Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Digital Rep 10 Years On

We read with great interest of the presentation by Jesse Kroger, from Boekhandels Group in the Netherlands, at the 31st APSBG (Academic and Specialist Booksellers Group) and that it had raised some controversy with his contention that the trade in the 21st Century required an e-rep rather than a real rep.

Boekhandels' plan ‘an-up-to-date customised database from publisher supplied information’ which would lead to better informed buying less retail distraction and what could be viewed as a digital rep.

Some ten years ago, April 1999 we wrote an article for the trade journal Publishing News entitled, ‘Tea and Biscuits and a cosy chat’. Times have changed significantly in the last ten years and it was written with a trade perspective, but it was interesting to revisit it.

An extract from the article:

The information doesn't change, just the perspective. In order to satisfy the representatives' and booksellers' needs, additional new information and functions will be required. But it's not rocket science!

Some bookshops could get an electronic, 'my representative" service. The stores would even profile themselves and ensure that they can be proactively made aware of any relevant new information. Today a number of publishers regularly fax stores with what some would regard junk mail. Surely, it would be more productive to target those booksellers that want information with the information they want, when they want it and in a standard format that can be easily reviewed and acted upon.

Publishers must recognise that a good representative is a good representative. All the systems and information available can't replace their enthusiasm and transform a bad representative. Information that is targeted and delivered proactively can make a difference, but information that is sprayed across the market may be ineffective and uneconomic.

And don't forget, all representatives, telesales and customer service staff go home at five. On the Internet, the publisher's information and service stays out all night and can be accessed at any time from anywhere. Tea and biscuits no longer required!

It is interesting that some ten years later the logic is the same and the resistance is still there albeit waning.

No comments: