Gilbane Conferences & Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Tag: digital publishing

New Frontiers in Digital Content Distribution

As we said in our most recent Gilbane Advisor, “There are tectonic shifts underway among competing web, mobile, and social platforms, that will have profound effects on digital strategies.” While these shifts will impact everyone who distributes content, the major publishers have the most at stake, are paying the most attention, and are already experimenting. By now these experiments have provided some initial data, in particular with Facebook Instant Articles, though likely not enough to base major decisions on. Since we wrote the session description below a few months ago, Google announced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project and Facebook announced Notify. Events are moving quickly.

Whether you are a publisher, brand marketer, or  independent blogger, this panel discussion is bound to be enlightening.

P1. New Frontiers in Digital Content Distribution

Publishers have been using social media as a means to extend their brands, drive traffic to web properties, and cultivate direct relationships with consumers. But the arrival of “off-site” digital media outlets—Facebook’s Instant Articles, Apple News, Snapchat, Twitter Lightning, and whatever Google might dream up next—has publishers asking: will social media platforms usurp publisher’s own brand sites or be a lucrative extension? What are the results from those who are early participants? What are the business and technology issues to consider when deciding whether to take part? How can you prepare your organization, infrastructure and content to be ready if your CEO/CMO decides to take the plunge?

A panel of media technologists will report on their experiences and share their insights as we explore the latest trend in the evolution of digital media.

Wednesday, December, 2: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Moderator: Mark Walter, Director, Strategic Solutions, Managing Editor Inc. (MEI)
Panelists:
Brad Kagawa, VP Technology, Content Management Systems, The New York Times
Jay Brodsky, Principal, Align Digital
Eric Hellweg, Managing Director, Digital Strategy, Harvard Business Review

Google Integrates eBook Sharing in Their Social Networking Site

Google announced that they made a new feature for users to share the books they are reading on the new Google+ social network. Any book on Google books, whether it is a free or paid book, can be shared with your Circles. This feature allows one to share books, passages and details, such as cover art and the description, with friends. To share a book, visit the “About the Book” page on the Google Book listing and click “Share.” While sharing books, one can also “+1” them, and the titles will appear in on the Google+ profile under the +1 tab. http://books.google.com/

Platinum Equity Acquires Quark

Platinum Equity announced that it has acquired Quark, a provider of publishing software for professional designers and enterprise organizations. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Based in Denver, Colo., Quark provides a set of software applications targeted at creative professionals and the enterprise dynamic publishing market. These tools are components in a value chain of software products that enable the creation, management, publication, and delivery of content across a variety of media including print, email, web, social media, and the next generation of e-reader, tablet and mobile devices such as the iPad. http://www.quark.com/ http://www.platinumequity.com/

Really Strategies Announces RSuite Cloud

Really Strategies announced the availability of RSuite Cloud, a web-based editorial and production system for automated multilingual publishing to print, web, and eBook formats.  RSuite Cloud is a hosted end-to-end content management and publishing system for book publishers to create, manage, and distribute single-source content to multiple channels. The system also provides language translation tools to publish in 70 languages, including all major European, Asian, and bidirectional languages.

RSuite Cloud is available on a per-user license or Pay-Per-Page model. Pay-Per-Page is a payment model where the software is free of charge and the publisher only pays for final pages published from the system.

RSuite Cloud accepts Microsoft Word manuscripts into the system and automatically converts the Word files to XML for web-based copyediting and automated page composition. Production workflows can be set up to generate page proofs and eBook drafts for content review and approval. The system is configured to automatically publish print-ready PDF files, HTML output, and eBook formats. http://www.reallysi.com/

Adobe Releases Digital Publishing Suite

Adobe has released a series of tools designed to expedite digital publishing across various platforms. Digital Publishing Suite allows publishers to upload articles directly from InDesign CS5, and supports PDF and HTML5. The software can run on RIM’s PlayBook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Apple’s iPad and forthcoming Android platforms. The software allows dynamic user control of online publications, and readers are able to resize pages and move content around to suit their needs. Graphics, video and audio content can be built into the publications. The full version of Digital Publishing Suite will be available next year for a $699 licence fee, but beta code is now available from Adobe. http://www.adobe.com/

Thomson Learning– What’s next??

Earlier this year, I wrote that the announcement that Thomson Learning was for sale was an indictment of the current fundamentals of most learning market segments. From the perspective of Thomson senior management, the decision was to divest seems clear cut. Consider this comparative financial data:

Thomson Learning All Other Thomson Units

  • Organic Growth 4.0% 6.0%
  • Adj Ebitda 24.5% 29.2%
  • Operating Margin 12.9% 18.9%
  • Electronic Revenues 36.0% 80.0%
  • Recurring Revenues 24.0% 82.0%

(Source Thomson 4th Q Investor Presentation)

The percentages of electronic and recurring revenues are particularly at odds with CEO Harrington’s goal of integrating Thomson’s content with their customer’s work flows. After examining this data combined with declining unit volumes, growing price resistance, and increased government regulation, one wonders what motivated the private equity firms to pay the lofty multiples described in Thad McIlroy’s excellent post earlier this week.

Perhaps, they see the opportunity to create more new products that will blend content and technology to add value to the student’s learning experience. Vivid simulations and multimedia can help bring clarity to the explication of complex topics. Linking the appropriate content to solving problems improves student understanding while saving them lots of time and frustration. Making texts searchable and providing fresh links to appropriate Internet sites brings life and exploration opportunities to static textbook content.

Transitioning from a reliance on the sale of books and specific ancillary items to an intellectual property licensing model that is based upon usage metrics and attributes value to all aspects of course package (including the many package elements currently provided to faculty at no cost) would enable profound changes to the income statement. Revision cycles could be lengthened, sampling and selling costs reduced, and the percentage of recurring revenue increased substantially.

For several years, the potential of such changes have been obvious to industry executives and observers. Why then would the new owners be better able to institute these changes and transitions? The answer is simple, the short term costs of technology investments coupled with the transition to a recurring model would produce some “difficult quarters” for a publicly traded company. The opportunity to retool and restructure while private could create a company that would have excellent recurring revenues and better margins when reintroduced to public markets in a few years.

Should Thomson (and possibly Houghton-Mifflin) adopt this strategy, the impact on the rest of the industry could be profound. However, if these changes were to take place, authors, students, universities, and the publishing companies would eventually all be winners! Here’s hoping that this deal lends impetus to this industry transition.