Industry Award Winners Again!

We have been the proud holders of an ‘Excellence Plus’ Product Data Excellence Award from the Book Industry Communication (BIC) for a few years now (and there are a few previous posts about our journey elsewhere on our blog!). While they may not be the most glamorous of awards to win, and are marked by a certificate arriving in the post, rather than an Oscar’s style ceremony, they are still very important. In short, they are the book industry’s way of certifying that we provide all the ‘behind the scenes’ information about our books to everyone in the industry, in a complete and timely manner.

This year, BIC extended their award scheme to include the new Supply Chain Excellence Award, alongside the Product Data Excellence Award. We are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded an Excellence award, one of only seven publishers in the UK to receive this award (seating ourselves alongside the likes of HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Sage) and to be one of only two UK publishers using a third-party distributor to get this award. What an achievement for a small independent publisher!

The Supply Chain Award differs from the Product Excellence Award in that it focuses more on working processes, rather than on the books themselves. BIC describe winners of the award as ‘modern, technically-capable, efficient to do business with, and compliant with industry standards and practices…the best in their class for business efficiency, customer service, environmental concern and innovation.’

The questionnaire application itself was surprisingly easy, and future applicants shouldn’t be daunted by the 22-page form(!) nor the technical terms. It’s certainly simpler than it looks! For me, the tricky bit was getting the hang of the lingo…the publishing industry is full of its own wonderful list of acronyms and systems, so while most of the questions related to things that we already do, they often happen behind the scenes (and seamlessly) and I had to write to some of our partners to check how the systems work. In happy news, our distributor, NBN International, and the database company we use, Stison, were also among the tiny list of award winners in their categories. We are happy to be working together with such great partners, and it goes to show that sometimes in order to succeed, you need the support of top teams too.

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet, but we think that achieving this award demonstrates that not only are our books among the most exciting in our field, but that we too as a company rank among the best in the industry.

Paying a visit to our new distributor, NBN International

Last week we took a day out of the office and made the two hour road trip down to Plymouth to visit our new distributor, NBN International (NBNi). NBNi takes care of the storage and shipping of our books destined for customers in the UK and all over the world (except the Americas, which is handled by their American counterpart, National Book Network). We are in constant contact with the orders and customer services teams and regularly email our contacts, Juliette and Matt, with queries as we settle in to the workings of a new distributor, so I was looking forward to meeting everyone and putting faces to names.

Anna and Flo reaching dizzying heights on the forklift
Anna and Flo reaching dizzying heights on the forklift

The team at NBNi gave us a very warm welcome and while Tommi, Sarah and Laura had a meeting with Juliette and Ian about ASR (Automatic Stock Replenishment), Anna and I were taken on a tour of the warehouse and offices by Matt, our designated contact at NBNi. The tour started by navigating the maze of shelves that house the slower-moving books and then we were taken through to the packing section, where we caught our first glimpse of one of our own titles, The Darker Side of Travel, waiting to be packaged up and sent out. Next, we went through to the bulk store section of the warehouse, filled with boxes of books on shelves that reached 10 metres high. This provided the highlight of the day when Anna and I were allowed to ride one of the forklifts (kindly supervised by its driver) up to the topmost shelves. We were originally blasé when asked if we were afraid of heights, but being 10 metres up felt a lot higher from the air than it looked from the ground!

Anna's spotted our books!
Anna’s spotted our books!

Having set our feet back on firm ground, we made our way back past the packing area, were mesmerised by a plastic wrapping robot described by its operator as ‘poetry in motion’, met the warehouse manager and then went up to the mezzanine level of the warehouse to get a better view of the place. There were bookshelves as far as the eye could see and we spotted somebody dusting the top row, which has to be done every day to ensure the stored books are kept in good, saleable condition. On our way back down, we stumbled across a big chunk of shelving filled with our books, which provided a a perfect opportunity for Anna to have a photo with Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language. We then popped in to see the print on demand service, where some of our books are set up, before it was time to head back upstairs to meet the orders and customer services team, who deal with our requests on a day-to-day basis.

Books as far as the eye can see
Books as far as the eye can see

We all met up again for lunch (there was a lot of jealousy at the news of our forklift ride) and soon it was time to hit the road. There was just enough time to fit in a quick detour to Dawlish to drop in on Sarah’s parents, who greeted us with delicious scones from their local tearooms, before heading back to Bristol.

This trip was a great opportunity to meet our new colleagues at NBNi and get a feel for how everything works there. We’re looking forward to working with them in 2017 and beyond!

Flo