The publishing chain is both a supply chain and a value chain. It is a supply chain in the sense that it provides a series of organizational links by means of which a specific product – the book – is gradually produced and transmitted via distributors and retailers to an end user who purchases it. Figure 6.1 offers a simple visual representation of the book supply chain. The basic steps in the book supply chain are as follows. The author creates the content and supplies it to the publisher; in trade publishing this process is typically mediated by the agent, who acts as a filter selecting material and directing it to appropriate publishers. The publisher buys a bundle of rights from the agent and then carries out a range of functions – reading, editing, etc. – before delivering the final text or file to the printer, who prints and binds the books and delivers them to the distributor, which may be owned by the publisher or may be a third party. The distributor warehouses the stock and fulfils orders from both retailers and wholesalers, who in turn sell books to or fulfil orders from others – individual consumers in the case of retailers, and retailers and other institutions (such as libraries) in the case of wholesalers. The publisher’s customers are not individual consumers or libraries but rather intermediary institutions in the supply chain – namely, the wholesalers and retailers. For most readers, the only point of contact they have with the book supply chain is when they walk into a bookstore to browse or buy a book, or when they browse the details of a book online, or when they check out a book from a library. For the most part they have no direct contact with publishers and know very little about them; their primary interest is in the book and the author, not in the publisher.
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- Merchants of Culture
John B. Thompson
- Macmillan Education UK
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