Curated for content, computing, and digital experience professionals

Author: Bill Trippe (Page 2 of 23)

eBook Strategy Offering Now Available

As we have mentioned before, we have been very interested in leveraging the knowledge base we developed from our successful digital publishing study, Digital Platforms and Technologies for Publishers: Implementations Beyond "eBook."

With that in mind, we have moved forward and developed a strategic consulting offering, "Implementing Digital Publishing." 

Consultation Description

Publishers face a wide range of strategic and tactical decisions when looking to start or build their digital publishing programs, and while publishers have taken many paths to success with digital product development, marketing, sales, and distribution, the organizational underpinnings of the most successful efforts have the common characteristics of technology spending consistent with business needs and opportunities. 

The Gilbane Group’s Content Strategies service is offering a three phase consultation that is aimed at both management and operations personnel in educational, professional, trade, association, STM, and specialty publishing. The goal of the consulting is to assess the publisher’s current systems involved in digital publishing—planning, editorial and production, rights and royalties, manufacturing, promotion and marketing, sales and licensing, and distribution and fulfillment—and to provide decision-making support and guidance. The consulting targets and sets the course for achieving effective and efficient digital publishing business models.


Depending on the size and scope of the publishing company, as well as the particular consultation phases sought, the stakeholders addressed in these consultations may include Publisher, VP and Editorial Director, VP of Production Services, VP of Digital Publishing, VP of Marketing, VP of Royalties, VP of Manufacturing, VP of Rights, VP of Business Development., VP of Digital Licensing, VP of Sales, VP of IT and CIO or CTO.

The Educational and Directional phase of the consultation (Phase One), which may be purchased as a standalone service or in conjunction with Phase Two and Phase Three, provides the publisher with a high-level assessment of the publisher’s current state of digital publishing capability across the multiple publishing systems. This phase concludes with a report and briefing that defines the publisher’s current state of digital publishing and provides recommendations for improving digital publishing capabilities.

The Analysis, Planning, and Recommendations phase of the consultation (Phase Two) moves the publisher from a general assessment of the conditions and challenges it faces in moving toward a more effective digital publishing business by providing an in-depth plan that a publisher can use to undertake its transformation into a more effective and efficient publisher for digital success. This phase concludes with 18-month action plans and on-site presentations and discussions of findings and recommendations with appropriate stakeholders.

The Implementation Support phase of the consultation (Phase Three) is designed to provide structured support as the publisher follows through on recommendations from Phase Two. Services within the Phase Three purview can include implementation progress reports, regular client visits, retainer and query programs, RFP assistance, prospective vendor research, and bid and implementation document review.

For a full data sheet describing the offering or for other information, you can email me or contact Ralph Marto via email or phone, 617.497.9443 ext 117.

Do you Have an eBook Strategy Yet?

We have been very pleased with the interest in our new report, Digital Platforms and Technologies for Publishers: Implementations Beyond “eBook.” We have had hundreds of downloads already, the vast majority of which are senior people in the publishing industry. This tells us that the timing for the research is good and that interest is strong, and we are thinking about what to do next with this topic.

One idea we have thought about is helping publishers think through their eBook strategy. If our research (and other recent research) is correct, many larger publishers are jumping in with both feet, but some larger publishers, many medium-sized, and perhaps most smaller publishers are staying on the sidelines or testing the waters with pilots and low-cost and low-impact tests with third parties. Perhaps these efforts are part of developing a strategy? Perhaps some of you think the market is too nascent?

An eBook strategy would necessarily be multi-faceted, and would include input from sales, marketing, editorial, production, fulfillment, and others with a stake in the process. It would need to be informed by good market data, and with good understanding of what technology and channel partners can truly offer publishers. It would also need to be pragmatic, balancing the capabilities of your organization with a realistic assessment of the market opportunities you have.

We’d like to gauge interest in this kind of offering through the following simple poll. Just one question, and no requirement to log in or register. If you would like to talk in more detail about this idea, please email me with any questions.

Digital Publishing Visionary Profile: Cengage’s Ken Brooks


Ken Brooks is senior vice president, global production and manufacturing services at Cengage Learning (formerly Thomson Learning) where his responsibilities include the development, production, and manufacturing of textbooks and reference content in print and digital formats across the Academic and Professional Group, Gale, and International divisions of Cengage Learning. Prior to his position at Cengage Learning, Ken was president and founder of publishing Dimensions, a digital content services company focused in the eBook and digital strategy space. Over the course of his career, Ken founded a Philippines-based text conversion company; a public domain publishing imprint; and a distribution-center based print-on-demand operation and has worked in trade, professional, higher education and K-12 publishing sectors. He has held several senior management positions in publishing, including vice president of digital content at Barnes & Noble, vice president of operations, production, and strategic planning at Bantam Doubleday Dell, and vice president of customer operations at Simon & Schuster. Prior to his entry into publishing, Ken was a senior manager in Andersen Consulting’s logistics strategy practice.


This interview is part of our larger study on digital publishing.


Continue reading

Random House: Creating a 21st Century Publishing Framework

As part of our new report, Digital Platforms and Technologies for Publishers: Implementations Beyond “eBook,” we researched and wrote a number of case studies about how major publishing companies are moving to digital publishing. The following is case study of Random House and its use of Digital Asset Management (DAM) technology from OpenText to create a much more dynamic and agile publishing process.


Random House, Inc. is the world’s largest English-language general trade book publisher. It is a division of Bertelsmann AG, one of the foremost media companies in the world.

Random House, Inc. assumed its current form with its acquisition by Bertelsmann in 1998, which brought together the imprints of the former Random House, Inc. with those of the former Bantam Doubleday Dell. Random House, Inc.’s publishing groups include the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, the Crown Publishing Group, the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, the Knopf Publishing Group, the Random House Audio Publishing Group, the Random House Publishing Group, and Random House Ventures.

Together, these groups and their imprints publish fiction and nonfiction, both original and reprints, by some of the foremost and most popular writers of our time. They appear in a full range of formats—including hardcover, trade paperback, mass market paperback, audio, electronic, and digital, for the widest possible readership from adults to young adults and children.

The reach of Random House, Inc. is global, with subsidiaries and affiliated companies in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Through Random House International, the books published by the imprints of Random House, Inc. are sold in virtually every country in the world.

Random House has long been committed to publishing the best literature by writers both in the United States and abroad. In addition to the company’s commercial success, books published by Random House, Inc. have won more major awards than those published by any other company—including the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer founded the company in 1925, after purchasing The Modern Library—reprints of classic works of literature—from publisher Horace Liveright. Two years later, in 1927, they decided to broaden the company’s publishing activities, and the Random House colophon made its debut.

Random House first made international news by successfully defending in court the U.S. publication of James Joyce’s masterpiece, Ulysses, setting a major legal precedent for freedom of speech. Beginning in the 1930s, the company moved into publishing for children, and over the years has become a leader in the field. Random House entered reference publishing in 1947 with the highly successful American College Dictionary, which was followed in 1966 by the equally successful unabridged Random House Dictionary of the English Language. It continues to publish numerous reference works, including the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary.

In 1960, Random House acquired the distinguished American publishing house of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., and, a year later, Pantheon Books, which had been established in New York by European editors to publish works from abroad. Both were assured complete editorial independence—a policy which continues in all parts of the company to this day.

The Open Text Digital Media Group, formerly Artesia, is a leader in enterprise and hosted digital asset management (DAM) solutions, bringing a depth of experience around rich media workflows and capabilities. Open Text media management is the choice of leading companies such as Time, General Motors, Discovery Communications, Paramount, HBO and many more.

When clients work with the Open Text Digital Media Group, they tap into a wealth of experience and the immeasurable value of:

  • A decade of designing, delivering, and implementing award-winning rich media solutions
  • A global client base of marquee customer installations
  • An experienced professional services staff with hundreds of successful implementations
  • A proven DAM implementation methodology
  • Endorsements by leading technology and implementation partners
  • Domain expertise and knowledge across a variety of industries and sectors
  • The global presence and financial strength of Open Text, a leading provider of Enterprise Content Management solutions with a track record of financial growth and stability

Continue reading

Digital Publishing Visionary Profile: Lulu’s Bob Young

As part of our new report, Digital Platforms and Technologies for Publishers: Implementations Beyond “eBook,” we interviewed a number of industry visionaries. The following is a summary of a discussion between Lulu’s Bob Young and Gilbane’s Steve Paxhia.

Bob Young: Lulu—Next Steps

Bob Young is the founder and CEO of, a premier international marketplace for new digital content on the Internet, with more than 1.1 million recently published titles and more than 15,000 new creators from 80 different countries joining each week. Founded in 2002, is Young’s most recent endeavor. The success of this company has earned Young notable recognition; he was named one of the “Top 50 Agenda-Setters in the Technology Industry in 2006” and was ranked as the fourth “Top Entrepreneur for 2006,” both by In 1993, Young co-founded Red Hat, the open source software company that gives hardware and software vendors a standard platform on which to certify their technology. Red Hat has evolved into a Fortune 500 company and chief rival to Microsoft and Sun. His success at Red Hat won him industry accolades, including nomination as one of Business Week’s “Top Entrepreneurs” in 1999. Before founding Red Hat, Young spent 20 years at the helm of two computer leasing companies that he founded. His experiences as a high-tech entrepreneur combined with his innate marketing savvy led to Red Hat’s success. His book, “Under the Radar,” chronicles how Red Hat’s open-source strategy successfully won industry wide acceptance in a market previously dominated by proprietary binary-only systems. Young has also imparted the lessons learned from his entrepreneurial experiences through his contributions to the books “You’ve GOT to Read This Book!” and “Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul.

For many years, authors who were unsuccessful in getting their books published by a commercial publishing company could underwrite the costs of publishing their books and sell them through “vanity presses.” It was rare that books published in this manner ever recouped the author’s investment and earned a profit.

Bob Young admits that when he was in college that he never fully appreciated the writings of philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. However, one of Sartre’s teachings—“We see the world the way that we expect to see it”—stuck with him. This passage helps explain how established practices and entities become so entrenched. Yet in 2002, Bob Young had an idea that would attack the established policies and practices of the book publishing industry. The industry had consolidated tremendously in the previous decade, and the distribution and retail networks changed dramatically. These changes have had a profound impact on potential authors. The reduction in the number of publishing entities has resulted in it becoming more difficult for authors to get their works published. The publishing company may already have a similar title or be unwilling to take a chance on an unpublished author. Sometimes, a book is written by a prominent author but the market niche is too small for traditional publishers to serve. These phenomena leave a significant number of high quality books without a publisher.

The publishing industry and its distribution network were becoming more digital. Another of Young’s favorite philosophers points out that when new media take prominence leaders in the previous medium often fail to succeed. Digital technologies are now used to create all types of content and the move towards digital distribution networks, as demonstrated by the popularity of and its peers, opening up markets for these books.

With the goal of allowing every author to have access to a professional publishing platform an extensive sales and distribution platform, Young’s idea became a company named “Lulu” and has evolved and thrived during the past six years. The company now has three main product lines:

  • Print—books, brochures, manuals and materials for business solutions
  • Photo Creations—calendars, photo books, art and images
  • Social Networking–marketing, commerce and exposure via weRead, the most popular social book discovery application, allowing readers to catalogue, rate and review books.

The value proposition is very simple and appealing to authors. presents authors with total editorial and copyright control with additional protection provided from the backend. They make money on their projects with an 80/20 revenue split (80% for the authors) and by providing a unique on-line sales and distribution system, a viable business model for the current economy and beyond.

Powerful search engines and social community applications help match willing readers with niche titles. Content on is easily accessible—perfect for niche communities searching for specific topics. is home to a new economy, a digital marketplace of buyers and sellers, where sellers are selling “intellectual property” and buyers buy the intellectual property in either a physical or digital format. allows for personalization and customization for individual or business needs.

During the 2009 O’Reilly TOC Conference, Jason Fried of 37signals described the book that he and his colleagues had written based on lessons learned from creating and servicing their successful project management and collaboration product named Basecamp. They published their book with and report sales of almost $500,000 in the last several years. This enabled them to reach number three on the Lulu best seller list at one point. Ideally, this story would have a happy ending and they would publish their next book with Alas, the success of their previous book motivated a traditional publisher to offer them a significant advance for their second book. The offer was too tempting to refuse. They now have to hope that the traditional economic model with 10-20% royalties will generate more than’s 80-20 split. In essence, they are wagering that the traditional publisher will be able to sell at least four times the number of books that would have sold.

When asked about this, Young was nonplussed. He simply stated that it was his goal to publish their third book and to make them loyal authors in the future. It is his number one goal to help his authors become successful. He believes that discoverability is the key to helping his authors sell more books. Hence, he acquired weRead, the most popular community of readers. This technology helps readers find, read and rate new books on topics of interest to them no matter what the genre or how small the niche. The connection between weRead and e-tailers such as Amazon forms a powerful combination of capabilities that erode the advantages once monopolized by traditional publishers and bookstores. For many books,’s print on demand publishing and distribution model is faster, cheaper, and more efficient than the traditional publishing model, and is much less risky.

Lulu also offers authors publishing templates and a set of tools to create Websites, storefronts, widgets and blogs for their books. While these are self-service offerings, they further erode the service advantages provided by traditional publishers. The service has been so successful that new small publishers are using as a platform for their own publishing companies. Other publishing companies are using Lulu to keep books in print once the current print run has been exhausted.

Young believes that there are many books available at that are superior to those published by traditional publishers. The key is to help each book become discovered. He concludes “we’re not in the business of choosing the best books to be published, we give authors the technologies and services to be successful and let the market decide which books are the best.” The type of content that Lulu supports is continuing to expand. Lulu just announced the acquisition of and has rebranded it to Lulu Poetry.

Gilbane Conclusions

This is a very disruptive approach to publishing. The change to digital development and the increasing popularity of eBooks combined with the increasing market share enjoyed by e-tailers makes’s strategy very powerful. We expect to see this model gain greater acceptance as economies offered by print on demand drive up the cost threshold versus long run printing. Lulu is the established leader in this segment which, according to Sartre, bodes well for the company’s future.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2024 The Gilbane Advisor

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑