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What is happening in the supply chain?

The Oxford Publishers Society (OPuS) recently held an event looking at how the supply chain is changing, and one of the committee members has very kindly done a little post-game analysis for those of us who couldn’t go. Over to her!

Charly Ford has worked in the editorial department at Osprey Publishing since December 2008 and is currently a project manager specialising in the development of new digital products. She is also Oxford’s BookMachine event representative, arranging social and speaker evenings that bring together a range of people connected to Oxford’s thriving publishing industry. In 2013 Charly also became involved with the Oxford Publishing Society committee.

Charly Ford

The day of the OPuS talk ‘What is happening in the supply chain?’ (sponsored by Ingram Content Group) coincided with an absolutely glorious sunny spell. Turnout was most impressive in spite of the weather and I admire Oxford’s publishers for putting OPuS ahead of the first barbecue of the season!

In my day-to-day involvement with publishing I don’t have a great deal of contact with the people directly involved in the supply side of the business. As I work in editorial/digital, I am most content with content. That being said, it was most interesting to spend an evening listening to people who operate at the other end of the publishing chain, and to hear the ways in which publishing’s recent evolutionary leaps have affected the sales/distribution side of things.

We were treated to talks from Random House-owned GBS (Andy Willis and Colin James) and from Gardners (Bob Kelly). They all explained how much the role of the distributor has had to change and adapt, keeping up with the times and moving with the progress being made within the book business. New ways of working, and the development of whole new services to publishers and retailers, have had to be created. It was fascinating to hear how they have had to adapt to the same changes that have affected the way we work at the start of the publishing chain. Digital and the internet, among other factors, have really impacted on the entire industry – I’ll be honest and say that I had never really appreciated the extent to which distributors, a middle link in the chain between product creation and sale, have had to pivot and react to changes we are all encountering.

I cannot do the speakers justice by trying to relay all their points, thoughts and observations, so instead I will urge anyone who has not been to OPuS talks before to come along to an evening or two. A wide range of topics are covered and they all offer opportunities to learn a bit more about the industry as a whole. And as the subject of this particular evening reflects, we’re all part of a chain. There are lots of us connected, we just happen to be located at different points.

A big thank you to Charly for taking the time to write this post. I highly recommend you sign up to receive the OPuS newsletter and we’ll hopefully see you at future events!

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