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Commentary & Analysis

Ingram Reorganization: A Sign of the Times

Following David Dodd&

By Cary Sherburne
Published: May 29, 2009

Following David Dodd’s posting on Print CEO about the Ingram reorganization, I was able to catch up with Lightning Source President David Taylor at BookExpo America in New York to gain a little more insight into the company’s move.

First, as a background update, Taylor told me that Lightning Source now has just over 8,000 publishers as customers, is printing about 1.4 million books per month across its three plants (Tennessee, Pennsylvania and the UK), and has printed over 70 million books since the company was started.  The average run length is still at about 1.8, although Lightning Source does longer runs as well.

These data are really amazing. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the company hit the 10 million mark, and when I spoke with Taylor in December of last year, the run rate was about 1.3 million books per month.  This really demonstrates a huge shift in the adoption of print on demand by publishers.  The e-book market is also heating up for Ingram. Taylor says, “The level of interest depends on the particular segment of publishing.  There has been a real uplift in interest among trade publishers with products like Amazon’s Kindle coming on the market.  The academic sector is further ahead.  Regardless of segment, it is now generally accepted among publishers that this is not a simple replacement technology for print.  The smarter publishers are realizing that they need to do both print and electronic, offering customers lots of ways to access content rather than being prescriptive.  Our view is that we want to enable the publisher to offer content in many different formats, whether it be a physical book, an ebook or tools that allow them to make electronic books available to library customers in a networked environment.  It is not an either/or situation.”

This is the concept behind the Ingram restructuring.  According to Taylor, Ingram services three primary markets:  publishers, libraries and book sellers.  He says, “We have an enormous range of tools and services for these market segments, and we have added many bits and pieces over the years.  It might not be as clear as we would like what the full range of services is and what parts of Ingram offer which services.  This restructuring will change the way we interface with our customers.”

While Ingram is not ready to make specific announcements beyond top-level management at this time, the new organization, Ingram Content Group, will ultimately provide a single point of contact for publishers, libraries and book sellers to better enable them to take advantage of the full range of services. Taylor adds, “There is still a lot of detail to fill in behind this, and this is a process we will go through over the next weeks and months.  This is a statement of intent to form one Ingram Content Group rather than the multiple organizations we had in the past.  If we have to spend one-tenth of a minute explaining how we are organized, that tells us something needs to change.”

Skip Prichard, who was President and CEO of Ingram Lightning Group, will be President and CEO of Ingram Content Group; and Frank Daniels, who was the Chief Commercial Officer, will be leaving Ingram in July.  Ingram is not announcing any other personnel changes at this time.

This restructuring places Ingram in an ideal position to counsel publishers, libraries and book sellers about the best technologies and methodologies across the entire book life cycle and the book supply chain to make both more efficient.  It also will make it easier for publishers, book sellers and libraries to serve up content through multiple channels in line with today’s market demand.

The biggest challenge for Ingram is likely to be in the sales organization, since it appears that the future vision will be one sales contact that can represent the entire product line in a customer-focused, rather than product-focused, environment.  Regardless of the industry, this can be a difficult transition.  But it sounds like Ingram is implementing the required changes in a measured manner that is likely to deliver good results. If implemented properly, it should even accelerate adoption among publishers of print on demand and ebook technologies.

Cary Sherburne is a well-known author, journalist and marketing consultant whose practice is focused on marketing communications strategies for the printing and publishing industries.

Cary Sherburne is available for speaking engagements and consulting projects. To get more information contact us.

Please offer your feedback to Cary. She can be reached at cary@whattheythink.com.



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