Publishers of technology books, eBooks, and videos for creative people

Home > Articles > Web Design & Development > Blogs

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

The publishing process

According to Aptara’s survey (see above), the majority of publishers still follow a traditional print process. To achieve full, device-independent publishing, however, the traditional workflow must change.

Traditional publishing

In a traditional publishing workflow, each book or document is created by one author using some form of text editor or word processor. The document is created, edited, and published as one entity, or possibly a series of chapters, and it doesn’t interact with anything else (see Figure 4.1).

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.1. Traditional publishing workflow.

Advantages

  • Traditional publishing represents a typical, familiar workflow.
  • Familiarity makes it easy to use for existing authors and editors.
  • eBooks are created by a technology partner skilled in the conversion of print-oriented content to functional eBooks.

Disadvantages

  • The file is managed as a complete document.
  • Print-oriented content is converted, rather than specifically designed for eBooks.
  • Future changes must be done in the production copy, or the content must be exported back out to Microsoft Word and then re-laid out for a new publication.

Note that in this scenario the creation of successful eBooks depends on the publisher’s understanding of the nature of the eBook they want to produce and the clear communication of those requirements to the technology partner.

This workflow is very effective for the conversion of the publisher’s backlist.

In-house eBook publishing

The in-house publishing workflow for eBooks is very similar to the traditional publishing workflow except for the end product, which is digital, not paper (see Figure 4.2). Publishers use the same publishing software to publish to an EPUB file that they use for print. EPUB, short for electronic publication, is an open standard for electronic books from the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and is used by the majority of eReaders. In addition, the publishing software may provide the ability to publish to other channels such as Web or mobile.

Figure 4.1

Figure 4.2. In-house eBook publishing workflow.

Advantages

  • In-house eBook publishing represents a typical, familiar workflow.
  • Familiarity makes it easy to use for existing authors and editors.
  • The publisher creates their own eBooks from the publishing software.

Disadvantages

  • The file is managed as a complete document.
  • Print-oriented content is converted; it is not specifically designed for eBooks or other channels.
  • Future changes must be done in the production copy, or the content must be exported back out to Microsoft Word then re-laid out for publication.

In-house eBook publishing often feels like the easiest route for publishers because they don’t have to change any of their process or their technology. However, the content is often constrained by the print paradigm. It’s a difficult task to publish in different ways depending on the channel and the device. More often than not, it ends up as a simple conversion (different look-and-feel), rather than optimized output for each channel and device.

In a recent discussion with a new client of ours, they spoke about the challenges of creating eBooks. The output to the EPUB format was pretty simple, but testing on different devices revealed a number of display problems and usability issues. They were spending weeks “hand tweaking” the output for each device, and with each new device, the job got larger and more arduous.

XML early

Recognizing the challenges they face in publishing to multiple channels and the proliferation of devices, some publishers are choosing to use XML (Extensible Markup Language) in their publishing workflow. XML is a set of rules for encoding documents.

“XML early” means converting your content to XML early on in your workflow to enable you to produce content for multiple channels and to easily reuse content. (See Figure 4.3.)

Figure 4.3

Figure 4.3. XML early publishing workflow.

XML enables you to design and prepare content in a way that’s completely portable and open, which in turn enables a wide range of applications that allows you to automate common content tasks such as formatting. If you make the content intelligent by tagging and structuring it, and then if you design and prepare it for discovery and reuse, you’re freed from managing content within the “black boxes” of completed books. For more information on XML refer to Chapter 19, “The role of XML.”

Advantages

  • Edits can be handled online using collaborative review tools. This speeds up the editing and allows multiple editors to work on the content simultaneously. Change tracking is supported in these tools.
  • XML can be configured to support reuse across media (print, eBooks, apps, and so on).
  • XML can be optimized to support current and future products (for example, article compendiums, eLearning, and custom books from selected chapters).
  • Corrections and changes to content are done in the XML content and “repoured” into each of the outputs. There’s no need to transfer content back and forth.

Disadvantages

  • Copy editors and others involved in the publishing workflow need to become increasingly comfortable with working largely online and with new software.
  • The concept of WYSIWYG no longer exists because content can be published in multiple formats.
  • Content is created and managed as components, which may be a paradigm shift for some people.
  • Production staff need to learn to work with structured templates and cannot continue to manually tweak content.
  • While most people in the organization don’t need to understand XML, at least one individual will need a strong understanding of XML.

Although XML early has the most advantages, XML can be incorporated into your workflow at any point. You might choose to incorporate it somewhere in the middle of your workflow, with content created in Microsoft Word, but converted to XML after the final manuscript was approved. This could be a long-term strategy, or it might be a short-term strategy only—a stepping-stone on the way to creating a full XML-based workflow.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account