Things are really busy for me at work this week, with a training underway for online journalists from the former Yugoslavia, an impromptu LiveSupport developers’ meeting and the runup to the release of Campware’s newest software project, Dream.

Dream is a database system that lets publishers keep better track of their print runs. It addresses a common problem for publishers not only in ‘transition countries’ but just about anywhere: how can you optimize the number of returned copies, and know which of your vendors (newsstands, stores, hotels, etc.) are actually selling how many copies?

Prognosis had a hellacious problem with distribution back in the day. The Czechoslovak state had granted a monopoly on all print distribution to an organization called PNS (rightfully pronounced penis). We don’t know if there was baksheesh involved, how much and to whom, but for whatever reason, whenever the kingmakers at PNS decided to cause trouble, issues would simply disappear from newsstands and they’d refuse to take more.

Which meant that Prognosis had to create its own ad-hoc distribution network of teenage salesmen (who for some reason were called camelots, even without wearing tights or anything).

The situation has improved slightly in the Czech Republic since those days, in that there are now two distribution giants competing to service newsstands. But imagine you’re an independent publisher in some other country who’s found himself on the wrong side of the president’s business interests. Chances are the old PNS monopoly would sound outright benign.

Dream is written for those guys, but can help in lots of other places. And it’s free and open source. Expect the formal announcement in the next few days, just as soon as we get the ink dried on the manuals.

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