Thursday, October 11, 2007

Frankfurt Supply Chain Meeting: MVB Content Warehouse

I attended the 29th Frankfurt Supply Chain meeting this week and from a jet-lagged audience I report on a few of the presentations. The room was typically full of vendors, publishers, data suppliers, software providers and consultants. There was a disappointing number of questions and follow-on discussion with all the presentations and I am unsure of the reason for this. Perhaps most disappointing was that the promised drinks cart failed to arrive at the end of the day - not as it turns out, the responsibility of the conference organizers.

Roland Schild: The Changing Landscape of the Book World.
Schild is the director of the German publishers and booksellers organization (MVB) has took over management of their book digitization program when he joined MVB from The digitization program was originally announced at Frankfurt 2005 and is based on the Macmillan Bookstore platform. In presenting their project, Schild noted that they are announcing a name change to Libreka. The launch of the site is going to be somewhat limited with "purely search" only until added features such as purchasing are added sometime in 2008. The focus of the site is on titles "with economic value" that is those titles in German Books In Print. (MVB is the publisher of German books in print). Schild noted they have three objectives in supporting both publishers and booksellers with this initiative:
  1. Maximize reach to the publishers target audience with two 'aspects': Firstly in a quantitative manner in driving traffic where the publisher is less concerned with a targeted approach: A Dan Brown novel where they just want mass exposure. Secondly, a targeted approach where the book content may appeal to a narrow audience such as 'rose gardeners'. The product will enable both models
  2. Beginning in the first quarter 2008, they will become an 'open sales channel for booksellers and publishers' offering new content and content models for sale.
  3. They intend (must) operate in a 'copyright friendly' way and adhere to all copyright requirements.

It remains to be seen whether Schild and his team will be able to build what he described as a 'European Digital Library' especially in competition with the likes of Google and Yahoo and even some specific library programs. Nevertheless, MVB has been seeking the support of 'GYM' (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft), libraries, publishers and others to make them aware of the program and to ensure that their content is included in search results. That seems rather obvious but the biggest challenge will be to establish a relevant content warehouse will all digital content that is a real destination. Assuming digital content is searched via GYM how MVB will draw traffic to their site will be a big challenge. Of note, Springer which is a Google Library client was not mentioned as an MVB participant and if the case represents a significant hole in MVB's digital content repository.

Schild mentioned that they would like to use the ACAP content access protocol which will allow the MVB content to be indexed but will enable traffic to be referred back to the MVB site where various content access parameters are in place according to publisher preference. Their approach is similar to the Microsoft Live Book search approach.

It was interesting to hear about the production issues they faced in this project but there were two strange things: Firstly, Schild announced they were rebranding the product but didn't show us the brand and Secondly, most importantly there were no screen shots or a demo...

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