Word Biblical Commentary

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 5:20 PM

Mike Pettit:
they expect us to believe that tracking production status is so difficult that they can never do it?

I doubt that they don't track them - more likely, they don't track them in a manner that is useful to us, the end user. I would believe, however, that Logos begins "real" tracking at the point they receive the file or manuscript. However, to me the real issue is as a user, what information is Logos obligated to give me? should give me so that I feel I am a valued customer? is an unrealistic expectation on my part? I suspect there are many different answers ... as well as different ways in which we publicize (or not) our displeasure.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Monroe R Miller | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 5:34 PM

Dan - have some more Cool Ade!

Rich+

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Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 5:43 PM

Monroe R Miller:
I see them as arrogant, not at all customer centered and bordering on dishonest. Example: they have apparently offered these WBC volumes while the volumes don't even exist.

I'm very sorry you're unhappy with us.

This year our goal is to publish 10,000 titles. There are 900 people (really!) involved in producing these volumes, working on two different continents.

The publishers give us a license, and send us a list of titles. When we get marketing materials (the material in catalogs), we try to get the books onto pre-pub -- this takes research for some titles, and sometimes just involves re-posting what the publisher provides.

We used to wait until every piece of the book -- the digital files (if any), the cover art, the two physical copies, etc. -- was available before posting the book. But it is very hard sometimes to even track down if files exist, or to get the books shipped by the publisher, etc. Sometimes we give up and order paper copies ourselves, or send a book to be keyed for which files might exist. Also, Amazon.com, B&N, and many other book-sellers automatically populate their online catalogs with the digital feeds from distributors like Ingram, which are in turn automatically fed from the publishers' data uploads.

When we wait to put a book on pre-pub till we have all these pieces, we get users saying "How come Amazon.com lists the new WBC volume and you don't?" So we tend to list new titles when we're told about them, too.

Sometimes the publishers put things in the catalog way too early. This is the case with the WBC volumes, which apparently aren't even finished being written yet.

However we do not have insight into why a book that was in the catalog for a season doesn't arrive -- we have to call the publisher and ask. And inside the publisher they have the same complex issues -- maybe the person answering the phone, or managing rights licensing, only has access to what the catalog says. Maybe the only person who knows that Book A isn't going to be on time is the editor for Book A, the identify of which isn't readily available to the person who answers the phone.

And, of course, with 300 people here, it's hard to communicate everything. Yes, there is a tracking database. It's used by the people involved in producing books -- but I don't have a log in, and don't have access to it. It isn't part of my daily work. And neither does anyone in customer service. It's used by the Electronic Text Development team and their outside contractors.

And in the case of a book like these WBC volumes, the status message isn't helpful. I'm pretty sure it says "Waiting for book or files."

Because the ETD department waits until Publisher Relations sends the book and files. And, because there are 10,000 titles going through the system, we're largely organized around reacting to the arrival of books and files, not looking at the list of 3,000 planned titles each morning and saying "I wonder where the book and files are?"

Now by the time a book hits 100% we usually have the book and/or files; when we don't someone calls the publisher to ask where they are.

But when the book is delayed in the publisher's own processes.... well, they can't tell us if they don't know themselves.

I'm sure there's a way to improve this process -- we try to revisit the tools, databases, and procedures all the time. People leave and join the organization, and we need different processes as we scale from hundreds of books a year to thousands to (hopefully) many thousands.

But it's hard to answer questions "on demand" about 10,000 different volumes without a database. And it's hard to build a database that can anticipate all the circumstances / reasons / explanations. And sometimes we literally don't know. In this case what would we put in the status field? "Book never arrived / Don't know why" / "Can't get book from publisher" / "Book doesn't exist"? That's just one example -- there are a hundred variations...

(This example of the WBC is probably the worst-case situation, because not only does it involve multiple organizations, nobody really enjoys owning up to "I know we published it in the catalog, but we don't have the manuscript written / edited / published yet." And I hope I'm not being unfair -- I really don't even know the status now! I'm going on what I've heard from our publisher relations guy about what he heard last time from his contact at the publisher who's telling us what they last heard from the editor....I guess...)

Can we own some responsibility? Well, I suppose you could fault us for putting these books on pre-pub before we could touch them. But we put most books on pre-pub before we can touch them -- that's why it's pre-pub! We even put stuff up to see if there's enough interest to write it! In most cases we're confident we CAN get/touch the book if we reach 100%, but in this case there was no way for us to know that the catalog that said "Spring 2011" (or whatever it was) wasn't going to deliver. (And, if we didn't list it, someone would be asking why Amazon, B&N, and everybody on earth has it but Logos....even though in reality no one has it.)

I suppose you can fault us for poor communication, though I'm pretty certain that there are several forum posts about these titles already. I suppose we could hire someone whose job was to hunt down book status, taking inquiries from CS, checking the ETD database, calling the 3 publisher relations reps if that status is "no books or files", then asking the publisher relations reps to search their memory or emails, then having them call the publisher if we don't know why it hasn't arrived, then having them call the publisher again in a few days when they haven't found the answer yet.... 

I know it sounds silly, but what less than this would really answer this question? Even this answer has involved me making a cell phone call to the head of publisher relations, who only happened to know because this is the "poster child" of failed delivery / expectations, because the author (?) / editor (?) / publisher (?) hasn't delivered as planned and publicly announced, and hasn't given a realistic new prediction.

I know we can fix it, but I don't know fixes that aren't incredibly wasteful of time and human resources. I'm open to suggestions.

-- Bob

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:10 PM

Bob Pritchett:
I'm open to suggestions.

My only comment would be that it might be prudent not to declare a resource is "under development" or "under contract" until you actually have either the digital files or hard copy. 

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David Bailey | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:15 PM

Concerning communications...

If "under development" means Logos is actively creating the digital text for the resource, then perhaps have another status state for public viewing that indicates Logos is awaiting digital content from outside of Logos. The content is needed before Logos can start work?

Does the database timestamp when the pre-pub / community pricing of each resource hits the 100% mark? At this point, start a timer for each resource and, after say 2 months of stagnant state, flag this resource with the new status state for public view.  If the content arrives at Logos before the 2 months, and if Logos is ready to work, then the status state should be "under development".

My 2 cents.

edit: or, as other have suggested, use an intermediate status state when Logos is awaiting something from an outside vendor or publisher.  After a period of time, if the status is stagnant, send an email or flag the situation for the production manager at Logos so that he/she can follow up with the vendor / publisher.

David

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:18 PM

Bob Pritchett:
I know we can fix it, but I don't know fixes that aren't incredibly wasteful of time and human resources. I'm open to suggestions.

As I was one inquiring a few weeks ago in a different post on this very release issue, I can understand this issue is frustrating but at the same point in time there is no easy answer. If somehow it might be possible to have a status labeled publisher delayed, this might be best. It briefly explains production issues are to do with the publisher and not with something Logos is able to control. You still might get inquiries but most people will likely be satisfied knowing it is out your hands.

-dan

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Jack Caviness | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:20 PM

alabama24:

Bob Pritchett:
I'm open to suggestions.

My only comment would be that it might be prudent not to declare a resource is "under development" or "under contract" until you actually have either the digital files or hard copy. 

Perhaps a new status marker—"Waiting for material from the publisher". 

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Mark Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 6:38 PM

Jack Caviness:
Perhaps a new status marker—"Waiting for material from the publisher". 

Yes I believe that, or a similar statement would be very helpful. "Fully subscribed but awaiting publisher input" is a bit more descriptive than "under development."

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 7:53 PM

I am fine with something as simple as "under contract" when waiting on a publisher and "under development" once Logos has begun work on it.

Thanks, Bob, for your humble and informative response.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 8:03 PM

Bob, I really appreciate your response. Thanks for taking time to explain things so thoroughly from your perspective.

Mark Smith:

Jack Caviness:
Perhaps a new status marker—"Waiting for material from the publisher". 

Yes I believe that, or a similar statement would be very helpful. "Fully subscribed but awaiting publisher input" is a bit more descriptive than "under development."

I think that this would really help.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

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Lee | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 26 2013 9:40 PM

Monroe R Miller:

I will have to limp through the last two years of my active, parish ministry with just the resources I already have.

Monroe R Miller:

Logos has just over 31,000 of my hard earned dollars. They will get no more.

Surely the understatement of the year! Or, if serious, someone who can help me "limp along" with him! Smile

On a serious note, I agree that "under contract" is uninformative, even misleading. Under contract with whom? The tagging people? But in this case, not? You see what I mean.

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Adam Rao | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 1:53 PM

To me, this is a very unusual thread. For one, if the volumes in question are Acts and/or 1 Corinthians, folks know that these haven't even been written or published yet, right? So, given that, what exactly is Logos even missing? They have all of the in-print volumes of the WBC available for purchase with one exception, and it's the one that has me confused as well – Job 38-42 by David J.A. Clines, which, as best as I can tell, has been available since 2006 to complete his monumental 3-volume work. So, yes, I guess if you were planning on preaching for two years on Job, chapters 38 through 42, you'd have reason to be marginally frustrated (though you could always just buy the hardcover to get you through!), but, otherwise, I guess I fail to see the reasoning for the anger expressed here. Logos has as much of the WBC series available for purchase as they possibly can. What's the problem?

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 4:50 PM

Adam Rao:
So, yes, I guess if you were planning on preaching for two years on Job, chapters 38 through 42, you'd have reason to be marginally frustrated (though you could always just buy the hardcover to get you through!), but, otherwise, I guess I fail to see the reasoning for the anger expressed here. Logos has as much of the WBC series available for purchase as they possibly can. What's the problem?

That problem may very well be Nelson. Yes the product is finished but are they refusing to allow a digital edition to be done for a period of time??? Historically a lot of publishers have wanted to wait years to release digital editions, like paper back editions. Some publishers like NH has the New Beacon Bible Commentary volumes available for logos release nearly as soon as the Print edition is released. What publishers often don't realize is many of us will never purchase their Hard Covers and if their product isn't available we will search for something else.  I have been waiting patiently for Job, but now that the baker old testament commentary on the wisdom books and psalms has released Job I feel less anxious I haven't canceled my preorder but I would bet there are many who will be happy to go with it only...

-Dan

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 4:54 PM

Adam Rao:
as best as I can tell, has been available since 2006 to complete his monumental 3-volume work

Nope double checked from biblio in job:

Word Biblical Commentary. Nashville: Word, 2011. The 2006 was a projected date but release wasn't till 2011.

-Dan

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 5:21 PM

Adam ... you can read just like I (sometimes) do. Communication. Re-read your 2nd sentence. You had to forego Logos to determine if indeed a 'product' even existed.

Now on Amazon, I also have pre-pubs. Amazon keeps me updated with messages like 'We don't think this book is for real, so we're out of here.' Or 'Even though the publisher say 2 weeks, better plan on 4th quarter.' Yes, these are my made-up words (I did apply for a job writing emails), but a real communication.

I even got used to Amazon being more up to date than the publisher site.

Now it's true Amazon doesn't have 10,000 books in the mill. And they don't operate on 2 continents. Plus they don't do 'tagging'.

But they 'communicate.' 

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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Bob Pritchett | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 6:12 PM

We have decided to invest more time in our pre-pub system to allow it to show more fine-grained status messages. This will be part of a scheduled update to our product pages; it's still a few months out before being complete, but when it is you'll see some new statuses beyond "Under Contract" that provide more detail if we are waiting for the publisher.

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Kevin A. Purcell | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 6:38 PM

Bob Pritchett:

We have decided to invest more time in our pre-pub system to allow it to show more fine-grained status messages. This will be part of a scheduled update to our product pages; it's still a few months out before being complete, but when it is you'll see some new statuses beyond "Under Contract" that provide more detail if we are waiting for the publisher.

Whether this came as a result of interaction on this forum or not, I commend you for this step! Way to go Logos!

<from the resident curmudgeon who often gets accused of being negative about Logos>

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Beloved Amodeo | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 6:50 PM

Denise:

I even got used to Amazon being more up to date than the publisher site.

Now it's true Amazon doesn't have 10,000 books in the mill. And they don't operate on 2 continents. Plus they don't do 'tagging'.

But they 'communicate.

Denise,

I respectfully must disagree. AMZ customer service can involve excruciatingly involved introductions, they are for the most part amicable. But, my most recent unsavory clash with the circuitous catacombs of customer service occurred with my purchase of BIGHG in July which I pre-ordered in May. 

After several unproductive conversations around the "real" release date, I called the publisher and spoke to this sweetheart of a secretary. Who informed me that the said book would be ready for release a few months later with no hard and fast date as AMZ indicated on its' site.

Now, how is it that I came to be doing the work of someone on AMZ payroll. I'm not saying AMZ is frequently wrong. Because more often than not they do find away to satisfy their customer.

On the other hand let's not overlook Logos strengths. One thing I think is an enviable characteristic, is the opportunity they give the customer to develop a one on one relationship with a very motivated sales representative, rather than always speaking to someone in the Philippines or somewhere who doesn't know you from Adam. And that's a good thing.

Lastly, AMZ does do business throughout the world. Lookey here

 

Meanwhile, Jesus kept on growing wiser and more mature, and in favor with God and his fellow man.

International Standard Version. (2011). (Lk 2:52). Yorba Linda, CA: ISV Foundation.

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 7:12 PM

Bob Pritchett:

We have decided to invest more time in our pre-pub system to allow it to show more fine-grained status messages. This will be part of a scheduled update to our product pages; it's still a few months out before being complete, but when it is you'll see some new statuses beyond "Under Contract" that provide more detail if we are waiting for the publisher.

Thanks Bob. I think that will be a great improvement.

Using adventure and community to challenge young people to continually say "yes" to God

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DMB | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Aug 27 2013 7:16 PM

Good news from Bob!

Beloved ... AMZ isn't the cats meow; you're right. I'd say half my Kindle books have issues (1 unreadable).

But 'for me' they are (were?) a lot more status communicating.

"God will save his fallen angels and their broken wings He'll mend."

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