I recently had the good fortune of spending a few days with one of the leading production houses in South East Asia. This is a firm that’s big into ebook conversion and processes literally thousands of books a week from print files to ebooks in various formats. What amazed me most about my time with the conversion team was the volume of brand new titles going through this process.
At Out of House Publishing we’re used to operating an XML first workflow which we use to output XML, HTML and various ebook formats at almost any stage in the production cycle. That so many publishers are still converting back list is baffling to me, so I thought I’d highlight four big advantages of running a combined digital and print workflow, rather than converting post-production:
1. Evolving digital products alongside print helps publishers build in greater interactivity and linking to their digital files, and most importantly gives them more time to check and validate these features. Our copy-editors help us check linked cross references to make sure we hit maximum accuracy.
2. Even the very best conversions throw up some errors, be it with hyphenation turnovers, placement of figures or scrambling of special characters. Again, running digital production with print helps publishers iron out these things early on and avoids conversion errors creeping in under the radar post-production.
3. Authors, editors, marketeers and almost anyone else can be involved in digital product development. Seeing digital products emerge iteratively helps us all identify new opportunities for enhanced features, additional content and marketing ideas. These opportunities are not typically afforded to publishers converting back list titles in large batches.
4. Time to market can be faster. Simultaneously output digital and print files and publishers can have digital product out in the marketplace weeks before printed books. And with evidence that digital products help drive print sales this can drive revenue across the piece.
Don’t get me wrong, ebook conversion continues to do wonders for our industry – helping bring backlist to life and improving revenue in a tightening market. I just think there’s a better way for handling new content.
What other advantages do you see from running digital files alongside print? Are you relying on back list conversion and find it works for you – what are the major advantages over XML first?