CodeMantra was therefore able to convert ebooks at a reasonable price, which lowered production costs and increased profit margins for the CEL and its participating publishers. Using similar incentives, the Association of Canadian Publishers was also able to lower the cost of producing ebooks for Canadian Publishers, thereby encouraging them to continue outsourcing.
When it came time for the ACP to choose its technology partners for the CPDS program, it too hired companies like CodeMantra and Innodata, whose conversion facilities were located in South Asia, and who could therefore offer lower pricing. Accordingly, UBC Press was more selective in the titles it chose to convert and in the formats it requested.
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Of the 74 titles the Press submitted for initial estimates, it processed only 62, choosing those titles that were most affordable to produce. To sum up, the companies and organizations that have facilitated outsourcing over the last ten years have offered a series of incentives, ranging from complete coverage of production costs to cost deferrals and direct subsidies. These incentives have made it more affordable—and therefore less risky—for university presses to start publishing ebooks.
In addition to lowering financial risk and production costs, outsourcing seemed like a convenient way for publishers to enter into the ebook business. The production method used by the early content aggregators was particularly accommodating. This meant that publishers could remain focused on creating their print product while ebook production took place downstream. Figure 2. Even with the advent of newer ebook formats, in-house operations continued much the same as they had before. All the Press was required to do was upload these simple PDFs, along with the accompanying front cover images in their native file formats e.
Once the simple PDF files had been downloaded by CodeMantra employees, features like internal links and bookmarked tables of contents were added manually to enhance the product and make it more user-friendly. Although applying these features is not an overly complex process, requiring only minimal training and common software applications like Adobe Acrobat Pro, the process can be quite labour intensive, particularly if a PDF contains a lot of index entries or notes which have to be turned into links.
Outsourcing therefore saved UBC Press staff the time and effort required to perform these tedious tasks. Though the method of producing other ebook formats is much more involved, the Press did not have to put forth any extra effort when it started to publish EPUBs and XML files in This is because conversion houses like CodeMantra and Innodata were able to create these ebooks from the same basic files used to produce the ePDFs.
This data is then stored in an intermediate form of XML unique to that company e. After a rough preliminary conversion, these companies likely run more scripts to reformat portions of the file and to add styling to the ePub. In this way, conversion houses are able to create complex XML ebook formats from the simple PDFs provided by the publisher. From a production standpoint, outsourcing has therefore been exceptionally convenient: it has allowed UBC Press to adopt various ebook formats that have developed over time without having to drastically alter its own operations.
Moreover, in its early agreements with content aggregators, UBC Press was able to outsource not just the production of its ebooks but also their marketing and distribution. Publishers who converted their titles through the CPDS program also had the option of collectively licensing their content through the ACP to ebook vendors like Sony.
Although UBC Press has had to take a more hands-on approach to ebook production in recent years see Chapter 3 , the initial convenience of being able to outsource all manner of work associated with ebooks clearly was a draw for publishers. At the time UBC Press began publishing ebooks, the outsourcing of technical services had become a common practice within Canada. Outsourcing also seemed to fit with the freelance-based business model already in place at the Press.
Over the years, the different parties that organized ebook production also tended to subsidize it: companies like NetLibrary and industry groups like the ACP have offered various financial incentives to make outsourcing even more attractive to publishers. For publishers, then, outsourcing has minimized any economic risks involved in adopting the digital format. Furthermore, outsourcing has been an incredibly convenient way to enter into the ebook market. Because ebooks have, to date, been produced from the end-product of print publishing i. By being both convenient and affordable, this method of production has been beneficial enough to keep publishers outsourcing for over ten years.
However, it remains to be seen whether the benefits of outsourcing still outweigh other problems that may have arisen from this practice. As was established in the previous chapter, UBC Press has been outsourcing ebook production since it first began publishing ebooks in the late s. But whether or not it should continue to do so warrants some consideration.
The processes and products that have resulted from over a decade of outsourcing should be examined in order to determine whether outsourcing remains as beneficial a business practice as it once was. In particular, it will catalogue the types of errors that have been found within these files. This chapter will then speculate on the inconvenience, risks, and added costs that may result from poorly converted ebooks.
In an effort to understand why—and with such frequency—these errors have occurred, the conversion process used by large overseas companies like CodeMantra and Innodata Isogen will also be examined. Even if outsourcing was an effective way of allowing Canadian publishers to enter the ebook market, outsourcing long-term may have the unfortunate result of reducing the autonomy of Canadian publishers and their participation in the digital economy. Like other outsourcing initiatives that had come before it, the CPDS program was seen as a convenient way of producing ebooks.
This outsourcing opportunity also seemed to carry little risk, given that it was overseen by the ACP: a trusted industry representative that was willing to partially fund the process. In short, the CPDS program seemed like an easy, safe, and affordable way for publishers to obtain ebook editions of their backlist titles. However, UBC press was quite disappointed with the files it received from its conversion partners during this program.
Errors were apparent even from the cover pages. The ebook covers were often of poor quality. Some cover images appeared in very low resolution; others were stretched because their proportions had not been maintained during resizing. Low Resolution Ebook Covers. Original Image vs.
Stretched Cover Image. The ebook interiors were just as disappointing. Entire chapters were missing from the ebooks or from the bookmarked tables of contents that had been added to the files manually by the technology partner. More frequently, the files themselves were incorrectly named, having been labeled with the wrong ISBN number e.
Such errors were common across all file types, but others were unique to particular ebook formats. In the ePDFs which are paginated , whole pages were missing or were misnumbered. Preliminary pages in the front matter did not appear in Roman numerals, though the Press had stipulated that they should. Chapter headings were also missing from the tops of some pages.
In addition, the print-on-demand PDFs included only front covers, instead of the full wrap cover requested by the Press and required by Lightning Source. The EPUB errors that were most visible were those pertaining to images. For instance, diacritics which should have been rendered in UTF-8 encoding as stipulated in the agreement were instead captured as images during the conversion process.
Because they had been rendered as images, these accented characters did not appear to rest on the same line as the rest of the text. These errors were made all the more visible when the ebooks were viewed on a wide screen. Figure Still more problems occurred because of the shift from PDF to EPUB that took place during conversion—in other words, the shift from a fixed page layout to reflowable text. Images that appeared on separate pages in the print editions now seemed to interrupt the text, sometimes appearing mid-sentence.
Tables which contained three or more columns in the original files and which should have been rendered as images had been grabbed as text instead; as a result, the contents of these tables often broke across several pages in the EPUB, making them difficult to read. Odd line breaks also occurred within the running text because the print typesetter had either used automatic hyphenation or had inserted forced line breaks in the original InDesign files. Pages that originally appeared in the front matter and that were supposed to have been relocated to the back of the EPUB so as not to interfere with readability a common practice in ebook design had not been moved.
More seriously, the metadata for these EPUB files was neither robust nor accurate. Series information was not included in the. Not surprisingly, the error-riddled ebooks that were produced during the last two rounds of conversions created delays and extra work for UBC Press, making outsourcing far less convenient than it seemed at the outset. During the first round of CPDS conversions in , ebook errors occurred with such frequency that many ACP members complained to the organization about the quality of their files.
The sheer scale of the problem prompted the Association to bring in a consultant to negotiate a solution with the technology partner, CodeMantra. In the end, all parties agreed that the company would make certain changes to the files produced during this round of conversions, free of charge. Many publishers decided to resubmit files, but because the changes were applied globally, it took a long time for the corrections to be implemented.
As a result, some of the titles that were initially submitted to CodeMantra during the first round of conversions in were not yet ready by Coates. The second round of conversions, which began in while the first batch of ebooks were still being corrected , was also fraught with complications. In an attempt to prevent further problems, the ACP had included specific language in the contract with its new conversion partner, Innodata. UBC Press had also included additional instructions along with the titles it submitted for conversion.
Unfortunately, this second technology partner also failed to deliver files that met the requirements of the Press and the ACP, so similar delays ensued. Almost all of the 62 files UBC Press submitted to Innodata in July had to be returned to the company in November and December of that year due to formatting errors. During the second round of proofing in May , errors were still being found in the files. In a sample of 36 ebooks, only 12 of the 25 EPDFs were of acceptable quality that is, contained few enough errors to be sold in good conscience , and only five of 11 EPUBs would validate.
During this fiasco, Press staff also had to spend a significant amount of time and attention interfacing with its technology partners and the ACP.
Once UBC Press became aware of the quality of its files, Press employees also had to intervene and spend time checking each file—not once, but multiple times. This necessarily interrupted regular in-house operations. If an ebook is found to have a particularly high number of errors, these errors may affect unit sales for that particular electronic title. However, they could also lower sales for other titles as well, for the following reason.
This is because the Press was not prepared for the state of the files it received through the CPDS program. When UBC Press received its first batch of ebooks back from CodeMantra in , Coates did not suspect that she would need to review each file individually for errors. As the sole staff member responsible for this aspect of production, Coates also lacked the assistance that would have made a thorough review possible.
As a result, dozens of botched EPDFs were distributed to libraries through ebook aggregators soon after they were delivered to the Press. It was also cursory by necessity: due to the volume of files that had to be reviewed, the student intern was only able to spend 10 minutes or so spot-checking each file Coates. As a result, many of the EPDFs that were put into circulation from the second round of conversions were functional, but still contained minor formatting errors e.
These ebook errors may have not only lowered the perceived quality of the product and of the Press itself, but they may have ultimately affected the profitability of the ebooks by delaying their distribution. After the Press had to send back files to Innodata for revision in November , libraries and vendors began contacting UBC Press because the ePDF versions of certain titles advertised in the Fall catalogue had not yet been made available to them Coates. As a result, library orders may have been dropped before these files were ready.
Laraine Coates has expressed concern over the fact that the EPUBs first requested from Innodata in May were not yet sellable 18 months later, in November A year later, the EPUBs remain in unsellable condition and have yet to be distributed. Consequently, the sale of these ebooks—and revenue from these sales—has been postponed, and may be forfeited altogether if the files cannot be brought to satisfactory standards. Metadata errors could further depress ebook sales by reducing the visibility of the files in an online environment.
This makes it harder for potential customers to find and purchase that ebook online. Metadata and validation errors therefore affect not just the discoverability of these electronic titles, but also their saleability. The potential risks and financial losses from this latest outsourcing experience may be largely incalculable, but these poorly formatted ebooks have already resulted in quantifiable costs incurred by the Press.
The several rounds of proofing that UBC Press personnel have had to perform on each file has contributed to the overall cost of producing these ebooks. In the summer of alone, 63 ebooks had to be proofread in-house at the Press. As it took roughly twenty minutes to thoroughly check each ebook often longer for EPUBS , this amounted to at least 21 hours of employee time.
But when one considers the hassle and hidden costs that have come with these conversions, and the untold price paid by publishers whose brands have been compromised by a substandard product, outsourcing through the ACP has turned out to be far more expensive than the official price tag suggests. Under its recent contracts with the Association of Canadian Publishers, UBC Press worked with two different companies, CodeMantra and Innodata: two large conversion houses whose operations are located overseas.
The fact that UBC Press had disappointing experiences with both partners suggests that there may be problems not with each individual company, but with the business practices of large conversion houses in general. In an article written in for the now defunct online publication eBookWeb , an industry insider exposed some systemic problems that were present even among early conversion houses.
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Trained only to carry out their assigned tasks, the employees perform repetitive functions e. This disunity affects the overall quality of the product and the ability of the ebook to function as a whole. On a human resource level, this assembly-line approach to conversion leads to low morale and motivation among workers, and a high turn-over rate.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, hiring low-skill workers instead of ebook designers or digital publishing professionals is more desirable for these companies, since their production method is built around tools, not training. Because the workers who rely on this software often operate independently from the programmers who write the scripts, there is seldom any feedback between users of these tools and their creators.
This disintegration results in the development of inefficient tools. Another problem endemic to these large companies is the issue of scale itself. To wit, the ACP contracts show that these conversion houses are often serving multiple clients in this case, 44 different Canadian publishers with divergent needs, simultaneously. Clearly, the workflow used by the company—which might work well for producing EPUBs of trade fiction titles with fewer textual elements—could not easily accommodate the type of apparatus found in most scholarly books. The type of markup that results from these cookie-cutter conversions is often of low quality: a fact that, strangely enough, does not seem to hurt business, since the clients of these companies are often more concerned with the appearance of their ebooks than the integrity of their code.
In the long term, however, an acceptance of low-grade code on the part of the publisher could affect the use of these ebooks both as archival files and as sellable wares. If the code behind these ebooks does not comply with current best practices, these files may not be forward-compatible when newer versions of the EPUB standard are released. Bad code may also interfere with the ability of future devices to render the files properly. Far from being a safe investment, these poorly made files may in fact have a very short shelf life. This last point underscores a final problem that Salo warns against in her article: a lack of disclosure about workflow and markup on the part of these companies.
This reticence may stem from greater communication problems between these large companies and their clients. Staff at UBC Press, for instance, often complained that although they were assigned an intermediary contact person by the ACP, they could not communicate directly with those who were overseeing or performing their ebook conversions.
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However, Salo attributes this lack of disclosure to a more pernicious motive. This dependence does not sit well with some who work in the Canadian publishing industry. Canadian publishers are not just handing over their money and content to factories overseas; they are also giving up their immediate autonomy, and reducing their chances of achieving some measure of self-sufficiency in the future. By continuing to rely on external parties to create and manage their ebooks, Canadian publishers are deferring the need to hire or train staff to carry out their digital publishing programs. At present, there is indeed a scarcity of ebook experts among Canadian publishers.
This is particularly true of university presses. Of the 13 UPs in Canada, only two have staff whose sole purpose is to oversee their digital publishing programs. Coates explains that she took on this responsibility in when another staff member in the Production department was away on maternity leave. Coates assumed this role because of her own personal interest in ebooks, and not her prior training or expertise in ebooks per se.
Although Coates is occasionally able to attend workshops and discussion panels on ebooks organized by various professional associations e. Because the Press had been outsourcing ebook production from the start, Press staff found themselves without the tools or skills necessary to modify the error-riddled ebooks produced through the CPDS program. As a result, UBC Press had to send back converted files that needed only minor corrections e. In this way, the decision to outsource has handicapped individual publishers and furthered their dependence on conversion partners by rendering them ill-equipped to handle their own ebooks.
Over time, the tendency to outsource will also affect the self-sufficiency of the industry at large. Low demand for ebook-savvy employees in Canada will only lead to a lack of supply, for if there are few jobs available in digital publishing in this country, there is little incentive for publishing professionals to pursue training in this field, and limited opportunities for them to obtain on-the-job experience. In the absence of expertise at home, outsourcing abroad appears to be the only viable option for producing ebooks.
Viewed this way, outsourcing threatens to become a self-perpetuating and self-justifying practice—one that leaves publishers without direct control over what has become an essential part of their publishing program. The files being produced are of an unacceptable quality due to the batch processing and general business practices used by large conversion houses. Yet the decision to outsource has consequences not just for the individual publisher, but for the publishing industry as a whole.
If the industry continues to outsource ebook production instead of developing the skills required to do so in Canada, those who outsource will have no other choice but to continue outsourcing in the future. In light of these problems, it seems advisable that Canadian publishers now look for practical ways to incorporate ebooks for forthcoming titles into their existing workflows, whether that be at the proofreading or at the production stage.
The next chapter will therefore propose various short- and long-term strategies that university presses such as UBC can use to gradually bring ebook production in house. By doing so, these presses can immediately address, and eventually avoid, the problems that have accompanied outsourcing. In the last decade, publishers faced the daunting task of converting their extensive backlists into multiple ebook formats whose staying power was somewhat questionable. Now that ebooks have become a standard part of publishing, and the bulk of their backlists have been converted through an outsourcing process that leaves much to be desired, publishers have begun to consider producing ebooks themselves.
In recent years, UBC Press has attempted to move some aspects of ebook production in-house.
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However, this shift must necessarily be a gradual one. The Press must first put short-term strategies in place to deal with the ebooks that will be produced by its technology partners in the near future. Only then can the Press begin to consider long-term changes to its own operations that would allow for the production of both print and electronic books in house.
As discussed in the conclusion of Chapter 1, large-scale ebook conversions will continue to take place under the auspices of eBound Canada. And UBC Press seems willing to continue outsourcing its ebook production to large conversion houses through this organization—for the time being.
If this current system of outsourcing is to continue, though, there are various measures that publishers like UBC Press can put in place in order to attain a higher level of quality assurance for their ebooks. At UBC Press, print books typically undergo several stages of review during production. Typeset text is first reviewed by a professional proofreader, as well as the author. Any corrections to these pageproofs are then collated by staff and entered by the typesetter.
The final laser proofs provided by the printer are verified once more by a production editor before being approved for print. However, when the Press began to publish ebooks, these steps—or their digital equivalent—were not being carried out. As a result, ebooks are not subject to the same kind of rigorous review that print books are. The need for better quality control over ebooks was the topic of a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Digital Book World, an online community forum whose events are sponsored by industry professionals and companies like Aptara and Ingram Publishing Group.
During this discussion, Laura Dawson, Digital Managing Editor for Hachette Book Group, recommended that publishers take measures to review their ebooks—even especially if these ebooks were produced out of house by a technology partner. However, UBC Press would benefit from the standardization of theproofreading process. One way of doing this, Laura Dawson suggests, is to create a central document that outlines the quality control procedures that should be performed by those handling ebooks in-house. See Appendix A. If production staff were to start budgeting time for this activity and for further rounds of revisions and review, as needed , those in marketing would have a more realistic sense of when an electronic edition of a title will be available for distribution.
Normalizing the proofreading process would also result in ebooks being reviewed in-house on a regular basis, not just when extra help is available from student employees, who are typically hired during the summer months. Liz Kessler, Publisher of Adams Media, points out that it may, in fact, be more advantageous to have the same publishing staff be responsible for the quality of print books and ebooks. Kessler notes that editors and proofreaders work most closely with a title, and are most familiar with the content and formatting requirements of a particular manuscript.
These same staff are therefore best suited to reviewing ebooks, as they will notice irregularities and omissions more easily than an intern or co-op student who has little to no familiarity with that manuscript. Reassigning proofreading tasks to relevant members of the publishing team may also redress the human resource problem identified in the previous chapter.
Instead of making ebooks the sole responsibility of one overburdened staff member, the publisher can draw from the expertise of several employees. By doing so, the publisher would also turn ebooks into a shared concern of the publishing team, as has long been the case with print books. As was mentioned in Chapter 3, the metadata within these files is often incomplete, and this affects the visibility and identifiability of that digital object once it is in the supply chain. Solving this problem will require cooperation from both publishers and technology partners.
Publishers will need to stipulate higher metadata standards within their statements of work, as well as provide more detailed publication information to their technology partners. These technology partners would, in turn, need to respect the standards outlined in their contracts and take the time to embed the provided metadata within the files they produce, even if this means inserting it manually. Furthermore, it would behoove both publishers and their technology partners to adopt the standards recommended by the International Digital Publishing Forum IDPF , an industry association that creates and maintains technology standards in order to encourage interoperability within the field of electronic publishing.
The IDPF recommendations would also provide an opportunity for publishers to supply additional information about their titles: for instance, the subject categories listed on the Cataloguing in Publication page within a print book could be included as values for the subject element in an ebook, e. This granular level of data is helpful for marketing purposes, and it may also make cataloguing easier for institutions or for individuals who use programs like Calibre to store and manage their personal ebook libraries.
While most of the eyesores resulted from formatting errors, these ebooks on the whole lacked the styling and attention to design found in their print counterparts, and in the EPDFs, which retained the layout of the original print books. However, publishers who outsource ebook production can exercise more control over the appearance of their EPUBs by creating or commissioning their own stylesheets, a practice that many leading publishers have already adopted. These CSS files determine the styling of the content documents and can therefore control certain aspects of the ebook, such as paragraph alignment, typeface, relative font size, line spacing, etc.
From the viewpoint of print production, stylesheets are best seen as the EPUB equivalent to the layout templates used to format and typeset a print book. See discussion of Wild Element below. Using stylesheets to shape the appearance of content would not only enhance the production value of these ebooks, but it would also provide visual consistency between ebooks, thereby allowing UBC Press to extend its brand to those files being produced by another party. Stylesheets could also reduce the possibility of formatting errors by imposing stylistic uniformity on the text and images.
While a stylesheet can enhance the surface appearance of an ebook, the best solution to sloppy formatting is better-built ebooks. This requires long-term solutions to outsourcing. Finding a More Suitable Technology Partner. When faced with a batch of error-filled ebooks, a publisher can choose to improve upon the files produced by its technology partner, or it can improve upon its choice of technology partner.
Consequently, these scholarly ebooks seem to suffer from an unusually high number of formatting errors. In addition to causing problems during production, the apparatus that comes with academic books also adds to the cost of conversion. This is because, in the fee structures used by large-scale conversion houses, price is often indexed to the length of the text, along with the number of figures and the number of links a given ebook edition will contain. This pricing system effectively penalizes publishers of monographs and reference books, which are typically longer than trade books, and which contain numerous notes and lengthy indices.
One alternative to hiring large conversion houses overseas is to hire smaller ebook design firms, which are cropping up in North America. Instead of signing contracts for bulk orders, these companies tend to work on a project-by-project basis with their clients, much like freelancers do.
This difference in production method seems to stem from a fundamentally different approach to ebook conversion. In fact, UBC Press has already begun to use smaller design companies for specific projects. The Press was particularly concerned that the EPUB edition of this title be attractive, error-free, and ready in time for the launch of the print book, since this title was expected to be a trade crossover with a high-profile publicity campaign.
As the figures below show, its layout reflected a consideration for aesthetics as well as an attention to detail that was missing from the ebooks produced by codeMantra and Innodata. Though the Press was pleased with this one-time, alternative outsourcing experience and with the end product, it is clear that the services offered by a company like WildElement are no replacement for large-scale ebook production. Their emphasis on tailored design and digital craftsmanship seems to align these companies with the letterpress printers, but just like their paper-based counterparts, these companies are restricted in the volume of books they can produce due to the small size of their operations, their attention to detail, and their preference for custom coding.
Ebook design firms are thus unable to process large batches of files as conversion houses do. Because they are situated in North America and hire trained professionals, they face higher labour costs, so their services come at a premium. The EPUB featured above, for instance, cost three to four times as much to produce as a comparable title would through a company like Innodata. Publishers who decide to use such companies will therefore need to be choosier about which titles they publish as ebooks.
These types of decisions would ideally be based on a long-term epublishing strategy. Since its early deals with NetLibrary and Gibson Publishing, the Press has pursued those opportunities which have allowed it to acquire multiple ebook formats for the greatest number of titles at as little cost as possible.
Books that proved too expensive to convert under previous agreements simply were not digitized. University presses should be particularly selective when deciding which titles to convert to the newer EPUB format. Not only is the EPUB format more difficult and expensive to produce, but also its usefulness for academic publishers has yet to be proven. As was explained in Chapter 1, EPUBs are designed for use on tablets and e-reading devices, and are carried by ebook retailers like Kobo and Apple. The EPUB format is therefore aimed at the trade market. However, UP content is not.
These factors should be taken into account, along with any available ebook sales data, as UPs try to determine which of their titles will work as EPUBs. Ultimately, this format may be found to be unsuitable for scholarly publishers. UBC Press has already demonstrated some capacity for in-house ebook production by successfully integrating one ebook format into its own workflow.
Although these enhanced PDFs do not have as many features as the uPDFs produced by CodeMantra,  they are an affordable and efficient alternative to outsourcing. Since these ePDFs began to be produced in house, there is little delay between the publication of print and electronic editions, as the web-ready ePDFs and the simple PDFs used for printing are produced almost simultaneously.
Where the latter is essentially an image of a print book, the former is a collection of marked-up files in a. The Press has considered this prospect in the past. At the time, Fahlgren recommended that the Press create a new workflow that uses styles in Word. If implemented, this method would have resulted in a transfer of styled content from Word to InDesign, and eventually into the EPUB format. As it turns out, authors, freelancers, and staff members had different versions of Word, which made sharing files under this new system even more cumbersome. Staff discovered that styles would be lost during the transfer, or would reappear in one version of Word after having been deleted in another.
This production method also would have required a lot of cleanup along the way, as Microsoft Word is a proprietary software program that produces a lot of idiosyncratic and extraneous code. Yet staff are understandably skeptical about the prospect of adopting an altogether new mark-up system.
Presumably, then, both the initial tagging and the proofing of these documents would need to be performed by an additional staff member or a freelancer who possesses these skills. Keller also wonders how adopting EPUB production would affect workload and priorities within her department. In fact, textual markup is an extension of the editorial function, as it involves identifying the elements and structure of a manuscript.
Though these tags are open not closed and are not nested, they are analogous to the types of XML tags used in the content files of an EPUB: both types of tags are a form of semantic markup that describe the different parts of a document so that they can later be expressed or manipulated in a certain way. With a minimal amount of staff training, this process could be modified to include XML markup.
If the Press were to start out with well-tagged content, they could use the same source file to produce both print and electronic versions of a title.
Table of contents
This workflow would be much more efficient than the current system, wherein content is first formatted for print only, and must later be stripped and tagged with XML afterward in order to produce an EPUB. DocBook is an XML schema commonly used in the production of books. The TEI guidelines, which have been under development since the s, have come to form a standard for the representation of texts in digital form within the humanities.
Although TEI has largely been used to digitize those texts used as primary sources within humanities research i. Because the TEI was developed to describe physical manuscripts, it can accommodate the type of textual elements commonly found in scholarly books, like notes and tables.
It also contains more specialized element groups that could be used to tag UP texts that are at present rather tricky to produce as ebooks. However, the TEI has a dictionary module and a set of elements that identify language corpora. This comprehensive tag set could help identify these special elements up front and preserve them during conversion. Members of the digital humanities community have long anticipated the applications of TEI in scholarly publishing. In June , a special interest group on this topic was formed at the Association of American University Presses.
University of North Carolina. Other academic institutions have also adopted digital publishing workflows based in TEI encoding. Using a TEI-first workflow would therefore allow publishers to export their EPUBs more directly, instead of having to prepare a manuscript for print first and convert it afterward.
Yet the addition of this TEI tagging process would not entirely disrupt the print-based production workflow currently used by publishers like UBC Press. Documents tagged in TEI can also be imported into traditional desktop publishing programs like InDesign, where they can then be shaped for the printed page Reed. In addition to producing print and electronic books more efficiently, TEI would allow university presses to repurpose their content in other ways. In the future, TEI documents could be used to create other academic resources, such as online databases or archives, should a press wish to expand its digital publishing activities to include these types of products.
Because TEI is used primarily by members of the academic community, there may be opportunities for publishers to partner with digital humanists and electronic text centres that already exist within universities. The Journal Incubator at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta provides an inspiring example of for how students may take on support roles in digital scholarly publishing. Students who are placed at the Incubator through graduate assistantships and co-op placements acquire training in editorial and production skills, including XML encoding and processing.
These students then apply these skills while working for the Incubator: their services, which are primarily used to publish electronic journals, are offered to departments within their own institution, as well as those from outside the university. The applications of TEI within scholarly publishing are thus quite promising.
Although it may be too risky for an individual press to experiment with TEI-first publishing on its own, this option should certainly be pursued by industry organizations like the Association of Canadian University Presses. Scholarly publishers may just find a long-term solution to their outsourcing woes by looking within their own university communities for expertise and assistance.
There are several ways for publishers to avoid error-filled files and ensure better quality ebooks. Publishers can reduce the number of formatting errors by proofreading their ebooks in-house; they can also enhance the appearance of their EPUBs by applying their own stylesheets. At the same time, by augmenting the metadata contained within these files, publishers can increase the amount of information available on their digital titles and ensure greater discoverability for them once they are in the supply chain.
However, these are short-term solutions to a systemic problem.
If publishers wish to avoid error-filled files in the future, they need to consider more fundamental changes to the way they approach ebook production. This could mean finding a partner that will convert ebooks more carefully, which may, in turn, require publishers to be more selective in the number of titles they convert into EPUBs.
If publishers like UBC Press choose to adopt the EPUB as a standard format for their ebooks, it may behoove them to move ebook production in-house entirely. By doing so, publishers could achieve a consistently better end product. More importantly, they could break their decade-long dependence on large conversion houses that have become a liability. There is also an opportunity for the typecoding system currently used by production editors to be expanded into the kind of XML tagging that would enable the Press to produce EPUBs.
A TEI-first workflow would result in better-tagged documents and easier EPUB exports and it would allow the Press to continue using standard design and layout software to create its print books. As part of the services it provides, UBC Press represents these publishers at Canadian conferences and hand-sells their books at these events. Amazon also sets maximum list prices for publishers. It should be noted, though, that university presses are not alone in charging more for ebooks destined for the library market.
Large trade publishers are also experimenting with higher ebook prices in order to offset a perceived loss in sales that may result from unlimited lending of ebooks through libraries. By staggering the release of formats in this way, the Press encourages libraries—whose goal is to stock new releases in a timely manner—into purchasing more expensive, cloth-bound versions of titles.
The ebrary platform is used by other publishers as a way of distributing their ebooks e. For books that were commonly used in the classroom, UBC Press decided to convert these titles, but withheld the files from the CEL collection so as to protect the print sales that came from course adoptions.
The term itself is protected under copyright. Smith also discuss this phenomenon as it relates specifically to Amazon. Both Questia and ebrary operated on slightly different revenue model than NetLibrary. Instead of selling unlimited access to a whole ebook, these companies charged by usage. For instance, the POD PDF, which took less time and effort to produce, was the least expensive ebook format, whereas the EPUB, which required a good deal of additional coding, was the most expensive.
It has been shown that misspellings in website copy negatively affect online sales, as they raise doubts over the credibility of the website. In one UK study, revenue per visitor doubled after a single typo was fixed Coughlan. Those who work within the publishing industry have also pointed out to the real cost of errors like typos see Heffernan. The program does not prompt staff to open or preview the files created by CodeMantra before sending them out to various distribution channels. Given that professional proofreaders are much more thorough, a formal review process would likely cost a great deal more time and money if carried out by a hired freelancer.
In other words, it contains information about the file itself, in addition to containing a manifest of all the other content files in the EPUB package. Unlike the uPDFs produced by CodeMantra, the indexes and tables of contents in these files are not linked to the main text.
These features could be achieved in-house, but it would take a considerable amount of time for the staff to implement them. As is seen here, the TEI community takes a collaborative and transparent approach to textual encoding and digital workflows. This ensures that TEI-based publishing practices are open and accessible. Check the cover for image quality.
Make sure that the image is clear and the type legible. Check the spelling against the full title page on the interior, if necessary. Scroll down to the copyright information page usually p. Make sure it is the paperback CIP page: i. Make sure the ToC page is linked. Click on a chapter title to go to the opening page of that chapter. Click on the title again to return to the ToC page. Make sure there is a bookmark for each chapter, and that there are no typos in the chapter titles. Click on the bookmarks—including the bookmark for the Cover Page—to make sure that they link to the right page.
If the book contains endnotes, click on some of the supernumerals: these should take you to the appropriate chapter in the Notes section. Click on the note number again to return to the main text. Spotcheck other internal links e. When checking hyperlinks, make sure the pop-up blocker on your browser is turned off. Make sure the pages in the PDF file are numbered correctly. The number indicated in the menu bar above should match the number on the page. The prelim pages for the title page, etc. Spotcheck the page numbers in the index to make sure they are linked, and that they take you to the right place.
Links for page ranges p. Before opening the file, you need to validate it—i. To do this, upload the file to Epubcheck, an online validation tool from Threepress Consulting. If the EPUB is valid, a green checkmark will appear. If it is invalid, a red X and an error message will appear. Do not use Sigil to proof these files: in order to open a file within this program, you have to unzip i.
To do this, some programs require you to move the file into the program instead of just viewing the file via the program. If this is the case, make duplicate copies of the files before importing them into the library. If you have an e-reading device on hand e. You can also use a designated ereading device like a Kobo or Nook to view the file; however, at this point in time, Kindles do not read EPUBs and so cannot be used to proof these files.
UBC Press has purchased an iPad for this purpose. Check with Laraine or Peter for permission and instructions on how to use this device. Make sure that the image is clear, that the type is legible, and that the cover is not stretched horizantally or is too small. Check the spelling against the title page, if necessary. Make sure that the copyright information page and series page if used have been moved from the beginning of the file to the end of the file. Make sure that the CIP page is the paperback version: i.
There are two ToCs to check: the embedded ToC that appears in the body of the text, and the navigational ToC that appears beside it. To view the embedded ToC, scroll down through the prelimary pages until you reach the Table of Contents. Make sure the items on the ToC page are linked. There is usually a Bookmark or Contents button that you can click to view the bookmarked ToC. In Adobe Editions, there is also a small arrow that you can click and drag to expand this viewing pane. Check for problems with tables e. This tends to happen often with Asian characters, but can also happen with accented letters in French words.
You will be able to tell if they are images because they will not seem aligned with the rest of the text, and cannot be resized. Spotcheck internal links. If the book contains endnotes, click on some of the supernumerals: these should take you to the appropriate place in the Notes section. If checking hyperlinks, make sure the pop-up blocker on your browser is turned off. Unlike the ePDF, the text here is reflowable. Most ereading devices will allow you to view the metadata for an EPUB file, but in order to do this on a computer, you usually need to open up the EPUB file. Look for the.
OPF file. Right-click on the. If the ISBN number is missing, take note of this. This cover should also be the full-wrap cover, with front, back, and spine—not just the front cover. Because this file is destined for print, it will not have a linked ToC or any other interactive features contained in the other ebook files. Castro, Elizabeth. Coughlan, Sean. July 13, Crawley, Devon. Heffernan, Virginia. MacDonald, Scott. Murray, Chelsea. Ng-See-Quan, Danielle. Sewell, David and Kenneth Reid. Association of American University Presses website.
Smith, Briony. Wittenberg, Kate. Digital Book World. September 29, Lovett, Michael. September 14, Salo, Dorothea. Brand, Megan. Knight, Alison Elaine. Baldwin, John R. Goss Gilroy Inc. The main goal of this report is to offer insight into the ways that various departments of a publishing house can practically analyze sales data and utilize the information creatively and strategically to grow its editorial vision, guide its marketing decisions, and improve book sales.
Special thanks to Jamie for helping me to formulate the topic for my report, and for your invaluable input and insight into the world of book marketing and publicity. I would like to thank Todd Stocke at Sourcebooks for taking the time to share your publishing experiences. It is very much appreciated. Thanks also to Heidi Weiland for helping to connect me with the right staff person at Sourcebooks. To the MPub folks, my thanks to John Maxwell and Rowland Lorimer for your input and guidance in completing this report, and to the rest of the faculty and Jo-Anne Ray for your advice and assistance throughout the program.
To my husband, Tyler, thank you for your unwavering support, love, and understanding throughout my time in grad school. It is what kept me going. Table 3. The book publishing industry has gone through major changes over the past few decades with the contraction of traditional media outlets and the expansion of new technologies.
The persistent issues of poor supply chain practices and massive returns continue to this day. Now added to that are the questions and concerns over adapting to new technologies such as ebooks, web publishing and social media. Technology is always evolving and publishers are expected to be open to adapt to change to keep their businesses thriving. In the past decade since the turn of the century, one major development in the book publishing industry in North America is the establishment of sell-through data reporting services.
Sell-through data reveals where, when, and how many copies of a product, in this case a book, is bought by a customer at a retailer. Nielsen BookScan and BookNet Canada are the organizations that respectively provide American and Canadian book sales data to their industry subscribers. Prior to this, publishers often acted in the dark and could only find out about how their books were doing via returns, which sometimes came back months later.
They would have had to maintain close relationships with retailers to keep tabs on how their own titles were doing on a regular, weekly basis. It was a time-consuming process. Now, sell-through reporting services allow publishers to track the performance of not only their own titles, but also those from their competitors, in a timely manner. This development has had significant implications within the industry, and has influenced all aspects of book publishing, from editorial to marketing and sales departments.
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As with all advancements in technology, there is need for continued research, gathering of information and understanding of best practices to shape the future of the book and the publishing business in the midst of these changes. This report seeks to examine the practical implications that sell-through reporting has had on some publishers and how sales data can be leveraged successfully in the business of book publishing. The main goal of this report is to offer insight into ways that publishers can practically analyze sell-through data so that the various personnel in editorial, marketing, publicity, and sales departments can utilize the information creatively and strategically to grow their editorial vision, guide their marketing decisions, and improve sales of their books.
To accomplish this goal, this report examines how sell-through reporting has revolutionized the business strategies of Sourcebooks and Raincoast Books since the introduction of BookScan and BookNet in the United States and Canada. It will look at how these two companies leverage sell-through data in the process of developing their list of books, getting them into the market and into the hands of consumers. The strategies explored in this report are particularly applicable to publishers of non-fiction and genre fiction titles where a specialty reputation can be established within niche communities.
The approach can help push sales of mid-list titles, or frontlist titles that are not blockbusters from the outset, and possibly turn them into bestsellers over time. The information in this report was collected in the period of April to December , which includes the three months of my summer internship with the marketing and publicity department at Raincoast Books. It was obtained from interviews conducted with the staff at Sourcebooks and Raincoast Books, personal staff emails, marketing materials provided by the staff, analysis of bnc SalesData, books and journals from the Simon Fraser University Library and database, as well as blogs, websites, and magazine and newspaper articles found online.
Founded in , Raincoast Books provides comprehensive sales, marketing, and distribution services to a select number of international publishers. It distributes books on a wide range of topics including food, health, kids, pop culture, travel, as well as gift products such as notebooks and stationery.
In , Raincoast Books signed a distributor contract with an independent us publisher, Sourcebooks, and began shipping its titles in January The fourth edition of the book was released in April and was under-performing in Canada compared to sales in the us, a situation similar to every one of its previous three editions.
The senior marketing and sales management staff at Raincoast Books wanted to put more resources into the fourth edition of the book because of the noticeable difference between American and Canadian sales. Why was it that for four editions now, the book continues to sell so well in the us—with the fourth edition becoming a New York Times bestseller—but consistently does so poorly in Canada?
Now that the issue is identified, how can it be fixed? During my internship with Raincoast Books from April to July , I was assigned to help with marketing and publicity initiatives to boost the Canadian sales of The Naked Roommate. I decided to analyze the case for this report.
Using the book as a case study, the report analyzes how Sourcebooks developed its line of college-bound books through analysis of sell-through data, and the strategies it implemented to successfully grow the title into a New York Times bestseller over four editions after six years.
The report focuses on the college guide market and the decision-making process to provide observations on how the considerations and strategies can be adjusted for future publishing seasons and perhaps be extrapolated onto other categories of books.
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Book publishing has never been an easy business. If one takes some time to read the books about the industry over the recent decades, it will not take long before one discovers the list of challenges that publishers consistently face up to this day. In the book, In Cold Type , author Leonard Shatzkin , provides a sobering description of the stark difference between books and other consumer products that was apparent back in the eighties. Compared to other consumer products, the book publishing industry has a larger number of suppliers publishers in relation to distributors retailers , and the suppliers experience a lack of direct influence over the distribution system.
Not many other consumer industries have products with so short a shelf life as books, where each individual product has its own personality and requires different marketing methods 3. As such, sales of books tend to vary unpredictably and at random. Not to mention the limited shelf space of so few retailers.
The book trade has always been a rather unprofitable business which operates close to the break-even point 9. Up until the end of the twentieth century, publishers were mostly acting in the dark due to the lack of access to real-time sales statistics to forecast market trends accurately. It was difficult to discern sales patterns to see how well or poorly a book was doing until much later—sometimes months later—when the publishers receive returns. However, the book publishing industry was in for a turn of events when Nielsen BookScan was introduced in Previously, tracking of book sales was not done using concrete raw data, but rather by estimation whereby a survey and sampling of sales from a few selected retailers was used to estimate the patterns of the larger population Dreher The rankings would be published without the actual sales figures, which meant that there would be no way to tell the difference between first and second place, or first and fiftieth place.
After BookScan was formed, it would eventually be treated as the authoritative source on book point-of-sale data. Related Searches. The Black Book. When Matthew Quentin finds an old book in their attic, he doesn't know he's about to turn his world upside down. After his View Product. The Book of Black Magic.
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