Can HP’s Piazza Complete The New Silk Road?

The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that connected the east (Asia) with the west (Europe).  The network included both land-based and maritime connections.  The Silk Road is in the news again as China has made restoring the ancient network a strategic priority for economic and diplomatic regional development.

In NA Trade publishing, the network of EDI connections between publishers, booksellers and wholesalers has been robustly built, starting most significantly in North America with Pubnet in 1987.  Pubnet set the standard for EDI ordering between publishers and booksellers (first with college stores).  The electronic links between publishers and their customers now handle the great majority of the ordering volume.

Here’s a model of demand flows (orders) in NA Trade publishing.  demand flow in NA v1.0

The yellow arrow [1-6] representing the order link between publishers and printers, is the link most lacking electronic connection .  This is true for the transmission of purchase orders (for print jobs), as well as for the transmission of the order fulfillment (ship to and packing requirements) (for bindery or drop-shipments).

Because it fills this gap, Piazza could become the new standard link between publishers and printers, completing the 21st century Silk Road for publishing.  The fast-movers and market leaders who leverage Piazza’s capabilities will be the market leaders in the future.  Piazza can be the vehicle for well-placed entities, whether printers, distributors, or others to capture market share and order volume.As impetus for publishers to create API’s to interface to Piazza, savvy market leaders will cultivate a network effect that will create a virtuous circle.

As more publishers and printers are connected through Piazza, the order volume through the network will increase significantly.  With that direct PTO order volume driving increased capacity for printing a book of one, publishers themselves will drive the offset to digital print conversion for all but the highest profile titles. Publishers then will carry significantly less inventory as print-to-order comprises a growing share of total book production.