The Gilbane Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Author: David Guenette (page 2 of 4)

Blueprint Study is OUT!

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.

Blueprint Fig 1.jpgOur 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.

Blueprint Fig 7.jpg

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.

Blueprint Fig 9.jpg

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.

 

Blueprint Fig 39.jpg

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.

 

 

 


Mergers, Acquisitions, and the Publishing Processes Integration Challenge

From our new study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing:

[Today’s] publishing processes are replete with spreadsheets and ad hoc databases (many built in FileMaker and Microsoft Access). These are used for tasks as various as tracking and calculating royalties, managing contracts, tracking digital assets, and managing editorial and production schedules.

Mergers, acquisitions, and divestments have an impact on both processes and their associated systems and tools. A large publisher that acquires a smaller one might move quickly to have the new group adopt processes and systems used by the larger company. Or, seeing that the new group has unique needs and requirements, the publisher might leave their processes and systems intact.

Of the process areas we looked at, planning is one where investments in technology range widely. In regard to editorial and production processes, some publishers have gone so far as to specifically redesign this process with an eye toward “digital first”—the idea being to have digital products ready first—or sometimes “media neutral”—with the idea being print and digital products are developed in concert. Aptara, one of the sponsors of Blueprint, sees a lot of their recent business with publishers helping the publishers do just this. (Blueprint is also available from the Aptara site.)

While the desktop war has largely seen QuarkXPress cede more ground to Adobe’s Creative Suite in a lopsided two-horse race, the broader market for editorial and production systems is wide open, with a long list of small- and medium-sized vendors carving out corners of the marketplace.

Despite these many editorial and production tools and systems, the Blueprint survey results does shed light on some trends we have seen in practice at publishing companies. These trends include:

  1. Even print books have digital workflow and digital underpinnings.
  2. XML is gaining in usage, and being seen further upstream in the editorial process.
  3. Book publishers are taking more control of their assets.
  4. Outsourcing is the rule and not the exception in editorial and production.

We see this penetration of XML as highly significant, especially in a survey where trade and educational publishers account for two-thirds of the respondents and STM, Professional, and Legal accounts for only 22%. These latter segments, after all, represent the early adopters for XML usage upstream in the workflow (and SGML before that), and trade and educational publishers have traditionally lagged. It suggests to us that market forces are driving publishers to work hard at creating the kind of multi-channel publishing XML is best at driving.

Another of Blueprint’s sponsors is Really Strategies (you can download Blueprint from them, too), which offers R/Suite, a publishing-focused content management system that incorporates Mark Logic’s XML repository platform. There is a lot more for publishers to do to integrate their various publishing processes, but getting control of source files is the best first step.

Let us know what you think of the Blueprint study, and stay tuned for news of upcoming studies from The Gilbane Group Publishing Practice.
 

E-Reader Devices in Flux, But So What?

Repeat after us: What happens to specific devices or formats, such as Kindle or the iPad, will not be a significant factor for book publishers.

The title of this blog is taken from a sub-section heading in out Industry Forecast chapter in our just published 277-page study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, as is the quote above.

We’ve been following ebook efforts for well over a decade, and for some of us, thinking back to CD-ROM or the Gutenberg Project , the timeline is deeper yet. I mention this perhaps to excuse some of our assumptions going into the work of the Blueprint study, which was that many book publishers remained nervous about participating in ebooks because of the uncertainty about ebook formats among their potential customers, themselves, and, indeed, the market at large. We were, largely, wrong.

For one thing, a good part of book publishers—even trade—are already working with XML.  Here’s a quote from the new study:

There will remain plenty of help for book publishers to deal with the format flux, and, as book publishers move more completely into digital workflow—and especially grow in sophistication in regard to XML content format within editorial and production processes—the difficulties to meet specific output format demands will ease.

 Overall, we have come to understand that the convergence of functionality supporting enhanced ebooks among general-purpose mobile communications and computing devices, along with emerging standards for display, sale, and distribution of ebook titles, will also make platform issues for digital publishers largely moot. Recent announcements of new tablet devices, such as those by Samsung, which projects 11 million unit sales in 2011, simply expand market numbers rather than confuse markets. That is, if, as a book publisher, you handle your content in a way that can be created once and used in many ways.

To be clear (as we hope the following quote from the study is):

…book publishers should involve XML formats as early in the publishing process as possible. We are convinced ebook formats will evolve and change, and new ones will emerge. XML stands today as the one standard format that will enable publishers to best create, manage, and curate content over time. Moreover, the future will expand how XML and metadata can support strong integration among the various publishing processes within the publisher’s own work.

 As per our agreement with the sponsors of the Blueprint study, the sponsors have a 30-day exclusive distribution for the study, and Blueprint won’t be available through Gilbane.com for a few weeks yet.  We’ll be posting announcements from the study sponsors , providing download links as we get them.

Book Publishers: Stick to Your Knitting

A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, The Gilbane Group’s Publishing Practice latest study, is due out any day now. One thing about the study that sets it apart from other ebook-oriented efforts is that Blueprint describes technologies, processes, markets, and other strategic considerations from the book publisher’s perspective. From the Executive Summary of our upcoming study:

For publishers and their technology and service partners, the challenge of the next few years will be to invest wisely in technology and process improvement while simultaneously being aggressive about pursuing new business models.
 

The message here is that book publishers really need to “stick to their knitting,” or, as we put it in the study:

The book publisher should be what it has always best been about—discovering, improving, and making public good and even great books.  But what has changed for book publishers is the radically different world in which they interact today, and that is the world of bits and bytes: digital content, digital communication, digital commerce.

If done right, today’s efforts toward digital publishing processes will “future proof” the publisher, because today’s efforts done right are aimed at adding value to the content in media neutral, forwardly compatible forms.

A central part of the “If done right” message is that book publishers still should focus on what publishers do with content, but that XML workflow has become essential to both print and digital publishing success. Here’s an interesting finding from Blueprint:

Nearly 48% of respondents say they use either an “XML-First” or “XML-Early” workflow.  We define an XML-First workflow as one where XML is used from the start with manuscript through production, and we define an “XML-Early” workflow as one where a word processor is used by authors, and then manuscript is converted to XML.”

Tomorrow, Aptara and The Gilbane Group are presenting a webinar, eBooks, Apps and Print? How to Effectively Produce it All Together, with myself and Bret Freeman, Digital Publishing Strategist, Aptara. The webinar takes place on Tuesday, September 28, 2010, at 11 a.m., EST, and you can register here.
 

Blueprint Report Shaping Up, Coming Soon

We—the analyst team behind A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Systems to Re-Invent Publishing, David R. Guenette, Bill Trippe, Mary Laplante, and Karen Golden—have been working up a sweat, and it isn’t just because there’s a heat wave on in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. We’ve been heads down and glory bound in our efforts to finish up this whopper of a report.  We sincerely hope—indeed, strongly believe—that Blueprint will be of help to many, if only for its 39-page directory of book publishing-oriented vendors of technologies and services that can help make ebook and digital publishing more successful. 

This study provides a guide for book publishers to discover where they are this moment regarding digital transformation, while offering specific case studies and analysis of how book publishers should approach getting to where they need to be to take advantage next year, and in the years ahead. We knew going in that the study was an ambitious one, although none of us suspected in would be ambitious to the point of exceeding 200 pages, but, well, I suppose that is what can happen when you decide to look at the full range of publishing processes in relation to ebook and digital publishing. Not to mention an art program with over 60 figures, many of the results from our extensive Web-based survey.

We’re also excited about our case studies included in the study, filled with substance and capturing the voices of the subjects we interviewed, providing a conversational tone to these stories of real hands-on work being done in the vineyards of digital publishing. 

Hmmm… maybe the heat is getting to me.

We’re entering the final review stretch, so stay cool, and keep an eye open for the publication announcement.

Green Grow the eBooks, Oh

Perhaps it is the season when everything seems especially fecund, or perhaps I can’t resist abusing the lyrics of late, great Robbie Burns, but there is no “perhaps” about electronic book publishing’s astonishing pace of growth.

The Gilbane Group (a division of Outsell, Inc.), together with research partner BISG, is reaching out to the communities of book publishing professionals.  We invite you to participate in Web-based survey, a central research mechanism for our upcoming study A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing. The study will be published in June 2010, and all participants in this survey will have full access to the full-length study through The Gilbane Group website.

At the just concluded 2010 BEA—Book Expo America—our research partner on our upcoming study, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, delivered some facts and figures in a session there.  Kelly Gallagher, VP of Publishing Services at RR Bowker and BISG Reasearch Committee Chair, presented new research from The Book Industry Study Group on consumer attitudes toward eBook reading. According to the research, eBook sales went from 1.5% of all book sales in Q1 2009 to 5% in Q1 2010, with 33% of eBook buyers entering the market in the last six months. The survey was of eBook reading and purchase behavior from print book readers who recently purchased either an eBook reader or an eBook.

Outsell, Inc., our parent company, has also just published news about ebook market growth in education publishing. From the press release: “Outsell estimates the total global market for K-12 and post-secondary textbooks was $15.2 billion in 2009 and will reach $16.6 billion by 2012, representing a modest [compound annual growth rate] CAGR of 2.6 percent. Digital textbook products will fuel the market growth, with a CAGR of 25 percent, while revenues from print textbooks will decline by 1 percent.”

The Outsell report provides case studies of eight publishers’ innovations, including Pearson, Elsevier, Cambridge University Press, Macmillan, Flat World Knowledge, Cengage Learning, Chegg, and CourseSmart. It also provides potential market scenarios over the next 10 years and their likelihood of occurring, and strategies for publishers to “reclaim” revenues lost during a print-only era. To purchase the report, please visit Outsell, Inc. or click here.

Speaking in links, a reminder to all that we’re in the middle of collecting data from our ongoing survey of book publishing professionals, so if you’re one and you haven’t taken the 10-minutes to complete the Blueprint survey, click here. We seek to gain a clearer picture of ebook and related digital publishing efforts underway among the full spectrum of book publishers. Furthermore, the analyst team at The Gilbane Group seeks to identify a number of “pain points” or barriers encountered by book publishers when it comes to their developing or expanding digital publishing programs, including areas such as royalties, digital format choices, digital print decisions, and distribution problems.

So, it is Spring!  Take a survey!

Now Live: The Gilbane Group’s Web-based “Blueprint” Survey for Book Publishing Professionals

The Gilbane Group’s new web-based survey for book publishing professionals has just gone live. This “Blueprint” survey is one of the research mechanisms for our upcoming study A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing. The study will be published in June 2010, and all participants in this survey will have full access to the full-length study posted on The Gilbane Group website and through the websites of the sponsors of the report.

Please note: This survey is for high- and mid-level book publishing professionals. If this does not describe you, please do not take this survey.

TAKE SURVEY

This 10-minute survey seeks to gain detailed information about what is really happening among the full spectrum of book publishers related to ebook and digital publishing efforts, and will identify the "pain points" and barriers encountered by book publishers when it comes to their developing or expanding digital publishing programs.  Issues such as royalties, digital format choices, and distribution difficulties are addressed.

For more information about A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing, or other activities of The Gilbane Group Content Technologies and Strategies practice, please email Bill Trippe.

The Gilbane Group Survey for Book Publishing Professionals: Take it Today!

The Gilbane Group Web-based survey of book publishing professionals is now active!. This survey is one of the research mechanisms for our upcoming study A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Processes to Re-Invent Publishing. The study will be published in June 2010, and all participants in this survey will have full access to the full-length study posted on The Gilbane Group website.

This survey, which will take most participants between 10-to-15 minutes to complete, seeks to gain a clearer picture of ebook and related digital publishing efforts underway among the full spectrum of book publishers. Furthermore, the analyst team at The Gilbane Group seeks to identify a number of “pain points” or barriers encountered by book publishers when it comes to developing or expanding digital publishing programs, including areas such as royalties, digital format choices, and distribution problems.

Broadly speaking, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Systems to Re-Invent Publishing is a professional education effort, and its utility will rely, in large part, on the active and open participation of the book professionals on the front lines of the digital transformation of books.

Please note: This survey is for high- and mid-level book publishing professionals. If this does not describe you, please do not take this survey.

TAKE SURVEY

Thank you for your participation!

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