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December 02 2011

Top Stories: November 28-December 2, 2011

Here's a look at the top stories published across O'Reilly sites this week.

Don't blame the information for your bad habits
Clay Johnson, author of "The Information Diet," says information consumption, not the information itself, is what needs to be managed.

Big data goes to work
Alistair Croll looks at how data is shaping consumer expectations and how those expectations, in turn, are shaping businesses. He also examines where business intelligence stops and big data starts.

The paperless book
Todd Sattersten: "The publishing world needs some new language that describes what happens and, more importantly, what is possible when the words are separated from the paper."

How Twitter helps a small bookstore thrive
Learn how Omnivore Books, a cookbook store in San Francisco, uses Twitter to solidify relationships with customers and break through the publisher blockade.

Web-first workflows let publishers focus on the stuff that really matters
In a recent keynote, PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire said web-first workflows streamline book production so publishers can focus on more important matters, such as writing, finding, and editing great books.

Tools of Change for Publishing, being held February 13-15 in New York, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Register to attend TOC 2012.

November 30 2011

Web-first workflows let publishers focus on the stuff that really matters

Book production workflows are on the minds of most publishers today, as the balance in producing books in both print and digital formats continues to be elusive. At the recent Books in Browsers conference, Hugh McGuire (@hughmcguire), founder of PressBooks (which officially launched last week), addressed workflow issues in his keynote address, "The Beauty of Web-first Workflows." McGuire said two separate workflows shouldn't be necessary and that "the beauty of a web-first book production flow is that we can spend a lot more time on the stuff that really matters and less time on the mechanics of getting a book out the door."

Highlights from the keynote video (below) include:

  • "Ebooks are just a special kind of website, designed to be read in a special kind of browser." [Discussed at the 1:30 mark.]
  • The browser wars have been dealt with in terms of websites pretty well, but we're not there yet with books. [Discussed at 2:30.]
  • Paper now is becoming a bigger problem than digital. "Is paper the IE6 of bookmaking in 2011?" Two separate workflows for print and digital shouldn't be necessary. [Discussed at 8:30.]
  • In a world where anyone can design a beautiful template-based website (ala Wordpress, et al.), anyone should be able to produce an ebook or a paper book as easily. This is where book production needs to go, and HTML may be the key. [Discussed at 9:50.]

You can view the entire keynote in the following video.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012


January 03 2011

Offshore book production is a relationship, not a transaction

Saving money and cutting costs are staple items on most publishing meeting agendas. Some publishers have shied away from cost-saving offshore production options, however, because they're afraid quality will suffer, or they fear the transition will cause too much upheaval in current production processes.

Rebecca Goldthwaite, vice president of strategic partner management at Cengage Learning, and Jack Mitchell, senior vice president for the higher education division of PreMediaGlobal, are heading up a workshop on this very topic at the upcoming Tools of Change for Publishing conference. In the following interview, they discuss the offshore production model and how publishers can establish strong, profitable relationships with offshore vendors without sacrificing quality or reinventing their businesses.

What does offshore production entail? Which areas of publishing are most suited for this business model?

Rebecca Goldthwaite and Jack MitchellJack Mitchell: An offshore production model generally entails almost all services that would have been provided by a traditional onshore production and editorial vendor. These services include project management, composition, art rendering, and proofreading, for example.

Rebecca Goldthwaite: Most areas of publishing are well suited for this model and can be completely successful with the right approach.

We've found that partnering with vendors works best. You can't just give the vendor the content, walk away, and then wait for the vendor to return with the finished product. That old transactional model doesn't work, and it's painful for everyone involved. A successful offshore approach requires building a framework and relationship for working together.

TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore "publishing without boundaries" through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

Save 15% off registration with the code TOC11RAD

What do publishers need to do to make sure quality standards are met?

JM: Publishers need to take the same approach they would when starting a new relationship with an onshore vendor. That includes setting clear expectations, maintaining an open dialogue with clear communications, being thorough and consistent with instructions and documentation, and testing projects prior to launching a live product.

RG: This can be particularly important when setting pricing with a new vendor. Without clear expectations or access to sample materials ahead of time, you may be putting your vendor in a situation they can't get out of without cutting corners, and that doesn't benefit anyone.

How can publishers ensure cost savings from an offshore relationship?

JM: A clear understanding of volume, pricing, and schedule will help both parties prepare accordingly. That results in a smoother process and it create areas of efficiency and savings. As a relationship matures, you'll both find ways to be more efficient in working together and identifying new tools that can reduce cost.

RG: You need to do your research up front, set clear expectations, and test things before firm pricing is set. Basically, you both need to know what you're paying for.

How does offshore production affect traditional workflows?

JM: The most obvious change is moving to a paperless and electronic workflow to eliminate shipping costs, which would be substantial when working offshore. This requires training and support for the current publishing staff and, if necessary, the authors they work with. That said, we find most publishers are moving, or have moved, to a paperless workflow regardless of where they're sourcing their production.

This interview was edited and condensed.


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