What went into the initial stages of planning and executing a digital publishing project? Which area posed the biggest challenge? What happened after the project was near completion? Here, 18 digital-solutions providers talk about their unique projects and give a broad idea on the type of services that they offer to book and journal publishers.
A major backlist digitization project involving books for a multinational book and journal publisher was the highlight at Aaltech Group. "The entire backlist of 700 titles was converted into three different formats—ePub, Mobi, and print PDF. In view of the project scale, our technology team first developed a cost-effective transformation workflow that was tailored to the publisher's specific needs and type of titles. Then, the output files were QA-tested before they were delivered to the publisher," says director P. Shivaalkar, adding that all 700 titles were digitized within four weeks.
For another project involving highly interactive online courses that are to be made accessible on mobile, tablet and PC platforms, the Aaltech team decided to use Adobe Edge Animate CC to create a wide variety of interactivities that were customizable and applicable to content from different subject areas. "Games, drag-and-drop, quizzes, and interactive diagrams were some of the activities used in these online courses. For us, the goals of this project were obvious: reducing the development and production costs, and shortening the production time even as we looked for ways to enrich the courses," adds v-p for business development Thiru Baskaran.
Cenveo Publisher Services
McGraw-Hill Education's Everyday Mathematics is one complex digital project that allowed the expertise and experience of Cenveo's digital team to shine. This project required the creation of about 200 math games using HTML5 Canvas. Each game, with no fewer than 20 user-interaction data points, is functional across more than 35 browsers, operating systems, and device platforms. The user data is integrated with the client's custom learning system to bring about personalization and analytics.
Another project involved creating a comprehensive curriculum synched directly to English courses in China for the first through ninth grades. This project, for Golden Voice English (GVE) Online Education, covers more than 700 animations; 324 interactive listening exercises; 324 interactive speaking lessons; 252 grammar, reading, and writing exercises; 72 "just-for-fun" activities; 144 unit assessments; nine midterm exams; and another nine final exams. "For a game called Mad Movies, where an animated movie clip plays and students have to select the correct dialogues to complete the movie, our e-learning team added complex interactive animations in HTML5 and parallax techniques," marketing director Marianne Calilhanna says. "The entire course can be viewed on all devices, and has AICC and SCORM conformance for LMS integration." There is an additional three-lesson short course designed to keep students engaged in their English studies over the summer and winter breaks.
For Abrams Learning Trends, a publisher of supplementary materials for pre-K through grade 5, the CodeMantra team utilized Engage—on CP module to provide a secure and user-friendly environment with social networking to connect teachers, students, and their parents. "This customized solution includes a bookshelf and an online reader, and enables the publisher to deliver supplemental information quickly and easily to teachers directly. The DIG! Platform also provides a reporting feature to enable Abrams team to see which books, games, or digital assets teachers are accessing most often," says chief product and technology officer Sanjeev Kalyanaraman.
Another client, the World Bank, utilizes CodeMantra's catalogue generator—a part of its Engage—on CP solution—to leverage customized design templates, stored cover images, and metadata using specifically tailored business rules to auto-generate each catalogue as needed. "This feature allows our client to create custom catalogues on demand for events, subjects, and geographic regions. The reusable customized design templates save both time and cost on every catalogue that they created," president Walter Walker adds.
Continuum Content Solutions
Partnering with a leading governmental agency in an initiative toward ensuring that all persons with reading impairments can access literature and daily newspapers through media appropriate to them has brought out the creativity in the Continuum team. A Web-based application platform was created to distribute and provide access to more than 150 newspapers for people with visual impairments. "Our operations convert approximately 5,000 pages of PDF/InDesign files of magazines and newspapers into XML, with each input file converted within three hours of receipt at an accuracy of 99.95%. So far we have converted and distributed over 28,000 newspaper and magazine editions for this particular client," explains founder and CEO Amit Vohra.
Another project saw the team producing RePub, PRISM XML, and Digital replica files for delivery to multiple e-newsstands for one media publishing company. More than 140 titles in multiple formats have been produced so far.
A book comprising 4,000 pages in 1,104 sections with essential and extensive footnotes of case law, precedents, tax review articles and more than 50,000 internal and external links was a recent challenge at Deanta. "Every year, more than 5,000 amendments are made to the text, and these have to be implemented within a short turnaround time. This project also follows a full-XML workflow, whereby thousands of cross-links have to be updated and generated for each publication," says CEO Darren Ryan, pointing out that "the tagging and links are used to populate the client's taxonomy and its comprehensive tax legislation and commentary portal. Our team designed and rolled out the DTD for all publication as well as the ePub versions, and assisted in the development of the client's tax app."
For one trade series, the task for Team Deanta was to typeset scorecards in table formats. "These are basically about cricket test matches between two countries, and their respective scores for each innings. The challenge was in ensuring that each test-match results fit into a single page. Additionally, we had to create a table of about 50 pages in landscape format which has the score details and ratings of each player from the teams and different countries," Ryan says, whose team handled the full-service project management process for more than 250 Rowman & Littlefield titles within a six-month period.
A LaTex manuscript from one bestselling author that had to be published within a few weeks gave the team a major challenge. "Normally, such a project and tight schedule would not be an issue, but this 650-page manuscript had complex equations and computer codes on nearly every page. Yet the client wanted to use InDesign workflow as per their internal policy," says executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath, whose team proceeded with a specialized workflow to compile the equations in LaTex and then paginate the content in InDesign. "The author, upon seeing the proofs, was very happy to see that his math requirements were met and the page layout well designed."
For another publisher wanting to create a digital supplement, DiacriTech first created the storyboard, and then, upon approval, worked on the digital assets offshore and its voice feeds onshore. The digital supplement was done in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. The QC of the language and usability was also done onshore. "The client envisaged testing the digital products in the other two languages, and if successful, to proceed with the printed format. Needless to say, the digital book was well received, and the client asked us to work on the printed book as well. Increasingly, we see a trend among publishers to create a digital-first product to test the market before proceeding with the print version."
For Hurix, Kitaboo is the much sought-after product for clients. One major European educational publishers, for instance, has more than one million users accessing its white-labeled Kitaboo platform, which is extensively used for e-book creation and distribution. The heavily customized solution is also reconfigured to offer a flexible platform that integrates the company's products and services with its infrastructure.
Another client, this time from the U.S., uses Kitaboo solutions for three different verticals. The customized Kitaboo enables smooth integration of its distribution and access of e-books while unifying the verticals under one stable platform.
Deploying a new LMS for a nursing/health organization with more than 400,000 members was a major project at Impelsys. "The client wanted a structured online courseware built from their existing content, which will allow busy health professionals the freedom of choosing the time and location to study and complete their courses. Ancillaries and assessments had to be developed out of the journal articles and the content transformed into effective learning modules," explained Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for marketing and presales.
The assembled team of subject matter experts—comprising members of the Impelsys medical advisory board, cognitive scientists, content engineers, and instructional designers—set out to design the courseware. Templates and solutions structure were built while the content was transformed into HTML and made SCORM-compliant so that it can be used in any LMS platform with ease. Navigation through each ancillary-laden course was further simplified using instructional design. The complete SCORM courseware was then loaded onto iPublishCentral Learn platform, with independent access controls for administrators, instructors, and learners.
Integra Software Services
Another unique project involved turning a print journal into an interactive e-journal laden with maps, graphs, and animations for a German publisher. The team used the Flipbook development tool and HTML5 to add the interactivities. "The Flipbook interface make the e-journal accessible to readers that are not tech-savvy—or not used to e-journals—while at the same time, provide them with additional elements that enrich the content and their understanding of the subject," Subramanya says.
"We have been working on Elsevier's JBSM app for four years now, and we recently added two important features—Accessibility and Open Access—to the platform. This was a first for any publisher to add such features to their mobile platform," CTO Gurvinder Batra says. "The Accessibility feature allows visually impaired people to have complete access to the content in the app using the device capability as well as the ability of the mobile platform to make itself very accessible. Similarly, with Open Access being such a huge thing in publishing, we made it possible for a mobile user to have free access to an Open Access article and/or an issue for a specific journal."
GlobeChat, on the other hand, is unique project featuring a chat platform for iOS, Android, Windows, and the Web that supports more than 43 languages. "It allows two or more users to chat in their respective native language. For instance, a user can be texting in English to another user who only understands Spanish. Through this platform, the Spanish user will see the text appear in Spanish, and when he or she responds in Spanish, the text will appear at the other end in English. Another unique feature connects a celebrity to fans irrespective of their native language," Batra says, adding that the app has been very successful at its initial launch, with thousands of users worldwide.
Lapiz Digital Services
An e-book project of approximately 100,000 pages—and covering 35 languages—from an old library landed at Lapiz Digital recently. "Our client did not have alternative source files, so we had to work from the image PDFs, with each language requiring a unique workflow. Languages such as Cambodian, for instance, were challenging, as it is not supported by OCR nor a translation kit," explains president V. Bharathram, whose team has worked with more than 50 international languages. "At times, we used the handwriting option in Google Translator to draw and find the exact character in a specific language. Using native speakers for proofreading, which is often the solution for such projects, is not a viable option. Aside from the fact that it was too costly, the tight deadline and budget simply did not allow sourcing such resources. But our team was creative in finding solutions and delivering the project on time and budget."
The team was also tasked by one client to quality-audit an archive of typeset files done by several production houses. "The huge volume and extensive coordination with multiple stakeholders across different time zones required our team to automate the management process, further resulting in substantial time and cost savings," says Bharathram, who reports a significant increase in quality-auditing projects in recent months. "Our analytics team was then able to generate reports speedily, which helped our client to rate their production vendors and highlight recurring issues."
Its RightsPlatform software solution was exactly what a major client needed after struggling to manage rights through a mix of spreadsheets, databases, and a simple reviewing tool. "By implementing RightsPlatform, the client has greater control over preferred vendor spending, deeper rights data capture and storage, and a cleaner workflow accessible to all stakeholders," explains executive director Krishna Tewari, adding that another client uses RightsPlatform to control rights expenditures for heavily designed products. "It allows their designers and editors to search through the archives of 20 approved suppliers of images and illustrations, and pinpoint the exact images that they need. It takes out a lot of frustration and saves time spend searching. Our pay-per-use model also lowered the cost of the research for the client."
On the assessment side, the team has been working in ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, CLEP, and other assessments. "In cases where our client provides raw item-response data, we use it to understand the psychometric properties of successful questions, and then create item generators that use the properties to create new assessment items. This gives test preparation and education providers the capability of providing students and users endless practice at precise learning levels," Tewari explains. "We can still use automatic item generation to create large banks of assessment content if psychometric data is not available. For one university client that is preparing students in a premed program, for instance, we delivered more than 5,000 questions. The faculty selected some for use in the course, and banked the rest for extra practice and for a new product. We completed those questions in just five weeks."
Building new interactive digital learning content for a Eurasian school system was the complex project at Magic Software last year. The challenge was to ideate, conceptualize, visualize, and build engaging content for K–12 students to learn languages, mathematics, and science while keeping in mind the nuances of local culture and languages. Subject matter experts in various disciplines and local language and culture were brought in to conceptualize the gamified content. "Our team put together the stories, characters, games, and assessments on a templated platform—available on Windows, iOS, and Android devices—to create large variants of the content to accommodate microlearning," says COO Anuraj Soni, whose team of learning architects created training modules for teachers and administrators on using the content in schools and helped the schools roll out the solutions across the country.
Another major project involved a custom technology solution for an American education company that sells online schooling and curriculum to state and local governments. "Our team defined the framework for digital learning objects using Google Web Components, and brought in various new generation technology tools in order to deliver new standards-compliant learning content to a wider market. We explored new HTML5 frontiers in the context of learning effectiveness and delivered the components, unit tests, quality control frameworks, and development process guidelines within the timeline given," Soni says.
The deployment of DigiCore, MPS's cloud-based digital publishing platform, was instrumental in getting several publishers' projects on track. For one prestigious physics society with 50,000 members, help was needed in managing its huge pool of freelance copy editors and contributors. The MPS team started by preparing specifications, development, and mapping the society's copy editing functions. "Then we implemented WordEditPro and TeXEditPro for structuring, pre-editing, and conversion of manuscripts to XML. Next, the house styles and journal requirements were categorized into automated, semiautomated, and manual activities. This was followed by DigiEdit implementation for copy editing along with DigiComp for auto-composition and proof verification, and lastly, we rolled out our new MPS Trak for workflow tracking, automated routing, alerts, and dashboard reporting," CEO Rahul Arora says. "Through these steps, we eliminated the need for TeX/LaTeX-literate editors, and skip PDF annotation while editing—thereby eliminating transfer of corrections—and the results are consistent quality output, effective version control, and reduced turnaround times and manual exchanges of manuscript files."
In another DigiCore implementation, this time for a major STM journal publisher, the turnaround times for page proofs were reduced from five days to between 24 and 48 hours, depending on journal discipline. Another STM publisher also benefitted from similar implementation in which DigiEdit was customized to the JATS (Journal Article Tag Suite) DTD, copy editing functions and other requirements while the entire DigiCore platform was deployed through AWS Cloud.
When one of the largest North American publishers launched a major initiative to look at potential opportunities in building efficiencies in their editorial operations, it started an extensive vendor-evaluation program. Newgen was selected based on its subject-matter expertise, technology capabilities, and commitment in editorial processes. The transition program was completed after nine months.
Similarly, when a small academic publisher decided to identify a long-term partner for a virtual editorial, production, and marketing office to smoothen its workflow, build efficiencies, and double its production, Newgen was chosen for its extensive experience in academic publishing and author-handling capabilities. The project was successfully rolled out with the publisher achieving substantial reduction in costs and turnaround times without compromising on quality.
By applying its new product Jet to a journal publisher's project, the SourceHOV team was able to automate the identification and extraction of required metadata from accepted journal articles. "We were able to get the completeness and correctness required for getting a header ready for content aggregators way ahead of time. Through Jet's automated process, we were also able to get consistent quality output while reducing operational costs, which was a major saving for the publisher," says Nakul Parashar, v-p for enterprise content management. "Jet is found to be applicable to a larger number of points in the publishing process of a book or a journal. Some clients have enquired if we could use this at the peer-reviewing stage while others wanted blocks of content extracted to create end-of-chapter assessments. So Jet, in essence, simplifies and speeds up the end-to-end editorial and production processes."
For a full-color French magazine for health professionals, the team used a XML workflow in which the contributors can change or modify their articles up to the very last minute prior to publication. "Such collaborative cloud-based workflow accommodates editorial constraints while at the same time offering the benefits of full-text XML," says executive director Vinay Singh, whose team processes around 8,000 pages using the workflow and is set to increase the volume at least threefold in the near future.
A pilot project for one major trade publisher, on the other hand, saw the team delivering 106 titles two months ahead of schedule. It involved creating templates, scanning, page composition, and quality review. "The challenge in this project was to understand the requirements, customize the tools and applications, and deliver within a short duration. However, we were not only able to achieve the milestone but deliver ahead of schedule with the required quality, thereby winning customer's confidence and trust," Singh explains.
Westchester Publishing Services
For academic publisher Mary Ann Liebert Inc., which needed to present more video content in the digital editions of their journal articles, the Westchester team worked to leverage the best method for displaying videos (such as medical procedures) directly from the journal content. "This capability that we embarked upon for the publisher was later used to help support another client, New York University Press, when they needed to embed video content into one of their ePub titles," director of business development Tyler Carey explains.
For its many STM and trade clients, the team has implemented various digital solutions such as inserting print-edition page numbers in ePubs for following along with classroom assignments based on print editions; embedding scrollable tables and timelines to make for a more efficient reading experience; inserting links to a publisher's online study space; configuring image overlays and pan-and-zoom to allow for closer inspection of images in texts, where a deeper understanding of the visual content is needed; setting up ePubs to hide or show summaries, sidebars/boxed texts, study questions, quizzes, and other secondary/ancillary materials; and embedding extra public domain content that is relevant to a title, especially an academic text. "The above functionalities tend to cross from one segment to the next, and all our clients stand to benefit from one another," Carey adds.