Our Blueprint study is the first in-depth look into ebook-related issues from the book publishers’ perspective, tying digital considerations to the everyday book publishing processes (A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing.) Book publishers across all segments are embracing ebooks, but they require guidance grounded in what they actually do, more than simply a focus on technology.
Here is the figure in the study reporting on the book publishing segment breakout participating in the Blueprint survey that has trade publishers showing very strongly, at nearly one-third of respondents. This was a somewhat surprising showing to us, with our long and in-depth experiences with STM and education publishing. It’s good to get confirmation on claims we—and many others—have been making about trade publishing finally getting into ebooks in a serious manner.
Our expectations were thrown in other ways, too, and again because of The Gilbane Group traditional market focus, we’re we’ve been following content management platform development and helping with implementation in the enterprise for two decades. We’ve seen a lot of software and hardware go into companies to make their content creation, handling, and distribution more integrated. When it comes to book publishing, however, planning still starts—and, for many—ends with Word docs and spreadsheets. We believe this will change in the years ahead, and we certainly see a number of strong efforts toward integration of publishing processes out among the vendor community’s offerings. Process integration must and will happen in book publishing, but we con only guess at the timetable for this, presently.
One reason for our faith in book publishing process integration is that almost half of the surveyed respondents claim that they’re routinely working on print and digital versions concurrently, and this number goes to about three-quarters if the concurrent development is not necessarily routine, but pursued nonetheless. These numbers tell us several things, but the best news form them may be that book publishing is, indeed, seriously engaged in ebooks. Technology has a fierce and deserved reputation for being over-hyped (and, yes, despite my best efforts to get into Heaven, I’m guilty enough of this charge myself, in too many instances over the years); ebooks are in early days, but the inflection point is solidly behind us.
One proof of “early days” is the high level of confusion about ebook formats. This confusion on the part of book publishers isn’t about what these formats are, but rather how to produce the various desirable (or market-demanding) ebook formats. While some publishing platforms offer flexible format production, many book publishers are using outside partners—like Blueprint sponsor Aptara—to take on conversion and production.
Speaking of ebook formats, our next study, now in planning stage, looks to describe the various practical approaches for book publishers wanting to master this often-confusing issue. Working title: Ebooks, Apps, and Formats: The Practical Issues of XML, ePub, PDF, ONIX, .AWZ, DRM, ETC.
Stay tuned. Drop a line.