The year 2015 may be a landmark year for many educational publishers, says CMO Rahul Arora of MPS Limited. “Most of our clients have informed us that they have a committed program and leadership impetus toward transforming into a truly digital organization in three years’ time. Publishers also recognize that their in-house talent may not necessarily have all the skills and competencies required for this transformation, and so they plan to lean heavily on partners such as MPS to help them realize this transformation. As such, our conversations with clients have become more strategic in nature, where we are invited to share innovative ideas on how we can lead them toward a digital future.”
At the same time, he finds that publishers are switching to digital-first workflows and trying to do it as fast as possible. “In the past, many have chosen to have separate print and media or Web production departments, but this is a luxury that is likely to disappear in the coming years. Already, there is an emphasis on training print project managers to also manage the production of media assets.”
But most publishers are grappling with determining their needs for an integrated system and migration path for legacy systems and data. “Some publishers already have large XML repositories that have been built up at the back-end of the print production process. The challenge now is to build workflows to integrate these databases into a digital-first process,” adds Arora.
Publishers also have to deal with other issues such as practical device restrictions on video, audio, math rendering, and Unicode compliance. “These are possibly as inhibiting to educational publishers as is the question of digital cannibalization,” observes Walter Walker, executive director of publishing services at codeMantra. “But whether it is about ePub 3.0 or any of the multitude of alternative formats, it is the educational publishers who represent the next major demand for digital services.”
Recent months have seen the Common Core standards complicating the lives of those in the k–12 educational segment. “As an editorial vendor, our role is to create or revise content, or to do both, to meet Common Core standards as required,” says president Amit Vohra of Contentra Technologies. “Many clients that we work with are adding new materials or revising as needed to show that all Common Core requirements are being addressed and met. In some instances, just a few words are sufficient to do the job.” He points out that supplementary material publishers have also shown a keen awareness of the standard.
Such awareness of industry formats and specifications coupled with increased internalization of knowledge about the digital production process have been increasing recently. As president Maran Elancheran of Newgen Knowledge Works points out: “Gone are the days when a book publisher might just ask its prepress vendors to provide XML along with the print files, and to suggest a suitable DTD for the purpose. Nowadays, a request to supply XML tends to be accompanied by exhaustive text-capture instructions for a customized incarnation of a particular version of a specific DTD.”
The same clarity of prescription is emerging in requests for e-book formats as well, adds Elancheran, who finds it “a welcome trend for those of us who offer digital pre-press services, particularly when—as is commonly the case—we have been involved by the publishers in evolving these specifications. But perhaps even more welcome has been a consequent trend to re-examine existing digital workflows, a willingness to re-engineer workflows to accommodate the myriad new delivery formats smoothly, rather than simply to treat those new formats as appendixes to an established process.”
Speaking of e-books, Oliver Holden of IBS Bookmaster Americas says that “many small- and mid-tier publishers have been reluctant to sell to consumers directly for a variety of reasons, including not offending the 800-pound gorilla. Yet, with the way the gorilla is dictating terms, small- and mid-tier publishers can feel like their profits are slowly sinking in quicksand.”
By building their own direct-sales mechanism, principally through an active customer-oriented Web site that is tightly integrated into the back-end systems, these smaller publishers, according to Holden, “can add 30% profitability to every sale simply by eliminating the cut the aggregators take out of them. For every 3.3 copies of a title sold, it is tantamount to selling one more book on those Web sites, and without any overhead, too. Bookmaster and Rightsmaster suites of solutions would enable these smaller publishers to achieve just that.”
On the following pages are highlights of what some companies in the digital space are doing at BookExpo America.
Solidifying its services and software offerings for the entire publishing chain has been the focus at codeMantra in the past two years. “Helping to drive a publisher’s workflow from manuscript to market is our mantra,” says Walter Walker, executive director of publishing services. “The integration of full composition and project management capabilities as well as new software modules in collectionPoint [cP], for instance, is aimed at offering customers solutions for asset composition, management, conversion, and distribution.”
cP 3.0 is codeMantra’s trademarked Web-based digital asset management and distribution platform. “We have adopted powerful new XML tool sets and InDesign plug-ins to expedite full composition and pagination workflow,” says Walker. “At the same time, our offshore production facility [in Chennai] uses a systematic XML conversion at the pre-composition stage to optimize elements and components for easier digital conversions in the post-production phase. Clients would see cost savings through the new workflow as well as a substantial added value in terms of improved time-to-market.”
The company’s strategic alliance with ePubDirect, an international full-service e-book distributor, has also enabled codeMantra “to offer customers access to an indirect reseller for their content—one that can place their content with hundreds of smaller retailers worldwide,”.
Walker points out one of the surprising ways in which digital workflow affects publishers’ bottom lines and product decisions. “Take one recent project from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Its publishing division has long wanted to preserve and make possible the recreation of its many high-quality—and out-of-print—art monographs and show catalogues. However, the original production files for many of these titles date back to the 1960s and have long since disappeared. So our team used high-resolution nondestructive scanning processes to reproduce the POD files with remarkable fidelity. Then, working together with Acme Bookbinding, Yale University Press, and the Met, we set up protocols and processes to provide direct-to-consumer POD sales, as well as the shipment of finished monographs. The Met has since reported very encouraging sales on many of its out-of-print titles.”
For more information on cP 3.0 and other codeMantra solutions and services, please contact Walker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Known formerly as Planman Technologies, the new name, Contentra (and its colorful logo), represents the company’s renewed focus on content transformation services and service expansion. With at least half of its business coming from the U.S., BookExpo America is the perfect venue for president Amit Vohra and his team to spread the word about Contentra’s new identity and goals. “As a trusted partner for the book, library, and news industries, we plan to take our services to newer markets and industries. Our view is that all organizations in every industry are content publishers, with unique content life cycles and extraordinary amounts of content to be created, repurposed, and distributed. Through our partnership with these publishers or content creators, we have broadened the scope of our services, and, as such, the new name is reflective of our new capabilities and specialized offerings in transforming content.”
The company’s end-to-end delivery—from authoring to conversion—will bring substantial savings in terms of cost and turnaround time, adds Vohra.
Naturally the team has plenty of projects to showcase its capabilities. New to Contentra’s portfolio (and a bonus to U.S. educational publishers) is its capabilities in, and expertise on, the Common Core standards. “We have developed numerous language arts and mathematics titles in Common Core, for which we have written specific materials including assessments to meet the standards. The math standards are more challenging because of the way the concepts are presented and the requirement to continue the presentation throughout the grades.”
Then there was the iBooks Author project for middle school and high school textbooks that in total covered 12,000 pages, 13,300 illustrations, and a huge number of math equations. Another project on psychology requiring animation using HTML5 had the team creating static assets for all digital object storyboards, producing both Flash and HTML5 versions of the animation, and making the HTML5 animations compatible with both iOS and Android platforms.
To find out how Contentra can help with a publisher’s next print or digital initiative, or assist in tackling problems in standards such as Common Core, head over to booth DZ2062.
DiTech Process Solutions
Radical yet evolutionary is STUDYeBUDDY, a one-stop solution for aggregating academic and reference content from publishers worldwide for students on the Indian subcontinent. Created by DiTech founder and CEO Nizam Ahmed, STUDYeBUDDY supports both B2B and B2C models—the first of its kind in the Indian digital marketplace—while also enabling offline sales of ancillaries. “Currently, we are the only aggregator of multi-publisher digital content in India that is focused only on academic content for curricula and reference.” Among the 50 participating houses are large and well-known names, including five from the k–12 segment, two medical, three engineering, and two test preparation and exam companies.
With the number of Internet users expected to grow from the current 100 million to 237 million by 2015, the potential market for STUDYeBUDDY is huge. “Now that digital reading is rapidly gaining acceptance, there is visible enthusiasm among institutions and universities to convert and monetize their huge repositories of print content. The digitizing, which involves scanning and embedding search mechanisms and other enhancements, will lead to the creation of numerous virtual libraries,” one of the main factors that prompted Ahmed to create STUDYeBUDDY, which addresses the lack of affordable paperback editions of international titles and the urgent need for such content.
The portal’s February 8, 2013, launch in New Delhi has since garnered a lot of interest from academic publishers looking into distributing their content in India. For Ahmed, the portal is a natural evolution of the digital services that his team has been providing to publishing clients worldwide.
“DiTech offers end-to-end solutions from content creation to content sales. Our goal is to partner clients in creating and developing content as well as championing their book sales through our digital platform STUDYeBUDDY. So we are a pre-press supplier, a technology company, and a content aggregator rolled into one,” adds Ahmed, who will be at booth DZ1971C to showcase such projects as one done for an STM publisher that involved total project management of books and journals with print PDF, ePDF, and XML deliverables, as well as another turnkey legacy digitizing project for one major publishing house.
For Ahmed, the creation of STUDYeBUDDY enforces his idea that it is crucial to view purchasers of content—in the form of e-book, app or learning module—as brand champions. “In that sense, we need to develop products where the consumers can interact directly with the creator of the content, thereby making the reader or consumer a part of the content development process.”
For Sweden-based IBS (International Business Systems), its business is providing solutions for publishers and distributors to manage the integration of systems for both digital delivery and the more traditional channels of print and print on-demand. Its Web-to-consumer integration capabilities, for instance, are able to match the rapid delivery demanded by today’s consumers and businesses.
IBS recently announced Rightsmaster, a complimentary software suite to its flagship product, Bookmaster. “Many publishers are being forced to change their business processes in the face of a rapidly evolving licensing environment,” says sales director Oliver Holden of IBS Bookmaster Americas. “They are finding that royalties and rights management is adding a level of complexity for which they are not prepared. With Rightsmaster, publishers can manage copyrights, royalties, and permission processes in one go. They can see a payback in as little as six months while improving the accuracy of their records. It simplifies the entire process while providing a real competitive advantage.”
Publishers and distributors, adds Holden, “are finding it tough to manage everything in one integrated system especially when faced with demands of digital, print, and POD deliveries at the back-end as well as direct-to-consumer, business-to-business, and aggregator order fulfillment at the front-end. So our Bookmaster division has come in with solutions aimed at alleviating these headaches with a comprehensive suite of software to manage all aspects of the distribution process.”
The latest release of Bookmaster completely integrates Web-to-customer ordering for fulfillment and delivery of digital products. “Regardless of the delivery method, whether for e-book, authorized access, or subscription, Bookmaster provides for customers to enter orders and view real-time information on prices, temporary promotions, inventory availability, and catalogue data. The fulfillment of that title is immediately processed when the customer clicks Submit,” adds Holden.
Rightsmaster, offered as both a stand-alone and an enhancement module to Bookmaster, will make its debut at BEA. Head over to booth DZ1769 for a demo or make an appointment with Laurie Iseman at email@example.com. for more discussion of Bookmaster’s fit to your set of issues and priorities.
The biggest news from MPS in recent weeks is the definitive agreement that it has entered into with Element, under which MPS will acquire the Florida-based full-service k–12 publishing player, subject to regulatory approval and customary closing conditions. “Educational publishers will benefit from the wider range of services that Element will now be able to offer by leveraging on MPS, and we will support Element completely from our multiple business units to create compelling solutions for k–12 publishers,” says CEO Nishith Arora.
The only major publishing-services company listed on India’s stock exchanges, MPS has made significant progress with technology platforms since the last BookExpo. Says CMO Rahul Arora, “In addition to our e-book distribution portal, ContentStore, we have launched ScholarStor, a platform for journals and reference content, which has a manuscript submission and peer review system. Most significantly, we have upgraded the MPSTrak workflow management platform from one restricted to journals to an integrated system for journals, books, and major reference works.”
MPS’s DigiCore platform, in particular the online editing component, DigiEdit, has also undergone considerable upgrading. “This system allows authors to make changes online to content while protecting the underlying XML layer. The same content can then be auto-paged by the DigiComp component, boosted with rich media features in DigiEnrich, converted to various mobile formats with DigiCon, and distributed via ScholarStor. The entire workflow is managed intelligently via MPSTrak,” Rahul Arora says. Another platform, MediaSuite, now supports HTML in addition to Flash and delivers a variety of mobile formats.
“We are making rapid inroads into the higher education space with our integrated print and digital asset production model, leveraging our established relationships with publishers and our vast portfolio of book production services. We continue to thrive and grow in the STM market as well as in our strong legacy journal production business,” says Rahul Arora, adding that the surge in content production resulting from open access has certainly benefited his company. Millions of pages are converted at MPS every year to a variety of formats as publishers seek different ways to present their content.
For further discussion on platforms and the future of publishing, head over to booth DZ2068, or contact the MPS technology team at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange for demos of DigiCore, MediaSuite, MPSTrak, ScholarStor, and other platforms.
Newgen Knowledge Works
If 2012 was the year of service extension and experimentation for Newgen, then 2013 is one of simplification of digital publishing workflows. “It is a theme that we are pursuing in our conversations with clients and industry bodies,” says Newgen’s New Jersey-based president, Maran Elancheran. “But because we have a maverick side, too, we also appreciate our clients’ openness to experiment with new formats and new approaches—whether in digital publishing, with one-off book or journal apps and cloud-based content-management solutions through our Cloud Matters division, or more generally.”
At the moment, Elancheran and his team are bouncing around ideas with one client about how Newgen can publish academic books within two weeks of the author submitting the final manuscript. “Mind you, 10 years ago, we might have been having a similar conversation about the feasibility of 10-month schedules.” With other clients Elancheran is “looking at new solutions for publishing enhanced journal articles that better address the needs of researchers, developing accessible content as part of the workflow for undergraduate textbooks, extending our advanced editorial automation to handle European languages, and typesetting trade books in the cloud within a few seconds.”
Last year, increased demand for mobile products drove two large projects at Newgen. “For one journal client, we took 20 journals onto the iPad via Adobe Publishing Suite, reformatting the print product for optimum display on a tablet. This trial proved so successful with subscribers that the next tranche of 100 journals is being lined up for mobilization. For another publisher, we digitized the bulk of the frontlist for mobile distribution in a custom application.”
This year, Newgen expanded its existing portfolio of development work in professional and academic law and medicine publishing with the acquisition of Connecticut-based NETS, a full-service provider of k–12 materials for teachers and students. NETS offers editorial, art and design, composition and pre-press, and interactive media services—the latter an excellent fit for Newgen’s Cloud Matters division in Chennai, which spent 2012 building cloud-based solutions and mobile applications for publishers.
For more information on Newgen’s products and solutions, please contact Elancheran at email@example.com.
Providing a platform where publishers can create and brand their own presence in the e-book world is Qbend’s focus. “In the long term, publishers want to have control of their e-book strategy while connecting directly with their consumers,” says COO Kaushik Sampath, adding that Qbend’s customized e-bookstore platform enables selling by chapters, rentals, custom publications, and subscriptions. “Such features are offered at no upfront cost, thereby eliminating a major entry barrier to e-book retailing.”
Qbend’s main theme at this show is selling direct. “We help publishers understand what the needs of the consumers are, and then use our e-bookstore platform’s various sales models as well as our patent-pending robust publishing engine S.N.A.P. [Search, Navigate, Assemble, Publish] to deliver the content—on-demand—in the right format,” says CEO Kris Srinaath. “At the same time, our built-in robust analytics tools provide in-depth behavioral patterns, purchase trends, discounts, marketing campaign performances, and other critical analysis to enable publishers to fine-tune and streamline their marketing activities.”
In-depth analytics, adds Sampath, are something that publishers do not get from traditional retailers. “As a rule, consumers often do not explicitly state their needs, thus making it difficult to understand them or their needs. This is where consumer behavior analytics come into play. Qbend helps publishers derive behavioral patterns that show what consumers want, and tailor the offerings accordingly.”
Currently, publishers from more than 15 countries use Qbend’s platform to power their e-bookstores, most of which are localized in terms of languages, currencies, and payment methods. “We also allow publishers to have different e-bookstores in different geographies with different product pricing—again, at no extra cost,” notes Sampath.
This summer, Qbend extends its host of e-retailing features by allowing consumers to put together customized publication from a publisher’s content repository. “This feature is most beneficial to researchers and students who often require content from different titles from the same publisher. On the other hand, it will provide an attractive revenue stream for publishers who are able to de-chunk their content and allow customized e-books,” Sampath explains.
For more information about the different ways Qbend can help to accelerate your e-book business, drop by booth DZ2060 during BEA.