Now that the worst of the financial crisis is past, the mood is one of the optimism laced with rational exuberance. Publishing clients in the biggest market—the U.S.—are back on board, busy developing new titles and content, and asking for new products, solutions, and workflows. Over in Europe, where certain countries are still in dire financial straits, publishers are starting to award more projects to India-based vendors now that they have seen the advantages of outsourcing hitherto internal processes.
Business has certainly been brisk for the vendors. They are looking into acquisitions, setting up new divisions, or establishing offshore offices. The big publishers have already parceled out their projects and appointed their favored vendors. But the market is not just about the big 10. Everywhere—in the U.S., Europe, and Asia—medium and small publishers are flourishing. So, too, are independent publishers and society publishers. Then there are self-publishers (who have been springing up like mushrooms after the rain), the corporate world, media agencies, and institutional libraries sitting on mountains of assets waiting to be digitized. In short, there is a great deal of potential work lying around.
For vendors, knowing what the client wants is key. But perhaps a better question would be: do the clients know what they want? It seems like anything goes at this moment; requirements can be anything from bespoke to templated, specialized to homogenized, simple to complex, text-based to design-intensive, software-driven to service-oriented.
So there is a plethora of services and products on offer from every vendor. Being the indispensable extension/partner/arm of a publishing client is the ultimate goal. The whole point is to rethink and re-engineer the process to bring something fresh—and profitable—to clients’ that will catch their need of the moment. In addition to the concept of cloud delivery, we now have “gamification,” content discoverability, flipping the classroom, and, of course, big data. (It is definitely not going to end there, so let’s just go along with the flow.)
Last year’s big topics—EPub 3, CSS3, HTML5, cloud, and apps—continue to hog any content transformation dialogue, while vendor expertise in the different formats, layouts, and standards, like iBooks Author, Inkling, Blio, KF8, Mobi, DAISY, NIMAS, Common Core, to name a few, is considered a given.
For publishers—small or sizable, independent or otherwise—the following 22 companies have the power to help transform your content to serve the new world of e-books, apps, tablets, mobile devices, and clouds. This review—purely unscientific in approach and not rubber-stamped with our endorsement—is totally discriminating, featuring only those vendors with at least half of their business derived from the publishing industry.
There are even more companies that PW missed due to clashing schedules or because they did not appear on our radar. For sure, India is full of new and innovative vendors waiting for a chance to prove themselves. But whichever vendor(s) you choose, you must do your due diligence because only you know what works best for you.
AEL Data Services
Lektz was recently launched as a hosted SaaS product for small and medium-sized publishers. “It offers both free and paid models whereby publishers can sign up to create their own branded e-bookstores, upload PDF or EPub e-books, encrypt them using Lektz DRM, configure their own payment gateway, and then start selling the secure e-books,” adds Bikkani, pointing out that end users who purchase these e-books can download the Lektz e-reader for free, sync with up to five devices online for the downloads, and start reading online and offline.
Another capability that differentiates AEL Data Services, with 600 employees, from the others in this report is its support for the Arabic language. “We offer full-fledged publishing solutions for Arabic with an XML-first composition workflow, e-book conversion, apps, and e-book development for children’s books as well as DAISY support,” Bikkani says. “We even have a Lektz Arabic e-reader for iOS and Android. To date, we have converted several hundred thousand Arabic titles into e-books, and we support nearly 10 large and medium-sized Arabic publishers using Lektz. Additionally, we have delivered CMS [content management system] and LMS [learning management system] solutions to these clients,” says Bikkani, whose team has built a mobile e-bookstore app for a Turkish client. Another XML-first composition workflow project saw the team processing more than 5,000 titles in various languages, including Arabic and Southeast Asian languages. “We have a team of five native Arabic speakers based in Tunisia and another in-house team of 15 Arabic language experts at our Chennai headquarters,” says Bikkani, whose initial Arabic team in 2010 consisted of only three people. “For the first project, our Arabic samples were compared to those from native-speaking service providers in Jordan and Lebanon, and our quality of work and competitive pricing won the client over.”
For a company known for client satisfaction (ranked #7 in the 2010 Black Book of Outsourcing and the only publishing services provider in the top 50), understanding publishing clients from different verticals and knowing their specific needs remain Amnet Systems’ top priority. Its Florida office, for instance, is headed by sales director Mitchell Freiberg, who has been in the publishing industry for more than 30 years, both as a vendor to publishers and as a publisher himself: “I understand what clients need, and I’m helping to pinpoint those needs and to identify personnel or companies that would be great partners. We recognize the value of alliance and the need to focus on the big picture. So, for now, we continue to focus on our primary markets in the U.S. and Europe. We are growing consistently in these territories, and we believe that tremendous potential still exists there.” Freiberg also expresses the same high hopes for HTML5, as evidenced by the array of HTML5 applications recently developed by his team. “There is great potential for HTML5 in the content industry. This can encourage magazine publishers and educational institutions to digitize their publications in HTML5—back issues or new ones—for distribution within closed subscriber networks. This benefit of platform independence has seen many adopting HTML5, especially when the content can be monetized directly through their own portals.”
The next big thing at Amnet is offering technology, either in the form of tools or products, or as part of its services. Freiberg notes that these developments don’t come from separate R&D teams but from those working directly with customers: “This dovetails neatly into our strategy for consciously pursuing a 3S model, i.e., services, solutions, and support.”
Animation and multimedia are another vertical focus at Amnet. “We have completed pilot episodes of two 3-D animation series called Sirji and Bumblee, the Hero, both targeting six-to-12-year-olds. We are currently discussing with a few domestic [Indian] media companies for a licensing deal to telecast these edutainment series on domestic TV networks.” Freiberg adds that his team has the skills to meet the production requirements of other global media groups to produce and develop their intellectual property. “Amnet can offer animation production as a service or serve as a coproduction partner. Our capabilities cover 3-D and 2-D animation, e-learning animation, corporate learning modules, and course development.”
Cenveo Publisher Services
Mobile dPub, Cenveo Publisher Services’ device-neutral browser-based e-book reader is currently used by more than 60 publishers worldwide. Several enhancements have been added to this software, including the integration of Pinterest into the platform, says senior v-p for sales Jeff Statler, adding, “A new analytics, Metrics, has also been built from the ground up to provide the most relevant and detailed analysis possible for a publisher’s content.”
As for its e-book capabilities, the team now offers a publish-and-distribute model directly to major e-booksellers without needing to go through a middleman or aggregator. New enhancements include media overlay that highlights text as it is spoken by the computer or as part of a soundtrack. “Such a feature is beneficial for people with a physical disability, or for children who prefer listening rather than reading the book,” adds Statler, pointing out that another new feature, Media Query, which is added in CSS3, allows content to be tailored to a specific range of output devices without having to change the content itself.
Statler continues to see traditional content services evolving to use cloud-based technologies: “We have invested significantly in tools and systems to provide two types of cloud-based solutions: a rapid, templated, and highly automated production model and a more customized production solution. These allow staff in the publisher’s office to generate finished typeset pages in a matter of minutes, review the quality of the pages, and finalize them to be sent to the author.” Additionally, the completed Collaborative Web Proofing system, built with Adobe LiveCycle ES, now provides authors and editors with robust comment submission and convenience. “It provides flexibility for authors to save changes and resume review at a later time, and scales easily for future customer-driven modifications. Phase 2 of CWP will enable the Adobe Shared Review feature.”
Atul Goel, senior v-p for global operations and technology, says, “Our team offers the fastest possible speed to publication while maintaining the highest level of consistency and quality. By leveraging our proven automated processes and technology, we provide our publishing partners with a comprehensive service and technology platform. We continue to see significant growth in our full-service business as publishers seek a single-source solution.” Currently, Cenveo operates through four facilities in India—Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and Delhi—and four additional sites in the U.S. “Our goal has always been to act as an extension of the publisher, helping them to solve day-to-day issues, but also to collaborate with each of them in getting their content to market more quickly.”
The recent strategic alliance with ePubDirect, an international full-service e-book distributor, has 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,” says Walter Walker, codeMantra’s executive director of publishing services. “The back-office accounting systems of ePubDirect can handle tens of thousands of transactions a day and provide codeMantra customers with competitive revenue sharing along with some of the most versatile and robust retail reporting available.”
Meanwhile, Walker and his team are busy adding automated fulfillment protocols and dynamic metadata validation tools to cP (collectionPoint) 3.0—codeMantra’s trademarked Web-based digital asset management and distribution platform—in order to alert publishers to missing essential metadata required by key retailers and channel partners. Customized cP Title Management modules have been developed for the University Press of Mississippi and IMF Publications. As for PubXML, codeMantra’s multipurpose approach to XML, work is going on at the University of North Carolina Press to develop an XML workflow that will culminate in automated composition. “We are seeing more customers incorporating XML into their production processes. The notion of XML-first has evolved into XML-wherever-practical.”
Walker says the company’s position as a supplier of publishing solutions and services “is best captured in its current mantra of ‘from manuscript to market.’ With the addition of high-end composition, project management and editorial services, we now see ourselves as a full end-to-end player. We can deliver all along the publishing value chain, managing workflows to produce both print and digital outputs simultaneously and finished goods to the market.” Capitalizing on the global e-book awakening and increased traffic and opportunities in Brazil and Mexico is on Walker’s to-do list: “We see customers retaining and even acquiring foreign rights and funding translations for e-book editions.” Walker adds that 2013 will be a year of expansion for codeMantra. “We are moving deeper into new territories such as Latin America and Europe, acquiring customers and building our distribution capabilities. We continue to improve and further develop the functionalities within cP 3.0, making it a more robust and efficient platform with which to manage an end-to-end production workflow. We are also looking into acquiring or building and integrating more XML-scripted production processes to improve efficiencies and capacity.”
Known formerly as Planman Technologies, the new name, Contentra (and its colorful logo), represents the company’s focus on content transformation services and expanding its service lines. “We have been a trusted partner for the book publishing, library, and news industry, and Contentra plans to take its content transformation expertise to newer markets and industries,” says president Amit Vohra, who is currently stationed in the company’s new U.S. office in Cincinnati, Ohio. “We view organizations in all industries as content publishers that have unique content life cycles and extraordinary amounts of content to be created, repurposed, and distributed. Working with these publishers has broadened the scope of our services, and, as such, the new name reflects our new capabilities and specialized offerings in transforming content.”
One of its new capabilities revolves around iBooks Author. “We have been working on iBA projects since last April, four months after the application was officially launched. Since then, our dedicated team has developed a number of iBA titles, which are also available on iTunes. In general, when it comes to iBA projects, publishers do expect a greater scope of interactivity through widget creation and usage for features such as photo galleries, multimedia, keynote, review, and animation. In recent months, we have witnessed a growing trend in integrating HTML and 3-D widgets in iBA projects.”
Fixed layout format, he adds, “has gained popularity due to the influx of high-definition tablets such as iPad with its retina display. Even Readium, launched by IDPF, has helped access to books in the fixed layout format on PCs and various devices. Looking at all these developments and the stance of publishers around us, it is clear that digital is the future. But that does not mean print is dying out. In fact, everywhere that we look, publishers are strategizing on digital products along with print offerings.”
Working with Common Core standards is another of Contentra’s new goals. “We have developed numerous language, arts, and mathematics titles in Common Core, and written specific material, including assessments, that meets the standards. The math standards are more challenging because of the way the concepts are presented, and the continuation of that presentation throughout the grades.”
This year’s goal, adds Vohra, “is about creating awareness of our brand. We remain the same dedicated people providing the same quality service, albeit with a new name.”
Datamatics Global Services
Few companies have successfully entered the legal publishing segment (and prospered), but Datamatics has done it using specialized teams to support processes such as statutory and secondary law content enhancements, summarization, and content tagging. “A dedicated team of lawyers trained in different U.S. state jurisdictions is part of this workflow,” says Krishna Tewari, global head for digital publishing and media solutions. “Having established European production centers to support non-English law content services, we have now expanded our legal services to European countries.” One annual project sees Datamatics supporting statutory content enhancement of more than 35,000 sections for a leading legal content publisher. The workflow, established about five years ago, has been instrumental in reducing time-to-market and the client’s cost by more than 40%.
The legal analysis process for the project is especially tedious. For instance, it requires the team to analyze the effect of new legislative changes on existing statutes, research for cross-references and other relevant connecting notes, and checks whether any conditions specified for a legal provision to be effective have taken place. The team also checks the annotations and makes alterations accordingly to reflect legislative changes, searches for uncodified information if required, and drafts notes to ensure up-to-date information. Maintenance work on obsolete data and subsequent search to place the annotations in a comparable or re-enacted section is also carried out. Currently, the print products from this project are being developed alongside e-books in an XML-first process.
The past few years have also seen Tewari and his team working on self-publishing engines. “Most of the self-published writers are first-time authors, and they usually do not understand the impact of text layout and other aesthetic e-book elements. So our main task lies in making sure that the content gets transformed into e-books that look professional and high quality.”
In the pipeline are new service lines, additional products, and new auto-conversion engines to support publishers and corporations. The CIGNEX-Datamatics division, for instance, is working on products and services to handle big data within the publishing segment. The team is helping a leading educational company in the U.S. to utilize the data for millions of pages residing in their archive. “We are also collaborating with some leading publishers on new workflow management systems for their internal use. A new launch will be a white-label reader for the Android platform that will utilize the complete set of EPub 3 features. We will be at major international fairs with dedicated offerings for specific market segments.”
Several innovative products have given diacriTech a big boost in the competitive industry. InXML, its patent-pending true XML-first software for InDesign, for instance, enables full round tripping of math. “It is DTD-agnostic so that validated XML based on client’s DTD or schema is integrated into the InDesign application prior to pagination. Styles are then automatically applied using client-approved template or design,” says executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath, adding that math equations in MathML are also converted on the fly using such client-preferred plug-ins as PowerMath, InMath/mtEditor, MathMagic, or MathType. “InXML automatically takes care of nested styles, multiple master pages, character styles, image placement, and other design elements. It is a unified digital workflow that provides multiple outputs such as print PDF, EPub, XML, Word, NIMAS, HTML5, and iBooks Author–compliant files.” Currently, 100% of diacriTech’s InDesign projects are done using InXML.
Another exciting product is Universal EPub, which creates a single EPub file that can be used on most EPub-based e-readers. “This helps our clients both in keeping things simple by creating and maintaining one EPub file, and in cost savings since the e-book needs to be created only once,” adds executive v-p B. Mahesh, whose team is using Universal EPub to publish a lot of scientific content for an American university press. This workflow has solved a lot of the client’s math rendering problems, enabling delivery of math content in two formats: as MathML on devices that support the standard, like iPad, or as images for devices that do not support MathML.
Then there is the high-performance, portable, and dynamic viewing program developed by the team to enable users to read e-books online and offline on desktop computers, Android, and iPad, says Mahesh. “The user can open, view, and manage all e-books in a format similar to PDF with a user-friendly graphical interface. Dynamic reading, annotation features, and excellent portability enable readers to take their e-reading library anywhere. It offers a secure multimedia experience.”
The array of new products is the result of a shifting industry in which publishers are seeking new ways to develop content and to create intriguing designs and interactivities, adds Gopinath. “Universal EPub and interactive learning methods in HTML5 are hot topics. So companies that can package both in a way that seamlessly delivers the products on multiple platforms and enables control so that the intellectual property is not lost will win the day.”
DiTech Process Solutions
Radical aptly describes CEO Nizam Ahmed’s decision to launch STUDYeBUDDY in February. “I see it as a natural evolution of the digital services that DiTech Process Solutions has been providing. This platform certainly differs from others in the market, especially its delivery model, which has built-in B2B capabilities that offer both subscription and retail options. Our primary market is educational institutions that offer customized e-content packages by subscription. Customers can also purchase the e-books on a perpetual access basis.” The platform includes specially designed apps for content downloading, robust search features, secure access, and a DRM system. And Ahmed has put in a sales force of 117 to promote it.
The February launch, attended by 40 publishers including SAGE, Cambridge University Press, Tata McGraw-Hill in India, and Wiley India, has since garnered a lot of interest from academic publishers looking into distributing their content in India. Ahmed, currently in various stages of contractual discussions with these publishers, plans to furnish the full list of partners on the STUDYeBUDDY Web site by June.
“There are currently 100 million active Internet users in India, and this number is expected to go up to 237 million by 2015. So the potential market is huge. At the same time, we have ensured that our e-books are accessible both online, through any browser-enabled device, and offline, through iOS and Android apps. We have clearly defined target consumer segments, and we are only talking to schools and institutes whose campus ecosystems meet our criteria. As for participating publishers, e-book access is not a problem. Their concerns mostly revolve around piracy, security, and revenue sharing, issues that we have addressed fully in our discussion with each potential partner.”
For institutions and libraries, the subscription module offers very attractive pricing terms coupled with easy access to wide-ranging content from local and international publishers. Adds Ahmed, “STUDYeBUDDY is a direct result of our constant search for innovative solutions and continuing R&D in publishing services. Our goal is to support publishers and help them understand and overcome technical barriers while tapping into new market opportunities and novel avenues to monetize their content.”
Gantec Publishing Solutions
Creating new revenues from existing content is becoming a big challenge, says CEO Ramana Abbaraju. “Publishers are increasingly under pressure to create new products and consumer experience, develop new packaging for digital content and find new revenue streams. Some publishers have done pretty well in accomplishing these goals, while others are still trying to find their feet in the new digital world. As for technology, the adoption seems faster with smaller publishers, as they have a lot more flexibility in experimenting with new ways of doing things. And this is where eBooks2go and Gantec come into the picture.”
Twenty-two months after its inception, Gantec’s new division, eBooks2go, has firmly established itself as a portal for the self-publishing community with more than 600 new authors in all genres added to its list last year. “Helping authors with e-book conversion is eBooks2go’s main function, but it also provides a host of other services centered around empowering budding authors with all the tools they need to realize their goals. Interestingly, it has also become an e-book conversion house for publishers of all sizes. We have more than 100 publishers using eBooks2go now, and their products range from simple e-books to highly complex fixed-layout formats with audio/video, interactivity, animation, and other enhanced features. And we serve not just the usual trade and fiction publishers. We have legal, medical, cookbook, magazine, and journal publishers working with us,” adds Abbaraju, acknowledging that the growth rate of over 100% is mainly due to eBooks2go’s new presence.
As for parent company Gantec Publishing Solutions, last year capped a period of new markets and products. “We are making inroads into the Asia Pacific market with a recent content development project from a major Thai publisher for math and science products for grades one to six. We are also developing new products for publishers and magazine companies for content distribution through mobile devices. Our PDF-based catalogue reader app for the iPhone and iPad, for instance, has attracted a lot of attention with such features as two-page viewing, pop-ups, internal/external links and shopping cart integration,” adds Abbaraju, whose team has also built a cloud-based e-reader bookstore and an accompanying app. It has been implemented for several new publishers, including a few in Singapore. “We are expanding our activities in Malaysia by setting up our eBooks2go operation there.”
Harbinger Knowledge Products
Best known for innovative instructional approaches and technology-based content development for self-learners, HKP is the only educational company in the world with patents on technologies related to rapid and social interactivities. “We develop instructionally sound single-user interactions in learning experiences. We also enable the content to become socially connected. These patents not only demonstrate HKP’s thought leadership in learning interaction but also our vision of effective and cost-efficient learning,” says executive director Jayant Kulkarni, whose team develops content for all types of digital learning, and for the classroom, physical and virtual. “Interactive and collaborative learning content is our focus, and the innovative approach and rapid production taken to achieve this focus is what differentiates us from the other suppliers out there.”
Responsive design and interactive e-books are going to be the next big things in the industry, adds Kulkarni, pointing out that HPK, having already ventured into these emerging areas, is observing great demand. Another direction his team is looking in is cloud-based content development and distribution platforms. “This will change the whole game for learners as well as for publishers in terms of easy access, large content storage, portability, and trackability across multiple devices and platforms. It will be the ultimate state of learning anywhere anytime.”
For Kulkarni, 2013 is looking great. “Our R&D and investments in HTML5 and solutions such as HTML5/XML framework, Flash-to-HTML5 auto-conversion, HTML5 and EPub-based interactive e-books, native/HTML hybrid apps, responsive design and cloud-based delivery workflow have already seen great demand. We are poised to deepen our relationships with Fortune 500 and Global 1000 customers in interactive digital content development in the publishing and corporate sectors.”
Such innovative and forward thinking approaches have netted HKP numerous accolades. It was awarded gold in the games and simulation category at the 2008 Chief Learning Officer’s Award, a finalist in the 2009 and 2011 E-Learning Award (U.K.), won the platinum and gold awards in the 2009 and 2010 LearnX (Australia) respectively, and was recognized by Red Herring as one of the top 100 most innovative companies in the world in 2009.
The 14-year-old HKP is a part of the Pune-based Harbinger Group, a global provider of software products and services, established in 1990. It has more than 500 professionals worldwide and derives 60% of its business from the U.S. with another 30% coming from the U.K./Europe.
Hurix’s decade-old experience in the e-learning and e-book segments is captured in two major platforms: Kitaboo, for legacy content conversion into e-books, and Dictera, for creating digital-first content such as interactive material, learning objects, and customized courses. Both products, says CEO Subrat Mohanty, seek to solve two core interrelated problems in content creation. “On the one hand, educational publishers need to create cutting-edge digital products and content that provide a compelling and engaging user experience to students who are digital natives with high expectations. On the other hand, these digital products are not bringing in revenue, so balancing cost and ROI [return on investment] is an uphill battle. Both Kitaboo and Dictera seek to solve these issues by providing very high-end products or outputs at affordable price models that strive to keep cost and investment low through process efficiencies.”
For their client Grupo Anaya, a part of Hachette Livre, for instance, Kitaboo allows the publisher’s entire e-book strategy to be streamlined across 16-plus publishing units located in different territories. “Kitaboo is integrated into [Hachette Livre’s] ERP system to provide centralized reporting and on-demand production. We also provide a secure USB e-book distribution solution using time-limited licenses,” adds Mohanty, whose team recently converted more than 35,000 pages for Oslo-based Gyldendal through Kitaboo’s cloud-based solutions. Currently, Hurix supports nearly 20 languages, with Arabic joining the list in the coming weeks.
Dictera, on the other hand, was relaunched in January as a content development and management platform. “Managing the content development process and projects is just as challenging as creating compelling and interactive HTML5 content. With multiple, geographically dispersed stakeholders, project managers are like traffic super-cops. Getting feedback on interim deliverables is time-consuming and usually inefficient. Since most projects hit a bottleneck at the management end, we decided to include the content development process in Dictera as well.” Now publishers using Dictera can tailor their production workflow to mirror their internal production process. Further, a highly intuitive WYSIWYG tracking tool allows editors to easily log and track projects while additional project management reports and dashboards ensure that projects are on track. Alerts are provided for those requiring further attention.
Interestingly, while Hurix started as a game-based learning company, this segment now contributes barely 5% to its business. “The emergence of the digital classroom, digital devices, and cloud-based solutions is a major factor causing the shift [away from game-based learning]. An increased need for coordination and communication across regions for some multinational companies requiring a 24/7 project management support system is another factor.”
Integra Software Services
Digital services and e-learning are moving to the forefront at Integra, based in Pondicherry. A comprehensive range of digital solutions for the k–12, higher-ed, STM, and vocational segments as well as for corporations is available. “HTML5 and apps development, IWB [interactive whiteboard], 2-D/3-D animation, audio-video production and postproduction, LMS, simulations and game-based learning, and assessment solutions are right up the digital alley for us,” says managing director and CEO Sriram Subramanya. “New features in CSS3 and HTML5 semantics have enabled us to develop rich features for interactive Web applications, games, assessments, and e-learning courseware in addition to converting content from Flash to HTML5.”
His team, for instance, has created 175-plus e-learning modules that enrich tutoring programs for the k–12 segment. Recent months have also seen the team creating more than 50 modules of IWB science and mathematics courses for American schoolchildren, and 1,200-plus learning objects/animations as well as 3-D photo-realistic modeling and rendering for virtual learning. As for audio-video production and postproduction, the team has delivered more than 450 learning videos for online and DVD delivery as well as over 50 hours of learning audio in various languages. “These are just some examples of the type of high-caliber digital projects that our experts can handle from start to finish for clients,” adds Subramanya. “Often, the ideation takes place at our U.S. office, while implementation is carried out here in Pondicherry, supported by a 75-strong production team. The focus is on creating cost-effective digital content that suits clients’ requirements, and that any digital content created is compliant with global industry standards such as SCORM, TINCAN, and AICC.”
“As a solutions provider, we must move up the value chain by acquiring new services and building critical skills to handle the new services—and we started doing this three years ago. At the same time, we are taking the cues from clients to move the design process upstream, and integrating digital and print design to take out redundant activities as well as to offer support in repurposing various elements in their content.”
In addition to digital and e-learning services, Integra has been busy setting up centers specializing in text/photo permissions and photo research services. The team’s multilingual capabilities have been rapidly expanding in content production as well. “Among the 2.1-million pages of EPub conversion that we handled between 2011 and 2012, more than 30% were in European languages. We also composed and typeset nearly 200,000 pages in these languages during the same period.”
With digital and print workflows merging, it is important for a digital vendor “to be competent not just in the print workflow but also in fulfilling any digital requirements that customers may want in order to stay in the business,” says CEO Indira Rajan, adding that in educational publishing at least, digital-first is not far away. The industry is becoming more IT than IT-enabled, she adds, “and soon content will be in an agnostic format that can be accessed on any type of technology or device. Publishers are looking for a simple way to have a neutral yet highly flexible format for multiple devices. The most important criterion for the solution would be the ability to produce highly structured content with all the critical features such as media enhancements, dynamic and flexible layouts, and accessibility. Digital solutions providers like us will then be called on to add embedded assessments, interactivity, video, simulations, games, and so on to the content to personalize it further for the student.”
Meanwhile, e-book conversion has become a complex task of using one single solution to make multiple deliveries on different devices. Says COO V. Bharathram, “There will be ever-increasing demand for e-books. As shown in Aptara’s recent annual e-book survey, 65% of the publishers out there have converted less than half of their backlists into e-books. So there is still a huge number of backlists out there, lying around in PDF or hard copy.”
Bharathram adds, “The next market focus for e-book publishers and digital solutions companies will be Japan, China, Russia, and India. These are territories where e-books have not made major inroads. In Japan, for instance, manga dominates the e-book market, and eventually we hope to have the opportunity to do conversion for segments other than manga.”
The only major publishing-services player listed on India’s stock exchanges, MPS Limited has seen a dramatic increase in its market capitalization over the past year due to a surge in revenue and profits. “We acquired a great company with a rich legacy from Macmillan and have successfully turned it around. We have also built a strong suite of products and services with organic growth well underway,” says CEO Nishith Arora, who is evaluating acquisition opportunities to develop an even stronger presence in the publishing services domain. MPS currently employs 2,600 people and has a large production footprint in Bangalore, Chennai, Gurgaon, Delhi, and Dehradun in India, with an office in Portland, Ore., in the U.S.
With more than 42 years of dominant presence in the industry, MPS has evolved to offer every stage in the author-to-reader publishing process. Platform solutions are Arora’s current focus. “In addition to our book distribution platform, ContentStore, we have launched ScholarStor for journals and reference content, which has a manuscript submission and peer review system. Most significantly, we have upgraded our MPSTrak routing and tracking system from one for journals only 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,” explains Arora. Another platform, MediaSuite, now supports HTML in addition to Flash, and delivers a variety of mobile formats. Content can be developed on this platform and pivoted to classrooms and all types of whiteboards.
“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 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. “Our robust delivery model built on an automated workflow and strong quality control system has proven successful in attracting a large inflow of business from existing clients and new partners.”
Newgen Knowledge Works
2012 was another year of extension and experimentation for Newgen. “All of our clients produced more books and articles than in previous years, but ‘extension’ in this context was not simply of output but of output formats and outsourced services,” says president Maran Elancheran. “During the year, we increased the amount of development editing and content creation upstream of the traditional outsourced workflow, and the number of clients for whom we handle the downstream process of print management.”
In addition to its existing portfolio of development work in professional and academic law and medicine publishing, Newgen has recently added educational work, with the acquisition of Connecticut-based NETS, a leading full-service provider of k–12 materials for teachers and students. “NETS offers editorial, art and design, composition and prepress, 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.”
The extension of mobile requirements, on the other hand, drove two large projects for Newgen in 2012. “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 lot 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 digitization project made use of our proprietary conversion software, Silk, which was relaunched in a new version, Silk Evolve, at Frankfurt 2012,” adds Elancheran. Silk Evolve extends the original software from English to European languages and from EPub 2.0 to EPub 3.0 output, taking full advantage of the revised specification’s support for audio-video, SVG, MathML, multiple navigation tables, and many of the new CSS3 and HTML5 properties.
Backlist conversion of books was big at Newgen last year, from bulk conversion to customized enhancement and app creation for individual titles. Fixed layout e-books were high on many publishers’ wish lists, as were titles created using iBooks Author, according to Elancheran. “There is a risk that the proliferation of formats and the lack of a common standard could lead to fragmented workflows that only Heath Robinson [a Rube Goldberg–like British cartoonist] could have imagined, but one strong theme emerging in 2013 is that now is the time to re-examine production models and the centrality of XML to the production process—a theme to which Newgen will return in its panel at the SSP Annual Meeting in San Francisco in June.”
Ninestars Founded in 1999, Ninestars made its name globally in newspaper digitization services. To date, it has digitized nearly 2,500 newspapers—both archival and current content—as well as books in multiple languages, including Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Japanese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Converzia, Ninestars’ Web-based conversion platform, can be used for any format to generate XML, EPub, Mobi, and HTML5. “Clients can place their orders, review the finished work, and finalize it for delivery through the platform, which is entirely online,” says Michelle Harold, v-p for global sales, pointing out that Converzia can also be integrated with a publishing client’s in-house workflow. “Publishers also get value-added services such as storage and content distribution to partners through a secure Web interface. We can also rebrand Converzia according to customer specifications, and enable e-commerce to sell the converted content.”
Even back in 2002, when many content services vendors were just starting to test-run their conversion processes or thinking of doing large-scale digitization, Ninestars had already digitized 6,000 books for a major STM publisher. “At that time, our biggest challenges were in scaling up production, managing non-English content—the titles were in German and French—and producing multiple output formats. In the process, we implemented a proprietary tool, SKOBEE, to achieve 99.95% accuracy.”
A relatively new service from Ninestars is mobile apps development, which is handled by a 20-member team. “We recently launched the iOS app for the Hindu, a leading English-language newspaper in India, and it has received great reviews. We are also working extensively with children’s book publishers to transform selective print content into engaging digital experiences. For a few other customers, our team has built custom cross-platform e-stores for tablet or mobile commerce.”
Ninestars’ recent acquisition of Newbase, a media monitoring products company based in Hamburg, Germany, means a broader range of solutions and market expansion in Europe are expected in the coming months. At the same time, the company is using the expertise of two other sister companies—2AdPro for creative outsourcing services, and Jump Global Digital Solutions for creative technology platforms—to move into different verticals and niche segments such as retail and banking.
Three-year-old U.S.-based Qbend (and its parent company, Chennai-based S4Carlisle Publishing Services) is helping publishers to build their own brand presence through its white-label e-bookstore platform. “We provide publishing clients with an incredible number of sales models—purchase, rental, subscription, and customization, for instance—as well as customer support services, analytics, and guidance for streamlining areas such as marketing processes. We fulfill the need that has always existed in the publishing industry, which is to have content that is responsive to consumer needs,” says CEO Kris Srinaath. “We help publishers understand what the needs are and then use our e-bookstore platform’s various sales models as well as our patent-pending publishing engine S.N.A.P. [Search, Navigate, Assemble, Publish] to deliver the content in the right manner.”
Wolters Kluwer Law and Business, Blue Bottle Books, LID Editorial, Caffeine Nights Publishing, Quest Books, and PPI are just a sampling of Qbend’s clientele. Wolters Kluwer, adds Srinaath, has been using S.N.A.P. for nearly three years to serve the legal education market. Elsevier in Germany also used the service to produce enhanced e-books.
Producing custom products is another Qbend specialty, and this service has been integrated into its e-bookstore. “It enables publishers to open up their repository and allow consumers to pick and choose content that they need and then compile it into a unique publication. They can search different titles, find relevant chapters, sections, or even individual elements such as illustrations, tables, charts, and so on, and combine them into a book,” says COO Kaushik Sampath, adding that the publisher can control the level of granularity offered for each title. “Once the relevant content is selected, our price computation algorithms kick in. The customer is then prompted for payment through PayPal or other payment gateways. Upon successful transaction, the digital version is delivered and separate royalty reports are generated simultaneously that indicate how much of the content has been used from various titles in the custom product. This is useful for determining royalties for each copyright owner.”
While expansion of its publishing services remains high on the agenda, work continues to add new features to Qbend’s e-bookstore platform and S.N.A.P. capabilities to help clients maximize returns from their content. The team is already looking into the media segment covering 2-D and 3-D animation, video and audio content, and e-learning apps. “We are also working on establishing a presence in New York City to cater to publishers on the East Coast,” says Srinaath.
Last February, PLDT (Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company) sold its business process outsourcing business, which includes SPi Global, to Asia Outsourcing Gamma Ltd., a CVC Capital Partners company. The transaction, due for completion this month, will see PLDT become a CVC partner with a 20% stake. In November 2012, SPi subsidiary Laserwords acquired Chicago-based Tighe Publishing Services, a full-service k–12 educational development house. Thus begins the next phase of growth for SPi.
The acquisition, says president and CEO Maulik Parekh, allows Laserwords to take advantage of the burgeoning opportunities in the U.S. educational publishing business. “In strengthening SPi’s content business with the addition of a top-rated content development house, we can now focus on further building our digital service lines. This merger reinforces our leadership position in the global content solutions market.”
John Wheeler, senior v-p for strategy and emerging technologies, highlights that SPi Global’s style is to partner with customers. “We take this quite seriously and always look to add value to the projects we undertake. We don’t just talk about innovation when it comes to our services—we practice it.” Not surprisingly, its 200-strong Innovation Lab has been working in several areas, including Flash-to-HTML5 conversion and repurposing of digital content, workflow and authoring systems for digital-first production processes, and content enrichment and enhancement using automated processes and human intelligence.
One important growth area that Wheeler has observed recently is the use of technologies required to compose, edit, assemble, store, and distribute content digitally. “We have had to become proficient in the tools, technologies, and repositories required to create and manage digital content. These do not involve traditional publishing software such as Flash, Quark, and InDesign, but technologies such as Documentum, Oracle, MarkLogic, Alfresco, Drupal, and Informatica that used to be confined to the IT domain.”
The next wave of outsourcing has already started, adds Wheeler. “Publishers are re-evaluating what exactly is their place in the content world and what should be retained as a core competency within their organization.” He also sees “the traditional book or even journal model going out of style, being replaced with a ‘content first, delivery second’ methodology at most publishing houses. This means a different way of looking at content: how it is developed and manufactured so that how it is finally consumed is flexible enough for today’s rapidly changing markets. This is especially true in the education market.”
Growing from 36 clients to 56 within a year is a huge step forward for a small operation with barely 200 people. So is the acquisition of a small Chennai company with 15-plus experts in prepress and typesetting services in November. But Swift Prosys did it. Last year, the director for technical and business development, Mohan Thas Shanmugam, also established a new office in Toronto, Canada, to service around a dozen accounts, and kick-started marketing campaigns at the Toronto and Montreal book festivals. The next logical step, he adds, would be to set up a sales and marketing presence in the U.S.
“We also established a partnership with a software company to develop web applications last year,” says Shanmugam, “when one client wanted to create an e-bookstore for Scandinavian publishers. We have now developed analytics and detailed reports for the client for various e-bookstores. This ongoing project will ultimately provide an end-to-end solution for my client and his clients.”
Building new skills to provide upstream services such as design for iBooks Author and managing distribution for e-bookstores have become a focal point for Shanmugam. “The content digitization space has changed a lot in recent years and everyone now expects their content to display nicely and be user-friendly on smartphones and tablets. And with more tablets of varying sizes and models coming into the market at frenetic pace, e-book quality, features, and formats have also evolved accordingly. As a digital solutions company, we cannot afford to stand still. We must move with the times and add new services and capabilities as we go along.”
In recent months, major projects, especially those requiring conversion, have landed in Shanmugam’s tray. One is a five-year contract awarded by an international institute to convert backlist and new titles into Web-ready PDF, print-ready PDF, and EPub format. “The agreement is for us to deliver 3,200 titles in both Web- and print-ready PDF, and another 500 in EPub by the end of this year.” (For now, the team has the capacity to deliver between 60 and 100 e-books per week.) “We are also seeing an increased demand for projects involving scanning and digitizing backlist paperbacks into e-books.”
Work continues on digitizing 18th-century handwritten burial and cremation registers as well as old German books with Gothic fonts (see “Content Services in India 2012,” PW, Apr. 20, 2012). “Our team has delivered three million British burial and cremation records. Another million are in the process, and we expect to receive another five million in the coming years. For the German project, we have already turned 1,800 titles into print-ready PDFs optimized for print on-demand.”
This is the year of evolution at Thomson Digital, says executive director Vinay Singh. “We recognize the power of content and its usage, and most importantly, the limited support that has been given to non-English publications. Our success in Mauritius, where the facility is completely dedicated to French-language services, has provided the incentive for us to set up other specialized units for other European languages. Soon publishers will have access to our dedicated Portuguese and Spanish editorial units in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona respectively. For us, it is about extending our existing relationships with clients, aligning our operations to their content needs in different locations, and being closer to these clients within their growing markets.”
The Mauritius operation has grown from a team of six in 2006 to more than 60 native French speakers serving all market verticals. That same commitment to expansion and exploration of new cities, languages and services has also brought Thomson Digital to Sikkim, India’s least populated state, in the northeast. Set to go live this month, the Sikkim facility is Singh’s big initiative and contribution toward the growth of his native state.
Singh is focused on provided customers with a user-friendly, ergonomic, cost-cautious, all-in-one editorial product. “The whole publishing space is being redefined. Today’s readers have many options to explore and devices to support that exploration. For publishers, the urgent need is to move from core print products to parallel products. The latter has greater revenues attached to them, and the range is expanding. However, the technical solutions, and the right timing for providing such services are the avenues to explore. Ultimately, good and authentic content in multiple languages is what most clients are after, and Thomson Digital can provide that and more.”
While Singh is not divulging much, the beta version of a new product, TD-XPS, which has taken two years to develop, will be unveiled by the middle of this year. Providing a unique solution to authors, small and mid-sized publishers, and society journal publishers, TD-XPS is equally useful for large publishers as it can handle big volumes of work. Saving costs is the goal of this new product.
Adds Singh, “The pressing needs of multichannel publishing, content repurposing, localization, and new content requirements driven purely by technology demands a different treatment and approach. Small and medium-sized clients deserve to have the kind of technology and efficiency enjoyed by the top 10 publishers. TD-XPS is the answer: it is a product of its time—something much more than a publishing tool and one that can deliver at one-tenth of the conventional time frame.”
LearningMate: The Fast-Expanding E-learning Segment
Adaptive learning, personalized instruction, game-based learning, and collaborative/social learning models are shaping the current e-learning market. So is EPub 3, which is transforming e-books into interactive learning experiences, says CEO Samudra Sen of Mumbai-based LearningMate. “To support the changing nature of education, technology platforms designed for the management of big data, analytics, decision support systems, and reporting have been turning to the cloud. Meanwhile, the adoption of mobile devices, platforms, and applications will continue to pick up momentum.”
The popularity of mobile devices in e-learning is obvious, as seen in one recent LearningMate project in which the human anatomy is replicated in HTML5. “It took deft engineering to split 3-D models into thousands of frames and stitch them back seamlessly to create interactive animation that students can view, rotate, and interact with. And we did this at an amazingly low cost that makes it possible to create many such 3-D transformations in HTML5 for other projects,” adds Sen, whose team also worked on a professional teacher-training platform (based on social learning constructs), e-book engines, and a cloud-based data processing portal for a U.S. state department of education.
For now, LearningMate’s key focus areas remain the higher-ed and k–12 publishing segments, educational institutions (mainly career colleges), and government education departments. “Take the career-college market: it has been hit by falling enrollments, intense government scrutiny due to rising student loans, and low student retention rates—all of which add to balance sheet woes. So we are helping them in three areas: enriching the learning experience, building more efficient and cost-effective workflows, and using analytics to help improve student retention rates.”
As for first- and second-tier publishers, Sen and his team are helping them to align existing content to Common Core, Smarter Balanced, and PARCC guidelines. “Domain expertise is the biggest challenge here, and we are fortunate in that we have hired many industry experts who have firsthand experience with these standards. Aside from helping the publishers to build their editorial content, we are also working on assessment workflow tools and authoring tools to meet the challenges of these standards and to help them scale up.”
With mobile devices entering the classroom at a rapid pace, the way content is designed, delivered, and used is changing fast. “We are working on several initiatives with our clients to find the best fit. Our mobile platform GoClass is an example of the cutting-edge work we have done to address this shift.” GoClass, which won the Platinum R&D Award at the IMS GLC conference in Toronto last April, has been chosen by MERLOT for peer review. “This product has grown and matured, and more than 2,500 teachers in 77 countries have participated in our public beta phase. A key pilot study underway in Tennessee has helped us to ensure that GoClass 2.0, which is set for launch later this year, addresses both technical and pedagogical challenges in adopting effective and engaging technology in classrooms.”
LearningXChange, meanwhile, continues to be the platform of choice for many small and medium-sized companies wanting to go digital with a cloud-based learning platform that incorporates abundant social and collaborative learning features. It currently has nearly 100,000 users and continues to grow rapidly.
Success with the above products and services has allowed LearningMate to beat the economic downturn by growing more than 60% last year. “We have more than doubled the size of our operation over the past two years, and the rush to go digital coupled with the need to be more cost-effective has been great news for us,” adds Sen, emphasizing, “LearningMate is an education company that understands technology, and not a technology company trying to understand education.” A new office in Kolkata was established in January 2012, and the company is expected to have around 500 people this year—and 800 in 2014 if the same growth is sustained. Another 40 work in the U.S. to take care of project management and sales.
Quadrum Solutions: The Highly Illustrated Segment
Indian vendors excel in SSTM (scholarly, science, technical, and medical) content. That was true more than two decades ago and remains true today. At the same time, some vendors have made inroads into the k–12 and other educational segments that require more intensive design and creative capabilities. This is where PW finds Mumbai-based Quadrum Solutions.
Independently managed since 2007, Quadrum focuses on educational content, both print and digital, with services ranging from design, illustration, authoring, picture research, conversion, and content repurposing to marketing. Its clientele includes DK/Penguin/Pearson, Scholastic, Disney, Quarto, Sterling, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Andrews McMeel, Baker & Taylor, Hachette Livre, Oxford University Press, and Cambridge University Press.
“Our services range from originating content to repurposing it to meet different price points,” says associate v-p Abha Mehta. “For instance, for a 100-volume children’s series from an American publisher, we scanned the books, retouched all images, and supplied digital files for the reprint. We also developed an e-book program to maximize the content.” Another U.S. publisher, which had already commissioned Quadrum to create puzzle books, came with nearly 400 backlist titles for EPub conversion. Quadrum had to clean up old Quark files, source new fonts, and create PDFs before converting them to EPub to be sold through online channels for use on all devices. Approximately 50,000 pages—from gift books, comic titles, cookbooks, novels, and more—were converted within a period of four months.
A global educational publisher from the U.K. wanted original content created for eight-to-12-year-olds and selections of existing content translated from French to English. “We then had to adapt the content for different geographies. Over 2,000 pages were created, and the final product was released as a partwork of about 100 issues, 24 pages per issue. Two full-time translators were deployed for the intensive translation and content validation work. In addition, our team worked with more than 100 agencies and institutions to source and clear rights for over 5,000 photographs,” Mehta says. Another project involved 200 titles (16,000 pages in total) from an African client in the pre-primary, primary, and secondary education segment. The series was later developed into 192 CD-ROMs containing animated games, videos, activities, worksheets, and various supplementary components. The team also developed enhanced e-books like Great Impressionist and Post/Impressionist Paintings: The Musée d’Orsay for Arte Publishing last year. E-learning, too, has become a significant part of its service offerings. For instance, in a project with one of India’s largest direct-to-home cable operators, Quadrum created animated educational videos for television in the form of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs.
Chairman and CEO Dushyant Mehta believes that content will be used in formats decided by consumers. “The emerging trend is media convergence that involves not only media conversion but also enhancements that capitalize on the technology, conveniences, and features of every format and device. In addition, content adaptation for different regions will ensure a higher return on investment from a publisher’s assets.” He sees his company adding value “by developing customized solutions that allow publishers to maximize their assets across markets. Our future plans are focused on developing long-term partnerships with publishers and setting up dedicated one-stop centers to create e-products.”
KiwiTech: The agile mobile apps segment
Last year, 20 billion apps were downloaded from Apple’s App Store, or approximately one app download per 1.5 seconds. Today, one out of every seven people on this planet owns a smartphone—a total of one billion smartphones in use globally—while the number of apps created has grown from 14,479 in 2008 to 339,164 in 2012. On the other hand, Americans spent 127 minutes using mobile apps vs. 168 minutes watching television every day, marking an increase of 33 minutes for mobile apps consumption from the previous year while television consumption held steady.
The above figures are music to the ears of U.S.-based KiwiTech team, which has expanded their business beyond the publishing segment. For cofounder and CTO Gurvinder Batra, more changes are to be expected from the mobile apps space, pointing out that “there has been a substantial increase in budgetary allocation towards the deployment of mobile hardware and software in various industries. Pharmaceutical and clinical research segments, for instance, have been investing in mobile technology to reach remote customers as well as to collect data from remote locations around the world. Their apps adapt the mobile technology to local conditions where traditional devices such as laptops are not robust enough for travel.”
The public sector, specifically U.S. state and city governments, is also seeing value in mobile technology for data collection across various departments. “There have been cases where city governments’ IT departments have adapted the iPod Touches for inventory management by building apps that enable them to collect information on hardware embedded in barcodes,” says Batra.
These expansions present specific challenges as well as new opportunities. “BYOD [bring your own devices] policy and security are the main issues in such a dynamic environment. Naturally, companies such as IBM and Symantec are investing in building products that make apps more secure.” KiwiTech has partnered with IBM in the rollout of AppScan software, which reduces the risk of security vulnerabilities in Apple iOS enterprise apps. The mobile industry, according to Batra, is witnessing the development and deployment of such specialized apps to address critical “pain” points to ensure the enhanced success of mobility. “Companies such as Salesforce.com have invested considerably in HTML5 to build mobile front ends to their core CRM [customer relationship management] software to ensure widespread and flexible global deployment of their tools,” says Batra. “SAP and Oracle are also increasing their investments in building mobile apps to become the front ends of their application software.”
In recent months, Batra’s team has created KiwiSales, a sales CRM app that is built on the iOS platform, sits on top of Salesforce.com’s main engine, and is accessible through an iPad. According to Batra, “KiwiSales enables a sales rep to work remotely as well as offline without having to sync with the enterprise software to access information or to share product information with customers. It is particularly suited to the publishing industry, where hundreds of products are often presented to retail buyers and where orders are often taken by sales reps in the field. The offline capability enables the rep to work in university campuses, where Wi-Fi might not be available, enabling them to enter order details in front of the customer and share past order status.”
The team also created the Spacewalker iPad app to provide a unique UI/UX—user interface and user experience—to attract student in grades 4 to 7 to science. “We worked directly with Charles Watkinson, director at Purdue University Press, and Dr. Jerry Ross [the astronaut, with a record seven missions to his credit] on this app, which has the latter’s complete biography, a timeline section, a quiz and some unique videos that have never been seen outside of NASA,” explains Batra, whose team also worked on Loopster, an app that allows the user to combine video, audio, images, text, and transitions to create a unique experience on the iPad.