet a total of 60 times in calendar 2018. More than 500 people are registered to work on one or more of BISG’s five standing committees, and several dozen more participate in a set of ad hoc working groups that convene to address specific problems identified in committees.
We manage all of that work by creating and updating what we call committee charters. Each committee is asked to consider and address a handful of overarching themes, including:
- The current state of their part of the industry
- Objectives for the coming year
- The impact and benefits of their work for industry stakeholders
- Deliverables – what the industry can expect to see as a result of the committee’s work; and
- Blockers, things that may limit or prevent progress in key areas
In late 2017, we re-started this formal process with each committee. The BISG board reviewed the results in January and offered its thoughts on how to strengthen or clarify various charters. The final charters will be included in a report that is part of the program at BISG’s annual meeting of members, scheduled for April 27.
Much of what each committee plans to work on is technical in nature – plumbing, at its best. But the committee charters are also part of an overall effort to meet BISG’s four core objectives, which are to:
- Serve as an information hub for the book publishing business
- Help the industry work better by creating and promoting standards and best practices
- Research topics of immediate and emerging interest to the industry
- Build a community of stakeholders who can represent the industry as a whole in addressing its challenges and opportunities
Charters help us create alignment with strategic objectives, surface challenges that may affect multiple committees, and foster a clear sense of purpose in our member-led committee efforts. The plans and progress throughout the year are presented in webinars (each committee does at least two each year), in programs about topics like rights and blockchain, and in events like our three metadata summits.
So it’s plumbing, but created and refined as part of a larger context. Each month, our members gather to consider, debate, evaluate, and improve how book publishing works. We’re happy to have this newsletter gently remind us that our committees are out there, working to solve problems before they become something you’d notice.