2012 Pre-Meeting Workshop: Managing Print Inventory in a Digital World

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How do we manage inventory in an era in which a lifetime print run is no longer the norm, and is even inadvisable? In this half-day workshop, participants will exchange information and statistics related to what is certainly one of the most pressing questions facing scholarly publishers today.


The question of inventory is no longer under the purview of a single department, and how inventory is managed directly and significantly affects not only cash flow but sales, editorial decisions, printing, and reprint procedures. Panelists from business, sales, marketing, production, and editorial will discuss the ways in which inventory models are changing and how these new models shape the work of their individual department—and the workflow, activities, and financial health of the press as a whole.


Questions to be addressed include:

• What are the best models for inventory? Do you stock for a finite period of time or use just-in-time printing?

• Who makes the ultimate decisions on printing and reprinting, and what information and considerations feed these decisions?

• How do digital printing and POD technologies factor into these decisions?

• With multiple print and electronic editions housed with different vendors, how do you practice version control and handle editorial changes?

• How do you project demand for a title at a time when e-books and library patron-driven purchasing programs often lead to low pre-publication backorders and unpredictable post-publication performance?

• How do you adjust pricing to factor in a method of inventory management that may lead to higher unit costs? When does higher unit cost no longer matter?

• How is management of frontlist inventory different from management of backlist inventory?

• How do you work with distribution partners to manage inventory in the most effective way?

• How do you reduce overstock inventory: pulping vs. remaindering?

• Will there be no need to manage inventory in the future (thanks to POD and EDI)?


Inventory issues are cross-departmental, and the following department-specific questions will also be addressed.

• Acquisitions: how do you talk to authors about these changes and what it means for their books, and what is your advocacy role ?

• Marketing: how do you ensure an adequate inventory to meet demand during sales spikes and author events, and how do you recommend print runs when a title may be enrolled or automatically supplied by multiple vendors?

• Production: how do you incorporate many more reprint jobs into your workflow, and how do you handle the fact that multiple vendors may print the same title?

• Administration: How do you revamp your P&L to reflect new inventory models? How do you account for the costs of subsequent printings or POD: through COGS or other methods? When writing down inventory, when are you in danger of overvaluing inventory on your balance sheet?



Organizer: Leila W. Salisbury, Director, University Press of Mississippi

Panelists: Fred Nachbaur, Director, Fordham University Press

Jennifer Norton, Assistant Director/Design & Production Manager, Penn State Press

Joe Peterson, Sales and Inventory Associate, University of Chicago Press

Rebecca Schrader, Associate Director and Director of Finance and Operations, MIT Press



Please feel free to add notes or responses to the session in this section. You can also post presentation files--find out how.




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