2.3. Cartographia-Navigator

The Hungarian social and economic changes of 1989-90 have also caused violent transformations in the commercial distribution of cartographic products. The formation of new types of businesses have greatly been accelerated by the economic crisis of large state-owned chains of bookshops, that had performed practically all sales of maps in previous years. The fate of these companies were finally doomed by stockpiles of unmarketable supplies, and by the earlier financing of these stocks. With the unfolding of the market economy distributing enterprises have sprung up that were able to react sensitively and quickly to the new demands, further deepening the already grave crisis of large old distributors coping desperately with adjustment problems. Now, five years later this transformation process has still not been completed. the reason behind it is that the large distributors, regardless that they are deeply in crisis, still possess the majority of the existing bookshops that do book retailing and have several decades of experience. During the process of privatization no small efforts are needed to harmonize the concepts of market economy with long-standing demands of professional book retailing.

Cartographia, the largest Hungarian map publisher has been adversely affected by the crisis of book distributors on two accounts. On the one hand it became, along with other editors a forced creditor, but unlike other editors, the majority of the products supplied did not form unmarketable stockpiles. As a reaction to the new situation Cartographia set up in 1991 its own distributing unit, making notable results in a market of transition, yet falling short of expectations due to lack of experience.

A map distributing enterprise called RACE SERVICE, established in 1990, has by this time accumulated much experience in business, selling primarily foreign maps, but also those of the largest domestic publisher in growing numbers. The resources, experiences and market positions of the two companies were united on 1 September, 1992, when Cartographia and RACE SERVICE have jointly established a new enterprise called Cartographia-Navigator Ltd.

With the setting up of the new company the founders had the aim of making a commercial body appropriately selling the entire scale of products of Cartographia Ltd. through retailers and agents. Another objective was the definition of the company's marketing strategy: essentially for Cartographia-Navigator permanently seeking and finding all potential spots of retail and, by suitable advertising, increasing the reputation of the products of Cartographia and promoting its sales.
The new and broadening international relations unfolding with the general political and economic transition have increased the interest of both private citizens and businessmen in printed geographical information. Broadening international relations have been coupled with growing passenger traffic, something that absolutely requires maps and guidebooks. To meet these demands the company should be able to offer besides cartographic information on Hungary products covering foreign territories - produced both in Hungary and abroad. Among foreign publishers of great traditions Cartographia-Navigator is the exclusive agent in Hungary of the firms Freytag-Berndt, Ravenstein, Falk and Räthgloben.

In 1994 the company sold a total of 1,200,000 copies of maps, atlases and guidebooks through its over 2,000 retailers. In addition it has, since its establishment, organized and carried out the distribution of the five different school atlases published by Cartographia in a total of almost 600,000 copies.

This high turnover has necessitated the introduction of computer technology into its commercial administration. The company installed in 1994 a business system operating in MS WINDOWS environment it had developed with consideration to the specialities of its own scale of products. The system suitable for reading universal product bar codes, has a unique product-search function. It allows search in geographical hierarchy on clients' requirements. The use of unbalanced tree structure enabling the operation of this feature is considered as a novelty among databases for commercial purposes.

It is not in Cartographia-Navigator's scope to sell the entire scale of maps produced by cartographers. Therefore it is not offering cadastral (surveying base) maps, large-scale topographic, special thematic or school wall maps. These products are sold by firms specialized in these activities.
Major future objectives of the company include the setting up of a distributing organization by territorial division through the selection of best local retailers, making Cartographia-Navigator more like a wholesale distributor.

Ferenc NAGY

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