Thursday, December 21, 2006

Ingram's Digital Venture Moves Forward

Ingrams announced take over of Coutts is further demonstration of their digital intent. It comes on the back of Kent Freeman’s impressive presentation at Frankfurt Book Fair’s ‘Supply Chain Specialists’ meeting where he outlined their digital architecture and the thinking behind Ingram Digital Ventures. It also follows on the footsteps of their acquisition of Vital Source Technologies and their ‘Bookshelf’ platform and also their announcement of the tie with Booksense to supply ebooks.

Why are these moves important and why are they investing heavily in a market that is still yet to be established?

One can think back to when they started Lightning Source and their Print on Demand service. Everyone knew about POD everyone saw its potential but no one moved. It was if the industry stuck its head in the sand and acknowledged there was a better way of dealing with back orders, short print runs and the long tail but all wanted someone to deal with it. Ingram stood up and moved. They may not have been the first, they certainly weren’t the last but they were the first to capture the potential and boldly move forward.

Today one can think of ebooks the same way. We all appreciate the potential of ebooks but are waiting for the market to appear to justify the investment. What Ingram are clearly showing is their intent to position itself to be a wholesaler and digital distributor of digital content, be it ebooks, POD or whatever. They also are seizing the imitative in not just their trade market but now recognising the strength of players such as Coutts and stretching their services across the total market. In Coutts they are acquiring a global player who operates in 100 countries and with first class credentials to service academic and professional libraries throughout North America. Their MyiLibrary e-book hosting platform offers access to the world's leading digital content collections. It is used by academics, researchers and professionals as a reference tool for all businesses and institutions looking to provide their users with access to the most current digital content available today. Librarians use MyiLibrary to build multi-publisher collections of titles in the same way they have done with print publications.

Importantly those of us who heard Kent Freeman speak in Frankfurt understand the route Ingram are taking and the strategic position they are building to be at the centre of the digital fulfillment.

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