John Sheehy

Navigating the Hybrid Landscape: A Software Platform for Diverse Book Sales

In today’s market and according to most forecasts, digital represents the future, but the publishing industry faces an interesting paradox. While the print market experiences a gradual (slowing) decline, it remains an essential component for businesses. To that end, businesses still need a modern software platform that bridges the gap between physical book sales and eBooks and digital offerings—a comprehensive solution for publishers.

While printed books still have a cherished place in many people’s hearts—the tactile experience of flipping through pages, the smell of ink, and the weight of a well-bound book—market dynamics and customer preferences have pushed digital offerings to the forefront. Let’s take a quick look at two key factors:

Digital Revolution 

  • eBooks and audiobooks have surged in popularity. Consumers want the convenience of carrying an entire library on their devices with instant access to virtually any book.

Cost Efficiency

  • Printing, distribution, and storage costs have skyrocketed leaving publishers with little choice on where to make cuts while digital distribution eliminates these expenses, making eBooks an attractive alternative.

The Advantage platform has been used by publishers to manage and fulfill their books for over 40 years. That puts Advantage just behind the first eBook (the American Declaration of Independence in 1971!) and well before eBooks started going mainstream for sale (Bibliobytes in 1993). Over the course of that time, the Advantage platform has been continuously developed to meet this ever-changing landscape of physical books and then eBooks.

Here are a few ways the Advantage platform can manage these print and eBook data models.

Inventory Management

  • Complete inventory management with multiple warehouse support (physical and virtual). This includes receipt of inventory, tracking cost of goods sold, and tying in purchase ordering.

Sophisticated Pricing

  • Pricing strategies can differ for print and digital and even by market. Advantage supports a wide range of pricing mechanisms from volume pricing to assortable pricing. Add a comprehensive discount framework and Advantage can support nearly any pricing scheme for digital and print books. Other order amounts may come into play as well, like dynamic shipping options or miscellaneous handling charges.


  • Offering different product bundles is critical to today’s market and one that customers expect. Advantage fully supports pre-defined bundles as well as mix-and-match bundles along with associated pricing and discount schemes.


  • The distribution of books can be complicated! An order, or part of an order, may go on back order. You may decide not to stock an item that is on back order. Customers may want consolidated shipping across multiple orders. Warehouses will demand pick tickets be sent in specific formats. These are all natively supported by Advantage’s deep distribution features through granular, configuration settings. Advantage also needs to support the transfer of entitlement data to partners for fulfillment of eBooks—again, just part of Advantage’s built-in feature set!

Metadata Enrichment

  • In addition to Advantage’s vast array of product metadata configuration and custom value framework, it supports the ONIX standard to ensure products can be represented fully and shared with partners.

Royalty Management

  • Authors and publishers need to receive their fair share of revenues. Advantage calculates royalties based on sales, formats, and contractual terms. It then produces the statements and financial artifacts to keep authors and finance departments happy.

At AdvantageCS, we see print products as a critical component of an organization. Those products may be loss-leaders to some degree, but they serve to remind the market of the brand. Further, we see physical products as critical to some publishers and will continue to support them—whether they are printed books or other physical merchandise. As we navigate this hybrid landscape, the Advantage software platform continues to evolve as it has over the last 45 years. It adapts to emerging formats and integrates with emerging technologies. As the transition continues from print to digital, the Advantage platform will be ready to support our clients throughout the transition and beyond.

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