November 2019 BIC BREAKFAST

Stronger Together: Acquisitions & Divestments in the Book Industry

Thursday 21st November 2019, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:   

Acquisitions and divestments are processes by which the ownership of an organisation or an organisation’s assets are transferred or consolidated with that of another organisation. These processes allow organisations to change the nature of their business, often to try and obtain competitive advantage or maximise the value of the acquiring organisation.

Following the publication of BIC’s Acquisitions & Divestments Best Practice Guidelines documents for both digital and physical products, this BIC Breakfast sought to demystify the acquisitions and divestments process, providing an overview of the organisation types involved and their respective responsibilities; the steps that should be taken to execute a successful acquisition / divestment; common pitfalls experienced by organisations; and where to look for further information.

We heard from representatives of a publisher, a data aggregator and a distributor, all of whom have manoeuvred recent acquisitions / divestments, to learn from their experiences. These organisations participated on to the BIC Acquisitions & Divestments project and contributed to the BIC Best Practice Guidelines documents referenced above.

Who should attend?
This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers, booksellers, distributors, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more. It will be relevant to individuals involved in the acquisition / divestment of digital products (i.e. eBooks, downloadable audiobooks, etc.) and/or physical products (including print books and digital files associated with physical products).

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett

Our speakers included: David Seymour, Data Protection Manager, Taylor & Francis; Matthew Hogg, Commercial Director, Macmillan Distribution (MDL); and Stephen Long, Global Managing Director – Book Discovery and Commerce, Nielsen Book.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Acquisitions & Divestments in the Book Industry

October 2019 BIC BREAKFAST

Listen Up! Understanding the Digital Audiobook Supply Chain

Wednesday 9th October 2019, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by: 

Since 2014 there has been a steady increase in digital and physical audiobook purchases. In 2018, Nielsen Book reported that audiobook purchases have increased 12% year-on-year (as of 2014), with 37% of consumers subscribing to an audiobook service and 65% choosing to listen to audiobooks on their smartphones*. Yet, despite audiobooks’ growing popularity, the audiobook supply chain remains somewhat unclear to many within the book industry. How exactly are audiobooks produced; which organisations are involved in the supply chain; what standards exist to facilitate their creation and distribution; how do audiobooks reach the end-consumer; and what does the end-consumer / platform want to know about the product? 

This BIC Breakfast took its attendees on a journey through the digital audiobook supply chain, from file creation through to the end-consumer. We heard from Elizabeth Campbell of Pan Macmillan, Simon Pallant of Gardners, Paul Bradley of W.F. Howes and Nick Coveney of Rakuten Kobo who each provided an overview of the practices and pain-points relating to audiobooks for their respective organisation types. We also heard from J. Alan Bird of W3C who discussed the need for standardisation in this area, how BIC can help and what the future holds for audiobooks.

Delivering an Insight into the World of Audiobooks by Stephen Long, Nielsen Book

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers, booksellers, audiobook platforms / vendors, distributors and intermediaries, audiobook production teams, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more. 

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett

Our speakers included: Elizabeth Campbell, Digital Operations Controller, Pan Macmillan;  Simon Pallant, Digital & Data Services Manager, Gardners; Paul Bradley, IT Project Manager, W.F. Howes; Nick Coveney, Publisher Relations & Content Lead, UK & ANZ, Rakuten Kobo; and J. Alan Bird, Global Business Development Leader, W3C.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Understanding the Digital Audiobook Supply Chain

September 2019 BIC BREAKFAST

Reach Out: Achieving Discoverability for Diverse & Inclusive Books

Thursday 26th September 2019, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by: 

According to statistics compiled by The Bookseller*, of the thousands of titles published in 2016 in the UK, fewer than 100 books were written by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) authors. Again, in the UK in 2017, The BookTrust reported that fewer than 6% of children’s authors and illustrators were from BAME backgrounds and that white children’s books creators had around twice as many books published compared to those of colour.** 

Covering ethnicity, gender, sexuality, social mobility and disability, this BIC Breakfast explores how the book industry can take steps to improve discoverability for diverse and inclusive books. Those who attended this session learnt about the ways in which the industry is beginning to embrace and nurture diverse and inclusive authors, audiences and books, and how to facilitate their discoverability.

We heard from Andrew Isabirye about Penguin Random House’s Diversity Working Group and how its work has led to the updating of Thema – the internal subject classification scheme – for diversity and inclusion; Chris Saynor of EDItEUR explained how Thema can help publishers and booksellers to find the right audience for their book; and Meera Ghanshamdas of Moon Lane Ink CIC provided an overview of what booksellers can do to promote diverse and inclusive books, and the information they require from publishers in order to do so. 

Publishing seeks to address industry’s lack of diversity 
** Less than 2% of published authors and illustrators in the UK are British people of colour says new BookTrust research  

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers, booksellers, data aggregators, authors and others. 

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett

Our speakers included: Andrew Isabirye, Data Scientist, Penguin Random House; Chris Saynor, Standards Editor, EDItEUR; and Meera Ghanshamdas, Manager, Moon Lane Ink CIC.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Achieving Discoverability for Diverse & Inclusive Books


Towards a Greener Book Industry

Thursday 15th August 2019, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

Increasingly, global book industry standards – such as ONIX and Thema – are being adopted worldwide with a view to bettering international communications, discoverability, and increasing sales. But what does this mean for the book industry’s supply chain? What is the scale of our industry’s carbon footprint and its consumption of plastic? How can your organisation increase its sustainability whilst reducing its overall environmental impact? And what does the future hold? This BIC Breakfast explored these questions.

We heard from Carly Griggs and Nick Sammons of Carnstone’s Book Chain Project, who provided an overview of the book industry’s green issues and what is being done to address them; Neil Springall of Penguin Random House Distribution gave an update on the measures being taken by distributors to reduce plastic within the industry as well as organisations’ responsibilities to order and carry out returns responsibly; and Dave Thompson of Publiship provided an overview of the forthcoming IMO2020 green initiative which will be introduced by the shipping industry next year, with a view to explaining how it will affect organisations throughout the book industry supply chain. 

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers, booksellers, distributors, freight forwarders, production teams, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more. 

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC 

Our speakers included: Carly Griggs, Partner, Carnstone Partners LLP; Nick Sammons, Partner, Carnstone Partners LLP; Neil Springall, Head of Operations, Penguin Random House Distribution; and Dave Thompson, Group Sales & Development Director, Publiship.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Towards a Greener Book Industry

December 2018 BIC BREAKFAST 

Securing a Single Digital Presence in UK Public Libraries

Wednesday 12th December 2018, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

With funding from both Arts Council England (ACE) and Carnegie UK Trust, the British Library is leading a scoping study on the rationale for a ‘single digital presence’ for the UK’s public libraries. The project will investigate user expectations and demand for what a national online platform for public libraries might deliver and how this could reflect the best of what public libraries can offer. A key part of the study is to explore how this could promote public library use (including physical visits) as well as amplifying the impact and importance of libraries at local, national and international level. The development of a single digital presence of this kind was one of the key recommendations of William Sieghart’s 2014 Independent Library Report for England and the 2018 study builds on previous thinking by the Single Digital Libraries Presence Steering Group and a report by Bibliocommons, commissioned by the Society of Chief Librarians in 2015, plus a roundtable convened by Arts Council England and the Carnegie Trust UK in 2016.

This event was a great opportunity to find out more about this exciting project and its emerging recommendations, and to ask any questions that delegates had. You can find out more about the Single Digital Presence project here.

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to any organisations in the library sector, including libraries (Public as well as Academic), library stock suppliers, library systems suppliers, service providers and data aggregators. 

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC and Jack Tipping, Publisher Relations Manager, ProQuest Bowker 

Our speakers included: Liz White, Head of Strategy Development, British Library; Claire Robe, Relationship Manager, Libraries, London, Arts Council England; and Nick Poole, Chief Executive Officer, CILIP.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Securing a Single Digital Presence in UK Public Libraries

November 2018 BIC BREAKFAST 

The Secret Lifecycle of eBooks: Dispelling the Myths Surrounding eBook Maintenance & Looking at Retrospective Validation

Thursday 29th November 2018, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

It can sometimes be a misconception that eBooks require very little attention or maintenance after they are produced. Presumptions are often made that, once an eBook file is published, there ends the bulk of the workload (with the exception of the file’s distribution, of course). This BIC Breakfast demystified the lifecycle of an eBook and provided insight into the hidden workload and cost associated with ongoing eBook maintenance. It also explored what is meant by eBook maintenance. 

We discussed: the ways in which you can stay abreast of updates to the EPUB standard; the reconfigurations necessary when the EPUB standard is updated; how to ensure that an eBook file validates retrospectively / is backwards-compatible; the organisations involved in the lifecycle of an eBook and who makes the decisions regarding its maintenance at every stage; and what retailers accept in terms of metadata, standards and file formats for eBooks.

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers, booksellers, distributors, libraries, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: John Bell, Publishing Systems Manager, HarperCollins Publishers; Nick Coveney, Publisher Relations & Content Lead, Kobo UK; and Ruth Jones, Director Business Development, Ingram Content Group.

BIC Breakfast Slides – The Secret Lifecycle of eBooks

October 2018 BIC BREAKFAST 

The ISBN: Best Practice for International Book Identification

Wednesday 24th October 2018, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

Re-established in 2007 in its current 13-digit format, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique identifier for a product (including books, CDs, DVDs, gift sets, etc.) that is sold within the book industry supply chain. Because this standard is a staple of the supply chain and due to the ever-increasing number of products available internationally (which increases the challenges of achieving discoverability), best practice for ISBNs is of fundamental importance. 

This BIC Breakfast provided an overview of what constitutes good and bad practice in relation to ISBNs, including insight into the use of ISBNs from different regions, assigning ISBNs to chapters, and the reuse of ISBNs. We heard from Stella Griffiths, Executive Director of the International ISBN Agency, regarding why ISBNs matter and what the standard brings to the book industry; Eleanor Pigg, UK ISBN Agency explained the sales and support arrangements for ISBNs in the UK; Neil Wilson, Head of Collection Metadata at the British Library, provided insight into the impact of good and bad practice on the work that the British Library does and the services that libraries provide; and Kieron Smith of Blackwell’s explained how best practice can affect the discoverability and sales of a product for publishers and retailers alike.

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers (large and independent), booksellers, distributors, libraries, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Stella Griffiths, Executive Director, International ISBN Agency; Eleanor Pigg, Registration Services Manager, UK ISBN Agency; Neil Wilson, Head of Collection Metadata, British Library; and Kieron Smith, Digital Director, Blackwell’s.

BIC Breakfast Slides – The ISBN: Best Practice for International Book Identification

September 2018 BIC BREAKFAST 

Think You Know about Book Industry Returns? Think Again.

Thursday 27th September 2018, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

The book Industry Returns Initiative (IRI) is a cross-industry standard designed to reduce the cost of returns processing. Most organisations in the book industry now understand and accept the need for overstock returns and agree that the industry-wide “Rule Book” which has been implemented in computer systems across the industry, has been responsible for huge cost reductions in returns administration. This automation of returns authorisation combined with Batch Returns and other communication mechanisms enables booksellers to request permission to return books and receive a rapid response based on product metadata as sales history. 

In June 2018, BIC published an extensive revision of the IRI Rule Book* plus other accompanying documents including An Introduction to IRI for Booksellers, Distributors & Publishers* and a document detailing the Benefits of IRI*. Providing an update on the BIC IRI Review project and the lessons learnt, this BIC Breakfast demystified IRI, detailed the clarifications that have been made to the IRI Rule Book, explained the importance of the third message in facilitating the returns process, and demonstrated exactly what is meant by the 3-15 month returns window.

Our speakers informed delegates about the importance of adopting IRI. We heard from Colin James of Penguin Random House UK on the importance of IRI to publishers and distributors; Jonathan King of Batch provided an introduction to Batch Returns; and Vincent Bull of Waterstones and Alex Milne-White of Hungerford Bookshop explained the benefits of IRI for retailers and end-consumers alike. 

*Further information about IRI, as well as access to all the documentation produced by the BIC IRI Review Task & Finish Working Group, can be found on the BIC website, here.

This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers (traditional and independent), booksellers, distributors, data aggregators, systems vendors and many more.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Colin James, Penguin Random House Distrubution UK; Jonathan King, Batch Ltd; Vincent Bull, Waterstones; and Alex Milne-White, Hungerford Bookshop.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Think You Know about Book Industry Returns? Think Again.


The Unprecedented Rise of Audiobooks

Wednesday 25th July 2018, 9-10:30am

With audiobook sales having almost doubled over the past 5 years and audiobook purchases accounting for 5% of consumer book sales in the UK*, we agreed it was high time that BIC dedicated a BIC Breakfast session to this important format which is actively bringing fresh customers into the book market.  

This BIC Breakfast session provided an introduction to what is trending in audiobook publishing. We heard from Nicholas Jones, Strathmore Publishing, regarding the popularity of audiobooks (in their varying formats), how publishers can engage their target audience(s) and how they are innovating this field of publishing; Chris Saynor provided an update on the existing ONIX 3.0 fields that are available specifically for audiobooks and how to use them; and last but not least Miles Stevens-Hoare, W.F. Howes, provided an overview of retailers’ / libraries’ requirements for audiobooks in order to achieve a good level of discoverability and, ultimately, increase sales. 


This BIC Breakfast will be of interest to all publishers (including traditional, independent and, of course, audiobook publishers), booksellers, digital distributors, data aggregators, libraries and many more.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Nicholas Jones, Managing Director, Strathmore Publishing; Chris Saynor, Standards Editor, EDItEUR; and Miles Stevens-Hoare, General Manager, W.F. Howes.

BIC Breakfast Slides – The Unprecedented Rise of Audiobooks, July 2018


Creative Classification: Using Thema to Augment Your Metadata Beyond the Capabilities of BIC Codes

Wednesday 23rd May 2018, 9-10:30am

Sponsored by:  

With hundreds of thousands of books being published around the world every year, subject classification has a huge role to play in the discoverability of your products. This BIC Breakfast session aimed to inspire organisations to be more creative when classifying with Thema – the international book subject classification scheme – focusing on what organisations should consider (in terms of the functionality currently available in Thema) to ensure that their products reach their intended audience.

Thema is the only subject classification scheme used by the trade that allows organisations to combine Fiction codes with relevant Non-Fiction codes; this effectively allows the creation of thousands of detailed terms for describing specific types of Fiction books. This BIC Breakfast session informed delegates about the hugely expanded range of options for Fiction in Thema and much more. 

We heard from Howard Willows of Nielsen Book, Chris Saynor of EDItEUR and Kieron Smith of Blackwell’s, with a view to explaining why adopting Thema and/or disseminating Thema codes in 2018 is more relevant to your organisation than ever before. 

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Howard Willows, Senior Manager of Data Development, Nielsen Book; Chris Saynor, Standards Editor, EDItEUR; and Kieron Smith, Digital Director, Blackwell’s.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Creative Classification, May 2018


Acessible eBooks

Wednesday 25th April 2018, 9-10:30am

Approximately 10% of the world’s population have a disability*. For many, this is a ‘reading disability’, resulting in the inability to read the content of a book, or to hold a book and turn the pages. The book industry continues to innovate solutions to produce accessible publications which can be enjoyed by all. Providing an overview of eBook accessibility, this BIC Breakfast informed its attendees about what is involved in the production of accessible, digital products and what organisations should consider when producing them. It explained how to communicate your organisation’s products’ accessibility features to ensure that those with disabilities know that the product is suitable to their individual requirements and that retailers can communicate this information to everyone’s benefit.

We heard from Emma House, Deputy Chief Executive of The Publishers Association, regarding the reasons why ensuring the accessibility of digital products is so important, particularly in the academic publishing market; Chris Saynor, Standards Editor of EDItEUR, regarding ONIX Code List 196 for e-Publication Accessibility Details; and Richard Orme, Chief Executive Officer at the DAISY Consortium, regarding DAISY’s tools that enable organisations to validate their eBooks / EPUB files against internationally-recognised standards for accessibility.

This BIC Breakfast explained the fundamental importance of producing accessible, digital products. Publishers (of all types, but particularly educational and academic), self-publishers, digital distributors, data aggregators, libraries and many more benefitted from attending.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Emma House, Deputy Chief Executive, The Publishers Association; Richard Orme, Chief Executive Officer, DAISY Consortium; and Chris Saynor, Standards Editor, EDItEUR.

BIC Breakfast Slides – Accesible eBooks, April 2018


International Identification for Authors, Publishers & Imprints: Using the ISNI Standard to Improve Discoverability & Rights Management across a Range of Creative Industries

Wednesday 28th March 2018, 9-10:30am

International Standard Name Identifiers (ISNIs) facilitate the identification of millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution, including researchers, inventors, writers, artists, visual creators, performers, producers, publishers, data aggregators, and more. Assigning an ISNI can reliably prevent the problems caused when two contributors have the same name, and help to pinpoint each contributor’s respective works for correct attribution, rights management, and discoverability. 

The ISNI system holds public records for over 9.5 million identities around the world – consisting of 8.85 million individuals and a growing number (over 700,000, to date) of organisations* – demonstrating the level of adoption of the ISNI standard and its relevance to multiple industries (including the music and film industries). Aiming to encourage the adoption of ISNIs further within the UK book industry supply chain, this BIC Breakfast discussed the ongoing development and adoption of the ISNI standard, providing updates on ISNIs for authors, publishers and imprints, the creation of a registry of ISNIs for organisations, and plans for ISNI metadata in Linked Data format. 

We heard from Graham Bell, Executive Director of EDItEUR (who was kindly spoke on behalf of Tim Devenport, Executive Director of the ISNI International Agency), Andrew MacEwan of the British Library and Héloïse Lecomte of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. In particular, Héloïse provided insight into the Bibliothèque Nationale de France’s current ISNI initiative with Hachette and other French publishers, explaining why organisations should assign ISNIs to ensure the discoverability of their products. indicates that this figure currently stands at 708,298 organisations (January 2018).

This BIC Breakfast explained why the development of the ISNI standard is as timely as it is necessary for the whole of the book industry supply chain and beyond – as such publishers, self-publishers, data aggregators, distributors, libraries and many more benefited from attending.

Hosted by: Alaina-Marie Bassett, Business Manager, BIC

Our speakers included: Graham Bell, Executive Director, EDItEUR (speaking on behalf of Tim Devenport, Executive Director, ISNI International Agency), Héloïse Lecomte, Deputy Head of Authority Control, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, and Andrew MacEwan, Head of Content & Metadata Processing, The British Library.

BIC Breakfast Slides – International Identification using ISNIs, March 2018

A word about our sponsors…

The Accessible Digital Documents Company has specialised in PDF accessibility since 2003 and in eBook accessibility since 2012. We offer a range of document remediation and testing services, including auditing, image description, ARIA and accessibility metadata. We also offer in-depth training in accessible PDF and eBook production.

Batch is the secure electronic payments and information system that was specifically designed by The Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland (BA) to save booksellers time and money. 

Users can see all their invoices, credit and delivery notes online and print copies as needed. They can also make claims online, creating a permanent record that is visible to retailers and their suppliers. Batch can provide free EDI feeds for integration into stock control systems and other accounts packages. 

Batch Returns takes the strain out of the process. Instead of waiting for a publisher’s rep to authorise returns, booksellers send a list electronically and get an answer within hours. The returns messages, just like everything that Batch does, can be provided in different electronic formats. All our services are free to BA members.

Bowker is the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information management solutions designed to help publishers, booksellers, and libraries better serve their customers. The company is focused on developing various tools and products that make books easier for people to discover, evaluate, order, and experience. Bowker, the US ISBN agency, manages UK bibliographic data and delivers a comprehensive UK data source to book information researchers and buyers.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world’s greatest research libraries. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library’s collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilisation and includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages.

Nielsen Book is the leading information and research company in the book industry.  Its portfolio includes: business Intelligence, consumer research, discovery and commerce solutions. Nielsen Book provides unique identifiers; comprehensive, enriched bibliographic data; integrated services for book selection, electronic ordering and business messaging; it measures and analyses print and digital book sales and provides consumer research on purchasing behaviour and collects library borrowing data for UK public libraries.

Penguin Random House UK is the UK’s largest book publisher. We champion brilliant voices from around the globe, bringing them to life in compelling and dynamic ways for audiences everywhere. From bestselling writers to new voices, bold illustrators and big thinkers, we are home to some of the world’s most celebrated authors. We sell and license books in over 120 countries; connecting millions of people around the world with the greatest stories, the smartest thinking and the best ideas.

At Publiship, we are passionate about shipping books and have been doing so for over 30 years. We specialise in freight forwarding for publishers and printers, with a global network of 14 offices, strategically located in main printing and publishing centres around the world.

By providing a personal approach through experienced and dedicated staff, Publiship sets the benchmark for our competitors to aspire to. It’s in our name; You Publish, We Ship.

The mission of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is to lead the Web to its full potential by creating technical standards and guidelines to ensure that the Web remains open, accessible, and interoperable for everyone around the globe. W3C standards HTML5 and CSS are the foundational technologies upon which all Web sites are built. For its work to make online videos more accessible with captions and subtitles, W3C received a 2016 Emmy Award. And for its work to standardize a Full TV Experience on the Web, W3C received a 2019 Emmy Award.

W3C’s vision for “One Web” brings together thousands of dedicated technologists representing more than 400 member organizations and dozens of industry sectors. Organizationally, W3C is jointly run by the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL) in the United States, the European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics (ERCIM) headquartered in France, Keio University in Japan and Beihang University in China. For more information see

Westchester Publishing Services (PRNewsFoto/Westchester Publishing Services)

Westchester provides editorial, composition, design, digital production, and project management services to more than 120 trade, academic, educational, childrens’ and specialist publishers in the US and UK. We deliver an efficient and cost-effective outsourced pre-press solution, with each of our clients benefitting from a dedicated Westchester team to support their individual needs. We’ve been trading for fifty years and we’re employee-owned. We’ve just opened our new UK office in Stratford-upon-Avon, with our Head Office in Connecticut, and wholly-owned operations in India.