Q1. I have had trouble getting e-book versions of traditional textbooks from major publishers, but they will sell the e-version directly to students. How can we overcome this?
A. Are you talking directly to publishers for individual titles? That could be a challenge. Have you considered working with CourseSmart or a similar company who has the content? Or are you working with your POS provider and their program for e-books? The question has some gaps in it, making it a little difficult to fully answer. In general though, if the major publisher has the digital title being offered directly to students, the content is most likely available through other channels as well to which you may have access (e.g., your POS provider or CourseSmart), so at this point I would probably start there. Publishers are unlikely to serve up great volumes of digital content directly to stores because most stores are not equipped to directly handle the files and their security, and because if publishers did this for all titles across all campuses, it would quickly become somewhat unweildy. The best way for us to overcome this is to work as a channel to define common points of aggregation and common standards for accessing and managing the files. Our (NMS's) efforts with other groups (e.g., CCRA [Canada] and ICBA) is one example of an industry or channel-based initiative to address parts of this challenge. We refer to this initiative as DCP or Digital Content Platform.
Q2. Some publishers still take 6-8 weeks for POD titles. Can we/you influence them to decrease this time period?
A. By POD titles, I am assuming you mean custom titles -- or do you mean access to titles that you can use for in-store POD? Regardless, we (NMS) do have an initiative in this area which we hope will help to decrease some of the supply chain delays and inefficiencies. We are testing this out in an alpha phase currently, and plan to launch a set of defined pilots this summer as part of the beta phase. Assuming all works well with our initial test and the summer pilots, we plan to begin expanding our tests in Fall 2011 and widen the offering to more stores starting in 2012.
Q3. What or how is NMS working with publishers relating to platforms?
A. Well, the answer to that lies in the answers to the two questions above. We have several projects or efforts underway or being investigated. Our two main areas of interest are the digital content platform (DCP) and regional print-on-demand (R-POD). As these initiatives begin to move from pilot to production this year we will be providing stores with more information. The point is that we are working with publishers on content initiatives that cover both print and digital technologies.