The publishing industry is one of the old industries around the world. Books hold a unique place among other media. By the early nineteenth century as the scale of book production increased dramatically, editorial activities split off into the separate business of publishing. The publisher handled and copyedited the manuscripts and made the financial arrangements for publishing and distributing them; the printer produced the printed sheets that composed the book.
Globalization and virtual market place have changed relations within the industry and its supply chain. Although printers in some areas of the country continued in the traditional manner, by the early twentieth century, this new pattern of industrial organization could be found everywhere. The main challenge of “virtualization” is the structural, organizational and technological complexity, the growth of international financial and trade relations and the integration of national economies.
Industry Background and Business Processes
Professional publishing began in early nineteenth-century America as a highly personalized business with few full-time professional positions. The publisher himself reviewed manuscripts, contracted writers, suggested the design of the book, arranged for printing and binding, devised advertising campaigns and other marketing techniques, and took responsibility for distribution. Most publishers even did their own elementary double-entry bookkeeping. A clerk or secretary might help out with these various tasks, but the “house” felt the hand of the publisher in every aspect of the business (Davidson 11).
A few family members (e.g., the Harper brothers in the early 1800s) or partners often shared managerial responsibility. Publishers sent out more books and titles to booksellers and distributors, and the scale of their business operations increased correspondingly (Applegate et al 20). Periodicals with mass circulations opened a complex maze of advertising opportunities. The number of booksellers scattered throughout the country exceeded the capability of the already burdened publisher to establish personal contact through correspondence (Davidson 14).
The adaption of the Adams steam press (c. 1836) for some types of publishing assured cheap, quickly printed large editions that required dozens of laborers and supervisors to watch them. Electrotyping and stereotyping created an extensive backlog of books that could be called into print at any time in response to the shifting market; before this time, each edition had its type recomposed, an arduous and expensive process. New marketing techniques, like the extensive use of canvassers and book agents in the field, sometimes placed the number of employees of the publisher in the thousands. Publishers experimented throughout the late nineteenth century with a division of work that became characteristic of the twentieth-century publishing industry, as described in the next section (Davidson 16).
In publishing industry, the value chain complex and consists of several layers. Labor within a publishing house is generally divided into five areas: (1) editorial, (2) art, (3) production, (4) marketing and advertising, and (5) management and financial. Editorial tasks encompass the full range of manuscript handling and responsibility for the content of the text. Job titles and tasks within editing vary with the individual house. Generally, editorial assistants accumulate at the bottom of the job structure, followed by a scale of editors ranging in seniority from assistant, associate, editor, and senior editor through to executive or managing editor (Davidson 19).
Depending on the size and type of house, the production department either schedules the work of outside jobbers or coordinates and supervises an in- house department. The production department typesets the book from the marked manuscript. Today typesetters do not touch cold type but instead key in instructions on a type-writer-like keyboard. Sophisticated machines either photocompose or generate the text digitally. The output of these machines resembles the finished typeset page, but on photosensitive paper, and with or without page formatting, depending on the complexity of the typesetting machinery.
The production department next generates a first copy, called either a proof or a galley. An editorial staff member may read the output against the now-called “dead” copy of the corrected manuscript, and the house sends the proof to the writer for final approval. The final, corrected proof forms the basis for printing, in most cases done by an outside jobber. The workers in the printing plant transfer a photographic image of the proof to a grain metal plate (or for most paperback production, a continuous plastic plate) (Applegate et al 29).
The vast majority of modern printers use offset lithography in one form or another to produce the printed sheets. Either the department or a bindery cuts and binds the sheets into a finished book. The books are then stored, ready for dispatching by a shipping department or wholesaler (Davidson 24).
Most publishers have marketing departments responsible for advertising, publicity, and sales. Depending on the house, this department may influence editorial and design decisions. But just as commonly, marketing personnel do not become involved until the first printing is completed; only then do they face the challenge of making sure the book sells to whatever audience by whatever means. Marketing departments favor advertising and publicity to reach potential buyers. Printed advertisements, in the form of brochures or space ads in literary or professional periodicals, subtly shape readers’ expectations of the book and its meaning (Davidson 21).
The task of stimulating sales falls to staff whose specific tasks and titles vary among houses. These departments usually contain several levels of sales representatives and managers, who in one form or another try to market books directly to purchasers or to vendors. A publicity subdepartment (few small houses have these) may arrange for public appearances of authors, send out books for review, or try to generate media interest in other ways. The complex subdivision of advertising includes specializations such as advertising director, promotion manager, copy chief, art director, copy and design supervisors, copy writers and designers, ad space writers, and various types of assistants (Davidson 23).
Because the personal style of most publishing houses held sway well into the twentieth century, separate managerial and financial departments developed slowly. Eventually, some staff members specialized in examining the long-run performance and objectives of the house with an eye to increasing scale and ever-maximized profits. This long view implied a concern not only for the bottom line but for efficiency and viability within selected markets (Davidson 29).
As larger houses have expanded and often merged with large communications corporations, management and financial departments have increased their independence from the other divisions of the house. Trade publishers are responsible for most of the books that stock the shelves of local consumer-oriented bookstores. Their products range form novels to cookbooks. Trade publishers often diversify their lists with sure-fire sellers, books destined to find a small but relatively certain market as well (Applegate et al 70).
Technology in Publishing Industry
For publishing industry, technological advances have provided a broad base for developing a wide variety of information systems. Such systems currently range from relatively simple and straightforward information reporting systems to complex, high-level advisory structures, such as expert systems, decision support systems, hypertext documents, and interactive tutorials (Applegate et al 25). The common factor among all such systems is that they are structured around large, complex databases that provide support for the performance of human cognitive activities. When designers develop any of these complex information systems, they must identify
- the information content of the system,
- the representational format of the information within the system, and
- the means by which the user will access the information (Cummings 44).
In publishing industry, an information system consists of an arrangement of technical and social elements that form a single entity. and that achieves the goals of creating, transforming, and disseminating information. It can refer to transaction-based reporting systems, decision support systems, database management systems, office automation systems, expert systems, as well as other types of information delivery systems.
Hardware and software operate in a context that is defined within a social system. Therefore, the designers of information systems must have both organizational and technical responsibilities (Cummings 49). They must consider the decision making and information flow within an organization. They must understand the context and goals in which the organization, groups, and individuals work. Designing software that really meets users’ needs increasingly requires early and continuing involvement with users, and implies a process of iterative refinement of design and implementation throughout the development cycle.
In publishing industry, the process of database development includes the development of a logical representation, translation of the logical representation into a physical representation, and implementation of the physical representation. This research aims at clarifying the process by which the analyst develops a logical model, in this case, a data-flow diagram. In publishing industry, structured queries are used to elicit information from relational databases (Cummings 47).
Traditional relational databases consist of objects and specified relations between these objects. For example, users of relational databases may perceive the data as being in tabular form. Users are able to manipulate the data and query the database by using operators that create new tables from the old ones. One command may be used to pull out a subset of rows from a particular table, whereas another operator may pull out a subset of the columns (Carr 23).
A special place is occupied by digital content databases. That is, the answer should include most, if not all, of the information in the database that is relevant to the question. The system should have a low incidence of false alarms (i.e., irrelevant answers) and errors (i.e., incorrect answers). Sometimes several answers are produced in response to a question, that is, a cogent explanation in answer to a “why” question. A complex response should be coherent in the sense that the ideas hang together conceptually (Carr 51). A system should minimize the response time to answer a question. It is very difficult to design a system that satisfies all of these criteria.
The format of the database is a critical consideration in the design of information systems. Unstructured text is the easiest database format to implement because it is simply a copy of the information content under consideration (e.g., a copy of an encyclopedia article). Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult (if not impossible) to access relevant information and to compose cogent answers to most questions when the database is unstructured. For this reason, unstructured databases are essentially never used in intelligent tutoring systems, expert systems, and intelligent decision support systems (Carr 59).
At the other end of the continuum, structured databases impose organization on the information. That is, the information is segmented into theoretical units (e.g., words, propositions, statements, rules), sets of units are grouped into “packages” of information (i.e., higher order units), and units are connected by relations. It is possible to access relevant information and to formulate coherent answers when the database is structured. However, substantial effort must be devoted to organizing the knowledge in a special way that makes it easy to retrieve during question answering (Applegate et al 55).
Harper Collins is a British company founded in 1919. Since that time, the company has changed its production methods and communication technologies in order to meet changing environments and consumers’ demands. Today Harper Collins disseminates information alongside various electronic and other print media, but given its historical role in publishing industry development, Harper Collins influences the overall structure and socio-cultural context of all publishing. At the center of that influence lies the dual nature (material versus ideational) of information dissemination in a society: the marketing of knowledge (Harper Collins. 2008).
Harper Collins databases are structured in a fashion that supports rapid, intelligent, and knowledge-intensive retrieval. Rather than being constructed from a set of rows and columns, these databases are structured according to the types of information they contain. For example, information includes taxonomic, causal, descriptive, or goal-oriented knowledge. Each of these types of knowledge is structured in a different way and does not assume the traditional tabular form.
By identifying the customers on their database who have the most similar tastes, they are then able to offer suggestions about other authors and books you might enjoy. Not only that, but they couple this to an e-mail messaging system that informs a customer when a new book has been published by an author whom you like. In this case, they are clearly adding a new opportunity to the existing shopping experience, enabling you to access the views of people with similar tastes and interests. They are, in effect, automating the word‐ of-mouth experiences that so many of us rely on when we buy something (Harper Collins. 2008).
They are supplementing their existing promotions with perhaps the most powerful sales message of all — the opinions of people who think in a similar fashion. The exchange of information takes place in the virtual domain without the requirement of a physical presence — all the co‐ operatives have to do is find a cost-effective method of distribution. It illustrates that it is possible to provide home deliveries of relatively low-cost but still bulky items. Information technology will supersede the communication of information through geographically dispersed agents or middle men. However, it is unlikely that simply by replacing your existing channel to market with a new virtual one will you achieve any real or sustainable competitive advantage (Harper Collins. 2008).
The data-flow symbol is an arrow showing the flow of data. The process symbol is a rounded box depicting processes that transform the data. The data store symbol is an open rectangle showing where the data is stored. The external entity symbol is a rectangle that indicates the sources or destinations of the data. Virtualization is achieved by application of new technologies and innovative solutions which help Harper Collins to compete on the global scale and propose unique products and exceptional services.
Applegate, Lynda, Robert D. Austin, and F. Warren McFarlan. Corporate Information Strategy and Management, Sixth ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2003.
Carr, N. G. Does IT Matter? Information Technology and the Corrosion of Competitive Advantage. Harvard Business School Press; 1 edition, 2004.
Cummings, Stephen, and David Wilson (eds). Images of Strategy, Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA, 2003.
Davidson Cathy N. Revolution and the word: The rise of the novel in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Harper Collins. 2008.