Many in the publishing community are familiar with the name Quality Solutions—it has long produced the Title Management software that many houses use to track and send out data about their books. But, like so much else in the book biz, the time for change has come, at least according to Fran Toolan, president of newly minted Firebrand Technologies.
In a dramatic opening speech at the Quality Solutions/Firebrand User Conference, held April 8 in Newburyport, Mass., Toolan announced he was “saying goodbye to Quality Solutions,” pretended he was quitting the company, then revealed its new name, dubbing the clients in the audience “firebrands.” Some 110 people attended the conference, most of them clients and vendors. Alongside in-depth seminars about Firebrand's new software, there were also talks by industry professionals. “Our business has been to provide software for publishers to manage the process of bringing out new books. We knew we had to do something radical to remain relevant,” said Toolan.
Firebrand also unveiled the newest version of its Title Management software, version 7.0, which will be available this summer. The old Quality Solutions software was basically a database system organized around ISBNs, accessible one title at a time. To reflect the changing publishing industry—in which a book is often connected to various other forms of media—version 7.0 links many kinds of projects together into one cohesive system. “Soon, we're going to have more multimedia kinds of experiences—mashups of text, videos, pictures and blogs—so what we need to be able to do for publishers is to let them link all that stuff together, so that they're the ones combining it, not the market,” Toolan said. Many of these features will be accessible through Web-based applications, some of which are already available in the current software. Other new features will enhance Firebrand's Eloquence service (which sends book data to vendors like Amazon and B&N).
“Companies need to get their digital-workflow acts together,” said Toolan. “I believe that the Kindle was a watershed event—the striking lack of titles available for it embarrassed publishers. At the conference, we wanted to give publishers actionable things to do tomorrow, as opposed to telling them about the future. The conference was designed to be a call to arms.”