Digital publishing is fast becoming a critical requirement for publishers. It’s no longer just a desirable capability; it’s a matter of survival. Most publishers associate digital publishing solely with the production of eBooks and fall short of the mark. The crucial point for publishers today is to prepare their content for multichannel delivery where printed books and eBooks represent only two possible delivery channels.
The digital world offers many more possibilities to use content. Different types of content can now be connected with a wide variety of user experiences (UX): Fiction can be read as digital pages of eBook readers, travel guides can connect their route description to GPS devices, and dictionaries, which provide word definitions within text when and where they’re needed, are incorporated into electronic reading devices.
The publishing industry has already changed dramatically, but this is only the start. It will continue to change and the speed of change is expected to increase exponentially. Traditional handcrafted processes are no longer sustainable and automated processes have become an essential requirement.
Content needs to be understood as an asset in its own right, freed from output-based workflows. Device-independent content creation and delivery processes must be adopted instead.
Digital publishing, a tsunami of change
In the last few years the advent of digital publications (eBooks, enhanced eBooks, eBook apps, and digital editions) has started to dramatically change the way publishers do business. Driven by customer demand, slumping print sales, and increasing digital sales, publishers have been racing to convert their backlist to eBooks and simultaneously to publish to print. Some publishers have begun to publish eBook-first, and others have begun to publish eBook-only versions of content. Most eBooks, though, still resemble printed books. This situation keeps publishers happy with the “old world” but is just the first step at the beginning of a radically changing business model.
Aptara’s third survey of eBook publishers 1 in 2011 provides insight into the changing field:
- The major driver for producing eBooks is increasing revenue (42 percent), followed by increased customer demand (36 percent).
- The majority of book publishers (85 percent) are printing both eBook and print versions of their titles.
- One out of five eBook publishers generates more than 10 percent of their revenue from eBooks.
- Most eBook production still follows outdated print production models at the expense of significant operational efficiencies.
- The greatest eBook challenge (30 percent) is content format and device compatibility issues.