Friday, October 20, 2006

Data Data Data

As the world becomes more and more technologically savvy, it seems that the expectations are that making all these systems talk to each other is easy.

It's not!

Technologists are good a building tools that can move information from one place to another, and that part is - relatively - easy. The hard part is knowing what the 'data' is.

In yesterday's BISAC Metadata meeting, our group wrestled with the topic of On Sale Date vs. Strict On Sale Date for over an hour, and at the end of that conversation, I'm still not sure there was consensus. One little tiny piece of information with such big consequences for managing the rollout of a new title in the marketplace.

It occurs to me that behind the scenes in every industry, stalwarts work diligently to try and really define how their businesses work and how to maximize the efficiency of the supply chain. These are the unsung heroes that make it look easy. In our beloved industry, there are probably fewer than 50 people in the US, and probably fewer than 200 across the planet that fight the good fight every day, both among themselves and with their own constituents. Although, almost all they ever hear about are issues like, 'how come the author's name is spelled wrong on Amazon? The author is throwing a fit. '

Occasionally these issues become large enough to garner attention in the higher echelons of publishing, but for the most part, the efforts of this group are taken for granted.

During yesterdays meeting, I found myself wondering about personality traits of the participants. Some are understated, some are overstated, some are more technically oriented than others, but almost all passionately care about the book business in total, not just this 'minor' role we find ourselves in.

It's little wonder that return of our fearless committee chairman, Richard Stark, after months of recuperation from an auto accident, was met with a champagne toast. At least by those in the room, there is no question about how important his role is in our beloved industry.

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