Everything is different, and yet the same. Think about Polaroid cameras, which were first replaced by digicams and later smartphones for snapping instant photos. Or vinyl records, which gave way to compact discs and then to iTunes. Or clunky desktops—and, increasingly, laptops—which have fallen out of favor in this age of tablets and handheld devices.
New gadgets will appear and replace the old ones, but the main purpose that these products serve remains very much the same, albeit in a much faster, often less costly, and definitely slicker way. This goes for the digital solutions industry as well: publishers and providers are racing to find the next quicker, cheaper, and more seamless technology, workflow, or platform; their shared goal invariably involves delivering quality content to consumers.
But, as markets and consumer preferences continue to shift and evolve, industry players have to restrategize, reboot, rethink, and rebrand their business operations, models, and objectives again and again. (And, as the resurgence of Polaroids and vinyl records has shown, sometimes the old stuff does fulfill certain market needs.)
Plateauing E-book Sales
Hindsight is always 20/20. “Ten years ago, if you had told a room full of publishing executives that e-books were going to decline and that print, and even independent bookstores, would see a resurgence in 2016, I think there would be plenty of raised eyebrows,” says Tyler Carey, the business development director of Westchester Publishing Services.
But the industry, Carey points out, is adapting to the correction. “The renewed focus on digital—not as the salvation of the publishing industry but as a tool towards achieving success with traditional products as well as those that have survived the emergence of new formats—is something that publishers have gotten right,” Carey says. “Certainly, making print books look and feel better than they did 10 years ago is something that benefits the readers, publishers, and publishers’ partners as we work collaboratively to help create better print products.”
The plateauing e-book sales in recent months have necessitated innovation, especially at the content level. “We are seeing a demand for richer and value-added content, which is not limited to texts and graphics. Storytelling is becoming a completely immersive experience through the use of images, videos, and semantic tagging. AR and VR are going to be a part of that very soon,” says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for marketing and presales at Impelsys.
Streamlining and automating processes to reduce manual intervention is crucial in bringing down production lead time to enable shorter time to market, Majithia adds. “These call for innovation of more evolved, smarter, and more intuitive content,” he says.
Complementing, Not Competing, Formats
Many publishers have embraced a digital-first model on the assumption that the next generations of consumers will be so tied to devices that they will access educational content, read, and be entertained only through such devices. “But the market itself is not uniform,” says Vidur Bhogilal, the vice chairman of Lumina Datamatics. “Readers of trade books move back and forth between print and e-books. Education consumers still spend heavily on print, and not necessarily on new editions. Digital products in education are not standardized, and there is little agreement on the ideal modes of learning. Our clients are not only navigating a print-vs.-digital conundrum; they are also seeing imports, used books, rentals, and exchanges deeply cannibalizing traditional sales.”
Many publishers also assume that they have to offer highly interactive content in order to retain core users and attract new and young consumers, adds Bhogilal. “But, for most parts, readers are not going to Hachette, Penguin, and HarperCollins for gamified or highly interactive e-books on their devices. They go to these companies for great stories and information.”
Hurix Digital CEO Subrat Mohanty says publishers are on the right track when they take digital seriously as a business and not a cost center. “Their readiness to upgrade publishing workflows for agility and optimization and their strategies to enable book distribution and subscription digitally and online are laudable,” Mohanty says. “But the notion among some publishers that e-books will kill print revenues has a different side to it. Digital does not compete with print; it complements it. E-books and print books work symbiotically to drive revenues and engage readers.”
E-books have not supplanted gaming or video or other modes of entertainment and information gathering, Bhogilal says. “Nor have they been swept away by these media,” he adds. “In education, the book is used not only to inform but also to develop a skill. A book can contain laboratory instructions but will never replace a laboratory. It can never replace the hands-on experience. So the question remains: are there better ways of using digital techniques of teaching, learning, and experiencing to accomplish these tasks?”
Empowering (Renewed) Digital Initiatives
The publishing industry “has gotten clever with how to use digital products not just as an alternative offering but as one that complements the print edition by allowing readers to download chapters as marketing samples, or to tide readers over till the physical book arrives when ordered online,” says Carey, of Westchester. “No doubt all of these will keep changing, and print and digital will have their peaks and valleys in the coming years, but it is good to see the alternate channels complementing one another.”
Carey is also seeing many clients looking to establish pre-edit tagging that offers consistency within their copyediting pools upstream and a way of achieving more consistent digital assets downstream. “This dovetails with another trend that we are seeing: academic publishers moving towards template designs for list consistency, shorter production time, and faster review cycles,” he says.
Digitization has certainly changed the ways in which products and services are produced, marketed, and consumed. And nowhere is this more profound than in the media industries. “Consumers now expect to find information about past and current events, genealogy, and entertainment, for instance, on the internet,” says Amit Vohra, CEO of Continuum Content Solutions. “For us, optical character recognition analysis of scanned images and the addition of metadata to digitized files are the two biggest aspects that affected our business. Aggregators, for instance, have been developing contextual search-based databases for subject-specific researchers and helping students and researchers connect the dots between the present and past.”
Going digital and mobile is the right stance despite the challenges in e-book sales, says Majithia, of Impelsys. “A print title without an e-book version will lose half of its audience today, now that people are comfortably reading e-books and other content on mobile devices, which are growing exponentially every year,” he says. “But there has to be a unified process and holistic approach—towards authoring, editing, reviewing, and composition, for instance—in creating different deliverables. If we think of print and digital as totally unrelated processes, then it will be double the work, time, and cost.”
For Mohanty, of Hurix Digital, it is essentially the book reading experience that has turned publishers to digital publishing. “While the romance of print books continues, nowadays book readers are also book listeners, and this has opened up new avenues for multimedia-rich e-books,” Mohanty says. “And, as the audience becomes global, new ways to deliver books in multiple languages is now a business need. A read-aloud feature in different languages, for instance, is being talked about and considered. Meanwhile, HTML5 is now the de facto online content standard that ensures responsive content in any device and operating platform for seamless reading experience.”
Pushing HMTL to the Forefront
Increased usage of HTML editors by publishers to generate content is certainly a great move forward. “It frees up the limitation set by licensed software while offering real-time collaboration to speed up the production process,” says Vinit Khanna, the founder and CEO of OKS Group. “Publishers are also adopting fluid content creation and moving away from creating digital products from printed books. This switch to ‘content chunking’ allows publishers to pick and mix and create multiple products with much greater flexibility.”
Meanwhile, digital strategies in science and scholarly publishing should go much deeper. “For instance, even though more journals and periodicals are being published as e-only and with Open Access, there is still a high dependency on PDF-based deliverables,” says Rahul Arora, CEO of MPS, pointing out that HTML5-based composition is gaining traction.
Increasingly, content is packaged as data, which seems to be resonating with consumers. “There is a significant focus on user experience and providing better and more efficient tools to authors and researchers,” says Abhigyan Arun, CEO of TNQ. “These are the big positives. However, STM publishing is still stuck with PDF, and does not seem to have a clear way out, even though the primacy of HTML is well established.”
TNQ has always been pushing HTML as the backbone of publishing services, calling for single-URL publishing in recent years. “This year, we hope to stitch all the components to make single-URL publishing work end-to-end, covering submission, peer review, content revision post–peer review, proofing, and publishing and beyond,” adds Arun. (TNQ spoke about the transition from PDF to HTML alongside speakers from the Rockefeller University Press and Academy of Pediatrics at the recent annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing.)
Innovating, Monetizing, and Protecting Content
Arora, of MPS, sees a progressive trend of smart innovation in enriching and harmonizing content to improve discoverability. “The movement from document-based to asset-based workflows is another,” Arora says. “Then there are digital-first workflows backed by subprocesses such as online authoring and peer reviewing facilitated by cloud-based workflow management systems. All these trends are good for both digital solutions and publishing industries; increased adoption of them will be even better.”
In the STM segment, Sriram Subramanya, the CEO of Integra Software Services, finds that the publishers are constantly challenged by the need for shorter turnaround time and the cost of making their research content immediately available for scholarly consumers. “This has led to simplified content layout and editorial style guidelines, and increased automation in the workflow process,” Subramanya says. There is also an apparent struggle in fixing the taxonomy and metadata tagging to aid content discoverability. In the near future, publishers may need to create compelling videos and visually attractive, self-explanatory articles to aid researchers who are finding it difficult to reproduce the experiment methods and results from the journal article.”
STM publishers have been historically good at monetizing their online products, says Arun, of TNQ. “Open access has opened up another business model where the author becomes the customer, which brings in additional challenges that force publishers to rethink the way their products and services are delivered,” he says.
Evolving U.S. legislation on accessibility and diverse state-by-state standards have also created several new requirements that publishers must meet before schools will consider purchasing their materials. “New technologies, from adaptive learning platforms to data analytics tools, have transformed many publishing businesses into technology companies, requiring them to provide customer service as they support and train educators and students to use new tools,” says Waseem Andrabi, senior director of global content services at Cenveo Publisher Services, adding that “student demographics have shifted in recent years, and students want engaging qualities in their digital products.”
“While industry disruption in these three areas—legislation, technology, and student demographics—presents new challenges to publishers, it also offers new opportunities,” adds Andrabi, whose company published a recent report, “Six Big Trends Reshaping K–12 Education Publishing,” on its website.
Digital rights management is something that is working great for publishers, adds Vohra, of Continuum Content Solutions. “DRM imposes some technological restrictions that control what users can do with the digital media,” Vohra says. “For instance, a song can be listened to, but not copied or shared; an e-book can be viewed only on a specific device; a single-player game can only be played with authorized internet access; or an email that cannot be forwarded. In other words, DRM creates a ‘defective’ product, which completely satisfies the copyright protection needs.”
Overcoming Fundamental Outsourcing Issues
Now that digital publishing has matured, publishers are not reaching out to new vendors as much. “They are consolidating existing vendors, which makes life difficult for vendors that are trying to expand and add new clients. Margins are slimmer than ever, and quality and turnaround time have become the key differentiators between vendors,” says Indira Rajan, the CEO of Lapiz Digital Services.
But, with new products released annually, the demand for new skills and implementation of new (or different) technologies often comes into play. “Selected vendors are often not at liberty to turn away such new projects, and have to put in their bids. What happens then is vendors losing focus on their expertise and putting in tremendous effort in building something new. For instance, editorial houses may end up bidding for digital services when their resources are editors who have little understanding about a digital product,” adds Rajan. “In such cases, publishers will stand to gain so much more—in terms of expertise, turnaround time, and costs—if only they segmentize their vendors according to core expertise. But, since this has not been carried out properly, we are seeing a slower-than-expected shift to digital products for the industry.”
Price pressures and services perceived as commodities continue to drive the publishing industry. “Search engines have given users, theoretically, the ability to find the information they think they need,” says Andrabi, of Cenveo Publisher Services. “Many nonscholarly publishers, particularly newspapers, have published content for anyone to read—in the misbegotten hope of selling more online advertising. But publishing is a complex process, with many of its functions unknown to the average scholar or reader.”
The obvious costs of publishing—content creation, peer review, editing, art and design, permissions, production, XML transformation, metadata management, and image validation, for instance—are daunting. Adds Andrabi: “Publishers understand that to remain competitive with user expectations, speed to market is critical. But balancing the need for speed with editorial validity and accuracy is becoming more important with each passing day.”
Understandably, publishers are having difficulties coping with market shifts and consumer demands. “The tendency to change content at the final stages of the product puts unrealistic pressure on vendors,” says Khanna, of OKS Group, adding that many in the publishing industry have not fully grasped the complexities and resulting developmental costs from the migration to digital publishing. “Higher expectations and increased demands for solutions will come with higher costs—and that is normal.”
Now, let’s take a closer look at 16 companies (in reverse alphabetical order) to learn more about their strategies to meet the above challenges while fulfilling market expectations and demands. This review—which covers randomly selected companies with different strengths, and does not imply our endorsement—is meant to help you in your search for the most suitable partner or partners for your digital publishing initiatives. As always, know what your company really needs and do your due diligence.
Westchester Publishing Services
The expansion at Westchester’s Chennai production facility in the past year was “due to more projects from major trade houses, university presses—including Harvard University Press and MIT Press—and SSTM publishers,” says business development director Tyler Carey, who has hired more LaTeX specialists to work directly with clients to roll out LaTeX templates. “Our New Delhi team has also expanded with more key clients—our so-called India Direct Full Service accounts—while branching into new areas such as editorial and design services for trade houses.”
Westchester’s acquisition of Kinetic Publishing Services last October, adds Carey, “is positioned to help fulfill stateside design and production demands. We have also launched a new division for the K–12 educational market. To support such expansion, we have hired industry veterans Tim Cross, formerly of the Council of Science Editors and Allen Press, and Kevin Gray, previously with Cenveo Publisher Services and MPS, to join our executive team. Marie Brown, founder of Brown Publishing Network, has also joined us as editorial project director.”
Meanwhile, the company’s cloud-based Client Portal, which is overseen by technology director Michael Jensen, is now up and running, “allowing clients to have better transparency on each step of their projects so that they can have greater confidence in our services and better access to their projects,” says Carey. He adds that he sees “technology such as Client Portal as a tool to facilitate production workflow. We have automated every aspect of the production workflow that can be ‘scripted’—but not those elements that would make a difference between high-quality production assets and marginally acceptable assets.”
Westchester’s key differentiator is that its emphasis “is on quality products that our clients focus on: print, consumer digital products, and XML,” Carey says. “We are cautious in investing too much effort in tools that often fall short, such as XML round-tripping for complex titles. Such tools, especially at this stage of software development, tend to have fragmented adoption that rarely addresses the whole swath of a publisher’s needs. We see ourselves as offering more reliable and versatile solutions instead of resorting to one-size-fits-all technology products that may not be the answer to different project types and publisher demands.”
TNQ has launched the HTML-authoring platform AuthorCafe and Proof Central 3.0 in the past few months. “Proof Central is now a complete freestyle editor with its functionality extended significantly, including the insertion of references and citations,” says CEO Abhigyan Arun, adding that “it remains the only proofing product in the market to seamlessly work across multiple vendors of a publishing client and maintain full XML integrity with its interface.”
While on-the-fly browser-based pagination remains elusive to the rest of the market, Page Central is drawing even more adopters. “Two-column typesetting with complex styles are now handled with much improved accuracy,” says chief scientist S.K. Venkatesan. “With Page Central, typesetting can be done only once after proofing, and not before and many times over as it is done now. It has enormous potential beyond our production, and we are exploring these opportunities and expecting to make some major announcements later this year.” One major TNQ client is already expanding its adoption of Page Central, and another is likely to implement it within the next the few months.
Recent years have seen TNQ’s technology services extensively adopted by the Sheridan Group, for which the team has created a dedicated offshore development center. “Sheridan continues to push our products and services in the U.S. market, and, now that it has been acquired by Bang Printing, we also have an opportunity to service its book segment,” adds Arun, who has found a new customer in Hindawi, one of the top three open access publishers in the world. TNQ is also investing heavily in an efficient LaTeX workflow, which has been adopted by some of its key clients.
Operationswise, its European office has expanded, with Gary Scott (v-p for products) and Sunil Nasit (director of business development) joining managing director Yakov Chandy in London to strengthen its business development and relationship management. Back in India, the one-year-old Coimbatore production facility “does not just provide business continuity to our clients, but allows us to harness the abundant talent pool available there,” says Arun, who is also focused on expanding the company’s business relationships with various Indian institutions.
As for the annual lecture series that TNQ cosponsors with Cell Press, the Inspiring Science Award for the best published life sciences paper from India was very well received, and is set to become a standard feature in future editions of the series.
Quick Sort India
Last October, Quick Sort India established a U.S. office in Boca Raton, Florida, and launched its cloud-based HTML5-authoring and -publishing workflow, QuickFlow. Different QuickFlow modules are aimed at content creation, peer review, developmental editing, copyediting, indexing, galley proof generation, and deliverables. “It also features automated issue collation and version control,” says v-p for sales John Lavender, adding that “QuickFlow is a complete one-system production process that enables seamless collaboration between authors, reviewers, and production staff.”
QuickFlow offers features such as built-in tools for autocomposition, indexing, and generating tables of contents; automated built-in reference builder; article-by-article and issue-based collation; and restricted production tracking for quick decision-making, allocation, reallocation, and monitoring of articles. “It is reliable and scalable while significantly reducing time to publication, manpower, and training costs,” adds Lavender. “We showed QuickFlow to one of the largest open access academic publishers in Europe, and they immediately wanted to integrate it with their internal system for better author-proofing workflow. From the ongoing beta testing at the publishing house, QuickFlow has already proven to reduce multiple iterations of review, shortens the turnaround time, and increases the quality of articles delivered.”
Meanwhile, president A.R. Nallathambi is focused on setting up dedicated technical teams for each department to identify opportunities for automation. “Our mission is to deliver 100% error-free deliverables through automation. We are also relying on our internal nonconformance procedure to provide inputs on automation.” The company’s XML-first workflow, for instance, offers automated application of styles and specifications to enable faster production cycle, covers autogeneration of validated XML, and integrates with any enterprise systems.
Last year, Nallathambi and his team worked on a major educational project for a developing country that spans three subjects for three grades. “Taking into consideration the local culture when devising the content is paramount. We put together a dedicated team of teachers and professors from reputed schools and universities both from the country and overseas. We also hired several academicians for our office to coordinate with these teachers and professors, and monitor the content quality and project progress. At the end, our client decided that Quick Sort India delivered a much better product than their previous collaborator, which is a leading publishing company.”
Escalating production costs and decreasing prices—with margins down 40% to 50% over the past five years for the industry—have driven OKS Group to further automation. “This applies not just to our publishing solutions but across all areas within the group,” says founder and CEO Vinit Khanna. “The emphasis on technology-enabled solutions means enhancing existing tools and creating new ones that deliver better efficiency, accuracy, and turnaround time while reducing dependency on manual labor.”
Such enhancements are aplenty in OKS’s cloud-based workflow platform, E2E, which is now compatible with all web browsers. Its built-in reference manager, configured for The Chicago Manual of Style, is easily switched to styles of Vancouver, Harvard, APA, and MLA. Customization of math equations in PDF output, automated spell-check, underlined word errors, and reuploading of updated images, for instance, have significantly shortened the workflow. “Autostyling of content, a paste-from-Word function, and author/affiliation plug-ins further simplify the process. With E2E now ‘live’ with a leading academic publisher, our task is to figure out new and better ways to help editors collaborate seamlessly and efficiently regardless of location and time zone,” adds Khanna.
Meanwhile, its MarkSharks “flip classroom” learning apps—for math and science in grades 7–10—have been downloaded more than 250,000 times. “We have moved from offering free apps to a subscription model,” says Aditya Tripathi, CEO of OKS Education. “While the content continues to be well received by teachers, students, and parents, getting consumers to pay for it is always a challenge. But we are learning how to monetize the apps using a combination of digital marketing, consumer engagement, and outbound calling.”
Tripathi and his team have also started customizing MarkSharks’ content into Hindi. “Aside from reaching more students, the Hindi version allows us to collaborate with local government organizations and foundations that are working with students who are more comfortable using Hindi.” An experiment with a Massachusetts school has also seen students translating and dubbing some MarkSharks content into Spanish for a summer trip to Peru, where Peruvian students will be tested on their math and science responses.
For Khanna, going beyond the traditional markets and reaching new audiences is a major goal in 2017. “We are also looking out for collaborative, integrated and multidimensional partnerships,” he says.
The expanded version of MyOwnBook, Newgen’s workflow management portal, was launched last year. “It further simplifies the management of books and authors, and is a viable solution for all book types—from simple to complex—by a single author or multiple contributors,” says Tej P.S. Sood, executive v-p for global business development and strategic partnerships, adding that the portal’s detailed dashboard schedules and monitors each milestone between manuscript and publication so that everyone working on a particular project is informed and in sync. “The dashboards also keep the production work cycle on track, and these can be programmed to send out alerts with key dates or information.” Its JAWS Evolve solution has also seen more advanced and feature-rich releases in the past year. A journal-publishing platform that integrates article submission, peer review, and production processes, JAWS Evolve was, for instance, deployed when a midsize publishing company in the social sciences required an end-to-end publishing solution. “It enables a publisher to manage the entire journal production workflow, including third-party aggregator portals,” explains Sood.
JAWS Evolve, Sood adds, “allows immediate interaction between authors, editors and reviewers during manuscript development and review stages. It streamlines the communication through predefined review forms, email messages, and notifications.” Furthermore, the platform’s Word-based copyediting framework is linked with the client’s composition engine, which helped in expediting the production process through an XML-first workflow.
The peer review management systems module in JAWS Evolve competes well with the likes of the Aries Systems Editorial Manager and ScholarOne, says Sood. “The module integrates seamlessly with the production system of a company, big or small,” he adds.
On the other hand, sister company Newgen Digital Works offers customized digital marketing solutions for publishers, as well as bespoke web-based applications for various publishing processes. “The idea is to make the publisher’s internal processes more lean and mean,” adds Sood. “We are not moving away from providing services to clients, but technology is now playing a much bigger role in our business model. In the past, we used technology primarily to serve our clients faster, quicker, and more cost effectively. Today, we are licensing our technology solutions, such as JAWS Evolve and MyOwnBook, as platforms or products, and use these internally for projects as well.”
In January, MPS announced its partnership with the French company Gutenberg Technology, which develops and provides online and mobile technology solutions for publishers. The move, says CEO Rahul Arora, “allows clients from both companies to create, modularize, and publish interactive courses at an industrial level—not just on tablets and smartphones but also in print and on the web.” As a preferred technology partner, MPS now has access to Gutenberg’s MyEContentFactory 7.0, a cloud-based SaaS solution that facilitates simultaneous print and digital deliverables. The acquisition of Utah-based Think Subscription, which provides subscription management and fulfillment solutions, was finalized recently.
The team has also substantially revamped MPSTrak, the company’s cloud-based management workflow platform, to improve its stability and performance when handling enhanced user loads. “We have successfully completed a proof of concept with an independent European academic publisher—which has over 1,300 journals and numerous digital products—to implement MPSTrak as their production tracking and management system; and this is now in the process of being rolled out across a larger portfolio there,” adds Arora, whose team has implemented ScholarStor, a component from its DigiCore publishing platform, for a U.K.-based provider of nursing and health information solutions.
Both MPSTrak and DigiCore have been continually enhanced and improved over the years. Ad hoc reporting, notification, and reminders have been added to MPSTrak, which now integrates with RightsLink system and enhanced APIs to expose workflow actions. “Reports can now be generated—without restrictions—by selecting the output parameters dynamically while automatic reminders can be set up for any user at journal, issue, or article level during the production process. What we can capture, we can report,” says Arora, pointing out that “this gives publishers a much greater flexibility in reporting.”
Meanwhile, DigiComp, an automated component within DigiCore, now supports InDesign Server and HTML/CSS for server-based composition workflow. Its rules engine has been significantly upgraded to increase accuracy of automated page proof generation and automated validation of generated PDF proofs with exception-based routing.
And MPS ScholarlyStats, which provides libraries and institutions with powerful content usage analytics, now supports the Sushi plug-in for third-party integration and single sign-on while offering Counter 4–compliant reports. The clear analytics, Arora says, “will point out focus areas for more ROI and better e-resources utilization, making it an indispensable tool to help librarians make data-driven decisions and save time and money.”
Providing and enhancing production-based solutions has always been central to the growth of Lumina Datamatics. For instance, CAPS (Content Authoring Publishing System) now has new modules to handle both journal and book workflows. “CAPS also has industry-specific features to make it usable by different verticals such as legal publishing,” says vice chairman Vidur Bhogilal, adding that MarketWatch, a price-intelligence solution that monitors price, inventory, and promotions, “is now gaining traction with publishers as well.”
Expansion into nonproduction areas in order to offer the full publishing value chain is driving the company forward. “We have formed partnerships that will support us in servicing clients in areas such as human resource management, marketing, and sales,” explains Bhogilal. One such partnership is with Germany-based Readbox, a sales and marketing company that distributes and promotes books. “It is about leveraging our strengths: Lumina Datamatics will take Readbox solutions to our existing clients while we approach their customers with our production solutions.”
Another partnership produces HandyTrain, a mobile-based training platform that enables users to take up training sessions at their convenience. “It offers cloud-based modules and the ability to track learning ability and learner progress with built-in analytics,” adds Bhogilal, whose team is busy exploring ways to “integrate products such as HandyTrain and MarketWatch into partner solutions so that the overall benefits derived from the integrated solutions are multifold.”
Through development from the ground up, customization of solutions, or enhancement of existing solutions, the team is now capable of handling the entire range of software requirements for publishers. “We have added new skills to our resource base to serve the publishing space, as well as ‘borrowing’ from our group companies that are into pure-play software development,” Bhogilal says, adding that “while there are many software development companies across the globe, they lack industry-specific knowledge to help publishers. For Lumina Datamatics, we have both industry expertise and software skills, and so we are stepping in as a one-stop solution provider.”
Increasing the value that the company offers to clients is the goal, says Bhogilal, “and this is made possible through new partnership formation and continuous solutions development. Several new large-scale projects with major publishers—signed or currently in discussion—prove that we are on the right direction for sustainable future growth.”
Lapiz Digital Services
There is a trend toward content creation and a huge requirement for writing content for websites, says CEO Indira Rajan. “Recent months have seen our team writing abstracts, white papers, and various articles to enhance our clients’ digital presence.”
On the other hand, Flash-to-HTML conversion projects, which have been a specialty at Lapiz in recent months, are slowing down. “But content services are picking up, and publishers are busy updating their web-based contents to make them HTML5-compliant,” adds president V. Bharathram. “Flash-based e-courses are getting re-evaluated, with activities converted to HTML5. Our clients have been revising coursewares to suit the latest e-learning principles, and we are busy with content rewriting, instructional designing, and item generation.”
In the children’s book segment, Lapiz is seeing more translations. “Publishers are looking to translate e-books into European and Indian languages, and so we have been doing a lot more e-books in languages such as Hebrew, Arabic, and Indic,” says Bharathram.
Last year, the Lapiz team developed a Moodle-based CMS with various e-tools specifically targeted at publishers who are looking to leverage—and further monetize—their print content. “We are now selling this Moodle-based CMS to small and midsize publishers, and editing and rewriting their content to suit online versions prior to uploading to their CMS,” Rajan says.
Its completely automated quality control/quality assurance tool for auditing other vendors’ projects is now foolproof, says Bharathram, whose team is now selling this tool as a product to other publishers. “One of the biggest challenges with projects coming from other vendors is the lack of file consistency. Each vendor has their own production workflow, and, at times, client specifications are not followed. This is where clients turn to us for QC/QA tests to ensure that all output is compatible with their specifications in order to make a perfect archive. Our tool has now been tested on various inputs and is fully tweaked to handle all and any input inconsistencies.”
Meanwhile, a new Tiruchirappali facility is now open, and the 100-plus personnel there will be focused on “content services such as copyediting, instructional design, and course authoring and development,” Rajan says. “This is in line with the demand and inquiries that we are seeing from publishing clients.”
Integra Software Services
There has been significant expansion at onshore and offshore facilities at Integra. Its Illinois office now has a vice president to oversee key strategic accounts, as well as more senior managers to handle project management and editorial development functions. “Servicewise, the U.S. team has added assessment writing and customized content for school and ELT segment to its portfolio,” says managing director and CEO Sriram Subramanya, whose company also operates out of Middlesex in the U.K. and Yokohama in Japan. “Our strong offshore digital capabilities and onshore content services is an attractive mix for the school/ELT segment, which is becoming one of our focus areas.”
In India, its Pune center, for instance, is focused exclusively on project management for European customers, “and has the capabilities to handle production and content creation, and will be expanded to service clients from other regions soon,” says Subramanya. The Pune team, made up of German-language specialists, handles projects in the academic and STM segments. “Our latest facility, in Bangalore, is dedicated to providing content services for one multinational educational publisher, and will support upstream services in content creation and assessment writing for other publishing clients.”
Both the Pune and Bangalore centers, he adds, are purposely created to accommodate specific client needs. “We planned these scalable centers to closely work with our clients and help create successful content while meeting their newer, nicher needs.”
Meanwhile, Integra’s digital and e-learning services center is now a 120-strong team that offers content and support in accessibility, VR, AR, MR, platform services, QA/testing, video production, and mobile learning services. “Integra is focused on emerging workflow requirements such as digital-first, digital-only, and mobile-first solutions to augment client requirements,” adds Subramanya, reiterating his emphasis on R&D and technology “to enable these solutions, integrate onshore/offshore workflows, and managing digital assets as a part of the workflow solutions that we provide.” His cloud-based authoring platform, iAuthor, for instance, enables seamless collaboration among relevant stakeholders while delivering various print and digital products for multiple channels.
“We are also looking at encouraging startups in the education technology space, nourishing talent, and transferring the benefits of our experience and expertise to our core clientele in the educational segment,” says Subramanya, whose company won the silver award in Training magazine’s Learning Design Challenge (mobile category) for its Human Anatomy app. (Integra is also a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and was recently recognized as one of the best 100 companies for women in India.)
New features in iPublishCentral 8.0, Impelsys’s flagship content delivery platform, is making it better than ever. “The Reader applications can now render journal content, and we are implementing additional journal-specific features at the portal level in a phased manner,” says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for marketing and presales. The Reader, he adds, “can now impart comprehensive analytics on user behavior in offline mode, providing publishers with an in-depth understanding of how downloaded content is consumed.”
There are also more add-ons to support enterprise content and learning delivery initiatives. “Through our past collaborations with content creators and learning providers, we have a better understanding of organizing and delivering online learning to support enterprise-grade professional development initiatives. We are now offering some of iPublishCentral’s essential platform features as stand-alone SaaS-based solutions,” adds Majithia.
These “micro-services” cover on-demand analytics (from iPublishCentral Insights), cataloguing record services for libraries (EZ MARC), online/offline reader capabilities (iPublishCentral Reader), and a content production workflow and automation suite (iPublishCentral Gears). “The need of the hour in the publishing industry is tailor-made technology services and operational efficiency solutions that can be seamlessly integrated into the publisher’s existing digital infrastructure. This is where our microservices come in,” Majithia adds. “Essentially, we are now reconstructing the iPublishCentral platform as an open-architecture solution whereby individual features can be offered as cloud-based microservices to help publishers optimize their production workflow.”
Impelsys’s courseware development services have also expanded greatly in the past year. The team has just completed a professional learning pedagogy design and course development project for one of the world’s biggest health-care equipment manufacturers. “The courses are running ‘live,’ assisting medical practitioners and technicians with day-to-day challenges,” says Majithia, whose team has effectively leveraged the experience gained in instructional designing and delivering online courses for professional and academic associations to offer courseware development services to enterprises operating in the health-care segment.
Regional and local partnerships forged in recent months have been positive for Impelsys. “Our partnership with Bogota-based Hipertexto, for instance, has helped us to penetrate Spanish-speaking territories. Quite a few deals have already been completed, and a dozen Colombian publishers have implemented iPublishCentral. Continuing on with this strategy, we have just initiated partnerships in the Eastern European and the Middle East regions,” says Majithia, whose team is now powering digital initiatives for two of the biggest universities in Romania.
The realignment of Hurix Digital into two distinct units—Education and Publishing (led by division president Srikanth Subramanian) and Enterprise Solutions (under CEO Subrat Mohanty)—is a natural progression for a company that has been working with major educational publishers and global organizations for the past 16 years.
The enterprise division will focus on providing digital content and mobile solutions with its flagship product, Kitaboo, serving as an interactive e-book platform for academic publishers, schools, and institutions. “We have continued to upgrade Kitaboo: the reader now supports reflowable ePub with functions such as text highlight, notes, search, font-setting, night-mode reading, full-text search, and page zoom features,” says Mohanty, adding that these features enhance the experience of reading on devices while enabling active engagement with the learning content. “We are now working on a pen tool with additional colors so that there will be five color options on our interactive Kitaboo e-books.”
Kitaboo has won yet another Brandon Hall excellence award—four years running now—for its innovative training solutions. A cloud-based publishing platform, it offers end-to-end solutions including interactive and rich multimedia content authoring, immersive simulations, serious games, video-based learning, and training apps that are optimized for mobile experience. “This award recognizes Kitaboo as a leader in mobile learning technology with features that allows institutions and corporations to seamlessly collaborate, share, and publish interactive content in real time,” Subramanian says.
With its cloud-based digital publishing and mobile solutions used by more than six million people from 20-plus countries in over 15 languages, Hurix Digital has parlayed its insights and expertise into developing DocketZoom. “A cloud-based tool for real estate professionals, it provides realistic digital walkthroughs of properties and shares pertinent property details with interested buyers. This goes beyond traditional print collaterals, reduces carbon footprint, and delivers fresh multimedia-rich content at the client’s fingertips,” adds Mohanty, who is bullish on the growing adoption of cloud and SaaS technology in education and corporate/enterprise sectors.
“Now that mobility has become a necessity for brands and businesses, device-agnostic responsive content that delights consumers on their preferred devices has emerged as an essential go-to-market strategy. Cloud-based publishing is on the rise, and HTML5 and ePub3 are revolutionizing e-books. At Hurix Digital, we will continue to upgrade Kitaboo Cloud and DocketZoom as we go forward,” says Mohanty.
Populating client LMS with rich media assets and managing complex composition and conversion projects have kept DiacriTech busy. “The simple assessments of previous years are no longer appropriate given the changes in the entire LMS ecosystem. Many LMSes now have AI and data analysis to enable adaptive learning experience, challenging users with appropriate iterative content and assessments based on their learning capabilities,” says executive v-p Mahesh Balakrishnan.
Print products are still being produced as the industry moves toward rich media or HTML5-enabled ePubs, adds executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath. “The ePub-based contents that are being delivered online are accelerating learning outcomes through a rich and interactive experience,” Gopinath says. “They supplement the print products.”
But sometimes the going-digital vision gets lost along the way. “Some publishers shrunk their digital strategy into one of simple e-book delivery, while others spent so much on rich media enrichment that the margin became untenable,” Gopinath adds. “A right mix is essential, and digital initiative should run parallel to print products to add value for the audience, heighten user engagement, and bring in the profits.”
At DiacriTech, investment in new technology has continued unabated. “We have set up a digital experience center for clients to better understand immersive technology and its application in the field of education,” adds Balakrishnan, pointing out that his company has subject matter experts in various areas “who can prepare assessments in multilayered complexities, and make them algorithmic for iterative experience. We also have experienced staff with teaching background to tag the appropriate content to enable AI on client’s LMS system.”
The digital publishing space is immense and the opportunities unlimited, says Gopinath. “It was previously PCs and tablets, and now we have a plethora of handheld devices. Then it was Flash, and now we are moving to HTML5 and ePub3. Publisher and user expectations have also grown with these new technologies. At DiacriTech, we are associated with companies that are spending big money in future technologies exclusively for school publishing. The focus is not merely on simple interactive content but sci-fi-type development that can open up inquisitive minds. And, at the end of the day, only inquisitive minds can lead to a creative society full of innovation and development.”
Continuum Content Solutions
Specializing in newspapers and magazines has differentiated Continuum Content Solutions from other digital providers in the market. ContinuumX—its robust, agile, and seamless solution—and the team is busy collaborating with aggregators of newspapers and magazines around the globe.
For example, the team produces digital replica plus (DRP) files and digital PDFs with a unique identifier to ease file tracking for one major magazine publisher. “These files are then placed on various magazine storefronts,” says founder and CEO Amit Vohra, whose team also created customized article-based XML and images with coordinate information for a European aggregator. “The information allows for easy export to multiple channels, and we deliver the article files in a way that they display on all mobile devices.”
Continuum’s integrated workflow, adds Vohra, “seamlessly imports documents, and provides easy click-and-structure content extraction—according to headline, preamble, images, and body text, for instance—by selecting the autogenerated boxes in the desired reading order.”
The workflow also offers a number of built-in export formats that can be activated simultaneously to various channels, Vohra explains. “We deliver article files in a way that they display on all mobile devices. The workflow covers Replica Map XML for Amazon, RePub for Google Play, and Prism and other XML formats for magazines.” At the same time, accurate and proof-checked XML clips can be produced in 30–60 minutes. Latin and non-Latin language capabilities have also been added.
“Industry dynamics have shifted, and revenue streams are either all-new or expanded by the possibilities of the internet and digital evolution. Contemporary newspapers and magazines, for instance, are mostly converted into ePub3 and DRP formats that are specifically developed for mobile and tablet devices. Historical newspapers and magazines, on the other hand, are converted into analyzed layout and text object [ALTO] in combination with the Metadata Encoding and Transmission Standard [METS]. The latter is used by universities and libraries with their CMS or document management system [DMS],” says Vohra, adding that the emergence of digital platforms and technologies has made the newspaper and magazine segment more complex. “Just as OCR analysis of scanned images has improved, and metadata is now a critical part of digitized files in recent years, Continuum has similarly evolved and expanded to meet client requirements and industry shifts.”
Publishers are increasing the volume of digital content that is made available, and much of this revolves around their backlists, says CEO Ed Marino. “At the same time, there are initiatives to improve time to market, and better data organization and structure to support those digital initiatives.”
As it turns out, Marino adds, “these are all related to one major goal: improving the topline. There is pressure on publishers to drive revenue, and CodeMantra is helping in several ways, starting with listening to the publisher and making sure we understand their goals, priorities, and pain points.”
It is about solving the challenges and providing the desired results, and automated content production has a lot to do with it. “While many companies talk about automation, CodeMantra has taken it to a new level,” Marino says, pointing out that his team “has built technologies that perform the functions of content processing, enrichment, and transformation. We can pass that content through our processing engines, speed up production, and improve quality of deliverables. This facilitates getting content to market faster while making more digital content available at lower costs.”
Next comes collaborative workflow management. The team is currently working with publishers to implement software platform solutions that manage the production workflow, from content submission through the entire production processes. “Our technology, for instance, manages all aspects of collaboration, communication, file handling, project control, and so on—and is a part of our CollectionPoint [CP] framework,” says Marino. “Publishers can use it to move content to market faster while improving the overall author experience and simplifying the collaborative submission-to-production process.”
Metadata hub comes next. To address the need for better organization and structuring of data in support of publishers’ digital initiatives, CodeMantra has enhanced CP’s metadata management features. “We can support a publisher’s need for a metadata hub by ingesting metadata from a variety of sources, efficiently packaging the content and making it available for distribution,” Marino adds. “This has many benefits, including being the sole source of truth and consistency of metadata. Regardless of how many sources and formats are involved, a metadata hub solves many significant problems for publishers who want to bring more digital content to market.”
Cenveo Publisher Services
In August 2016, at the annual meeting of the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP), Cenveo Publisher Services partnered with Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination on a project called Sprint Beyond the Book.
“In just 72 hours during the meeting, authors, scholars, digital publishers, journalists, service providers, and technologists came together to create and produce a book that explores important topics on the future of scholarly publishing,” explains marketing director Marianne Calilhanna, whose company helped bring the university directors to the meeting. “We also provided developmental editing, copyediting, and production support as the content was developed and turned into an e-book.” (At this year’s SSP Annual Meeting, Cenveo Publisher Services donated print and fulfillment services to the society in its ongoing support of scholarly and academic publishing.)
Four months ago, Cenveo’s peer review management services were launched. Journal publishers, says Calilhanna, “depend on the peer review process to validate research and uphold the quality of published articles. Our deep expertise in scholarly publishing means that our team is fluent in all peer review models as well as the nuances of major peer review systems.”
A new edition of Cenveo Mobile was also launched. “Apps are going out of style, but digital editions are still required. The ‘flipbook’ style of content is passé, and not useful on iPads or mobile phones. The latest Cenveo Mobile iteration provides an HTML5 backend that can be experienced like a flipbook or replica, or in a responsive newsfeed mode—which is a much more comfortable user experience,” says Calilhanna, adding that it is now WCAG 2.0 AA–compliant to meet all accessibility needs.
Cenveo Publisher Services, Calilhanna adds, “is a champion of digital equality and that translates into helping publishers ensure that their content is accessible for people who face barriers to reading printed materials. We are partnering with Benetech, a nonprofit organization that leads the ‘born accessible’ movement, which is about to launch an accessibility testing program.” (The partners will present a PW-produced webinar, “Digital Equality: The Importance of Accessibility in Your Publishing Program,” in September.)
Meanwhile, its Publisher’s Office and Design Studio continue to provide editorial, production, and design solutions to scholarly and academic publishers, with a focus on editorial quality. “We recognize that setting the bar for turnaround times is still important for our customers, but not at the cost of sacrificing excellence in editorial services,” says Calilhanna.
IT has always been the core expertise at the decade-old Aaltech Group. “We are now focused on providing end-to-end ERP solutions such as large-scale public projects involving digitization of museums and universities, and nationwide IT training programs,” says director P. Shivaalkar, whose company recently provided all enterprise resource planning solutions to a wholesale clothing manufacturer that has 26 factories, 300 production lines, and 50,000 workers, and produces an average of seven million pieces of clothing per month.
Taking advantage of the technology is the key to maintaining Aaltech’s competitive advantage, adds Shivaalkar. “We have capitalized on our IT expertise and publishing experience in order to move into governmental projects—here in the Indian subcontinent and beyond,” he says. “We are now working on a core solution for a banking group and about to start on an e-payment solution for one Indian state government. We are diversifying into different verticals that allow us to leverage our core expertise.”
Aaltech has also been busy expanding its services and clientele beyond Europe and the U.S. “Our marketing and business development teams started to look at the Middle East market only about six months ago, and we are already working with one of the largest services providers in Saudi Arabia,” says Thiru Baskaran, Aaltech’s Chennai-based v-p for business development, who also has an office in New Zealand.
The team is focused on making sure that clients reap the benefits of digitization and new media. “Communicating the need for the shift from print to digital is crucial. Publishers also need to understand the values of going digital wherever the opportunity arises: advertising their digital content in their print publications, having advertisement space in their websites, creating value-added articles in their blogs, and putting content-related videos in their YouTube channel, for instance,” explains Baskaran. “The plan to digitize the print edition—or having supplementary digital content—must be communicated early, often, and focused on the benefits to the consumers or readers. This should be the main goal for a winning digital strategy.”
Adds Shivaalkar: “We understand the need for digital transformation as well as the importance of each content format. We are here to blend and create alternative revenue modules for publishers based on their existing and old content.”