Friday, February 02, 2007


My thoughts and best wishes go out to a proud new father and his new born baby. I can see him rushing frantically around the room at those pivotal moments. The birth is meet with a roar before it is drowned by the popping of corks. The baby is Bookstore the father is that charismatic Richard Charkin.

Innovation has always been high on the Macmillan / Holtsbrink agenda and under Richard it is hardly going to change. The MP3 audio is due around LBF and although it probably is not the answer it will certainly be a wake up call for all. While many sit and wait for Audible /iTunes to play, or the murky waters of DRM to become clearer, Macmillan have once again boldly stepped forward.

This week’s launch of Bookstore may again not be the answer. After all there are many alternatives in this space already. But it demonstrates a commitment towards certain principles that are being adopted by many of the leading publishers. It is unclear whether its primary focus is publishers, retailers or consumers. It offers publishers a digital storefront but does not include physical titles or combined baskets and assumes a direct channel and brand recognition. It offers the retailer a white label store but with limited stock aggregation. It has to be found and valued by consumers. However, these are common issues in this space today and MPS’s work within the German marketplace, which we covered in “Brave New World”, certainly shows potential ways forward on some of these issues. Macmillan have also announced a pilot with their own bookstore, Pan Bookshop. It will be very interesting to see how the Chelsea set react and how this can be applied to a wider set of retailers.

The key now is how all the various digital silos will be linked to provide a digital distribution infrastructure similar to that which services the physical book on the Internet. Standardised persistent linkage and ‘drop ship’ business processes are the obvious next steps.

Meanwhile congratulations once again to MPS and I hope Richard gets some restful nights in the weeks to come.