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Ingram to Create New Book Catalog Database, Drop Long-Standing Connection with Bowker
Posted On March 5, 2001
Ingram Customer Systems, Inc. ( has announced that in early April it will release a comprehensive new book-title database to booksellers and libraries. The database will cover more than 1.5 million titles, in contrast with the nearly 4 million titles covered by Bowker's Books In Print. At the same time, Ingram has announced that it will drop its 12-year-old alliance with R.R. Bowker (, a division of Reed Elsevier, and Ingram Books in Print, the subset of Bowker's Books In Print that it had supplied to Ingram. Reed-Elsevier recently announced that it was selling Bowker along with other library-oriented products. (See Barbara Quint's other March 5, 2001 NewsBreak, "Bowker for Sale, All or in Parts.")

Ingram Books in Print Plus was both a Web and a CD-ROM product. Ingram will continue to distribute the product through May, according to the announcement, but then the collaboration will end. Michael Lovett, president and CEO of Ingram Book Group, Inc., said: "We are very pleased to introduce our new comprehensive database. Our customers need quick access to content-rich data and better bibliographic information, and so it becomes increasingly important that we provide this new, dynamic, one-stop portal of information. Also, Ingram plans to continually expand its database by adding future enhancements such as music and video titles and, of course, more book titles, including highly specialized book categories and textbooks."

In abandoning the Bowker collaboration, one Ingram executive stated that the decision was made due to the need by Ingram's customers for easier searching and more relevant titles. An awareness that Reed Elsevier might sell the 125-year-old Bowker might have also pushed Ingram to develop its own service. Bowker executives defend their Books In Print as still the best in the industry and far more comprehensive than what Ingram has. The Ingram Books in Print collaborative product covered 1.7 million titles, while the full Bowker Books In Print covers nearly 4 million titles, including audio and video.

Ingram offers a business-to-business Web-based service called ipage. ipage provides a number of book-title database access products besides the new one and the soon-to-be-discontinued Ingram Books in Print. These include TitleQuest, PROfiche, and content@ingram. In addition to services identifying the 520,000-plus titles in Ingram's own inventory, ipage also offers other book-title products, including connections to the 13 million rare and out-of-print books identified by Alibris and the 20,000 print-on-demand titles from Lightning Source, Inc. The new database, still unnamed but referred to internally as Companion, will also appear in CD-ROM format. It will incorporate listings of all titles currently or previously carried in Ingram's inventory, and the disc version will integrate seamlessly with the ipage Web service.

Lovett invites Ingram's bookseller and librarian clients to "determine the best title reference tool for his or her specific needs. This new comprehensive database delivers what our customers have been asking for. Not only will Ingram customers get the speed and the extended content they need, but they will also be able to access Ingram's real-time inventory stock checks and enhanced supplier information for easy ordering. The benefit of developing this database is that our customers will get a very fast, locally run CD-ROM product plus ‘one-click access' to ipage for all the content and images they need." Extended content on ipage includes book reviews, citations, first chapters, table of contents, and extended supplier information, as well as direct electronic ordering and access to self-service and merchandising options.

Bowker continues to defend the primacy of its product. According to Angela D'Agostino, Bowker's director of product development, the latest version of the company's Web-based and CD-ROM Books In Print, is "richer, more accurate, and completely authoritative. It also provides outstanding integration with our customers' existing systems. 2000 is a multifaceted tool for collection development, acquisitions, and reference/patron/customer questions for libraries, bookstores, and publishers. While other sources of bibliographic information are designed to sell books, our focus is to collect, verify, and distribute accurate book data. Additionally, we provide comprehensive audio and video data. Librarians and booksellers can use 2000 to find the titles they need and then check stock availability with their preferred suppliers." In terms of enhanced content, the new version included a library of more than 200,000 book jackets as well as author profiles, more than 385,000 full-text reviews, access to 12 prominent bestseller lists, and two bestseller databases (including one from Publishers Weekly that extends back more than a century).

Ingram Customer Systems, Inc. is a unit of Ingram Book Group, a wholesaler of trade books, spoken audio, and magazines. Its information products and services support other operating units of the larger group, such as Ingram Book Co.; Ingram Periodicals, Inc.; Ingram Library Services, Inc.; and Ingram Fulfillment Services, Inc.

Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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