OOH Publishing Blog

The rights and permissions machine

Alex Whittleton


Behind much of the colourful, compelling content we consume on a daily basis, there’s a story involving rights, permissions and conversations about copyright. More essential than it is exciting, perhaps, the rights and permissions machine toils away behind the publishing scenes to gain access to the third-party photos, illustrations and text extracts that bring so much of our book content to life. This week, we’re taking a closer look at this much-overlooked part of the publishing process.

It may not fire your imagination in the way that other conversations about content do, but clearing permissions for the reuse of third-party materials is – and has always been – a vital part of the publishing process. The copyright for much of the engaging material we often take for granted in books – as well as in eBooks and on websites, of course – is owned by a third-party who chooses whether or not they will grant the rights to their intellectual property.

It’s only fair, then, that formal requests for reuse are submitted to these rights-holders, who – if all goes according to plan – will probably grant permission. It’s worth noting that if a publisher goes ahead and includes the chosen material in their publication without clearance, then they are likely to be infringing copyright and committing a sueable offence.

An essential, ethical process

So essential is the permissions-clearance process in conducting business ethically that publishers nearly always employ a member of staff or an entire team – depending on the size of the organisation – to ensure that full authorisation is obtained and the whole process runs smoothly. Budgets are set to cover the fees for the cleared materials, and online project-management tools, such as SmartSheet, are frequently used to track clearance progress and add source details, reference numbers and credits.

Some large organisations have ongoing relationships with the biggest and best picture libraries – including Alamy, Shutterstock and Getty 360 – in order to drive down reuse costs and automatically cover certain rights, including print and electronic, world all languages, unlimited print run and ten-year term. These agreements also often feature royalty-free deals at special rates, so that publishers can use content multiple times at no extra cost.

The whole process can work the other way, too, with publishers being asked to grant permission for their content to be reused by others. But in whatever direction the deal goes, efficiency and economy are key.

As Kevin Stewart, publishing-contracts consultant and tutor at The Publishing Training Centre says: “The Permissions Administrator is tasked with ensuring that the best mix for your company is achieved to make the work of dealing with permissions as smooth and profitable (or, at least, cost-effective) as possible.”

Permissions for project success

Given the repercussions of a failure to adhere to copyright law, many publishers actively worry about the clearance process. Not only can whole projects derail if the relevant permissions aren’t granted in time or prove too expensive, but the use of content without permission can result in legal action being taken against the perpetrating publisher.

In short, the way that permissions are cleared has the potential to make or break a project, or even an entire brand. And that’s why the process is so stringent, with multiple sign-off stages, meticulous tracking, regular catch-ups and top-notch communication.

Here at Out of House Publishing, we have a specialist permissions team to do the leg-work when it comes to requesting access to third-party content for your titles. If you don’t have the time or energy for the nitty-gritty of copyright issues, or just need a little support with clearance, please do get in touch. We look forward to hearing from you!

Do you need any help with your permissions? Get in touch below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Kate Ter Haar for the image.


Education publishing in 2015 – top 7 trends

Alex Whittleton


At the beginning of the year, we love nothing more than to indulge in a bit of future-gazing. Which trends and innovations are likely to gain momentum in the months ahead? What’s in store for publishers, educators and readers? Below are the fruits of our speculation – our top seven predictions for education and scholarly publishing in 2015. Unsurprisingly, technology takes centre stage.

Edtech evolves

Edtech is a subject we’ve touched on already in this blog – and no wonder. Arguably the most exciting development area in the industry, the intersection between education and technology is evolving at incredible speed. Check out our two blogs on this burgeoning business, which explore exciting collaborations between tech talent and publishing giants Pearson and OUP, respectively. What’s next, we wonder? We’ll have to wait and see.

Textbook innovation

Recent changes to the national curriculum have resulted in a glut of new publishing at GCSE and A-Level. The new version, which involves less standardised assessment, offers schools a refreshing amount of freedom when it comes to choosing teaching resources. All this amounts to a more open and competitive market for publishers. Interestingly, though digital is certainly a growth area, much of this new publishing will be in print.

In praise of HTML5

In its newest form, the mark-up language that underpins the Internet looks set to revolutionise publishing. Not only does this clever document format promise a streamlined workflow – increasing efficiency and saving money – but, in supporting the latest tech trends, it’s shaping up to be the most exciting and intuitive way of producing digital content ever – particularly ePubs, which are built using the language. Great news for education and scholarly publishers, who are in for a big ePub year (see below).

Embracing open access

After years of fierce debate between academics, publishers, researchers, libraries and educational institutions on how best to manage open access (or OA, as it’s more commonly known), the world is finally getting to grips with the model – particularly the economics of it. With this in mind, 2015 is likely to see publishers embrace OA and, with the rise of mega journals and the online communities that support them, an improved peer-review process seems inevitable.

iOS 8 and iBooks

Apple’s recent release of iOS 8 hailed a new era in education publishing. Why? Because amidst its array of flashy new features came a pre-installed version of the brand’s signature eBook app – iBooks. The move has made access to interactive non-fiction content, for which iBooks is best known, easier than ever. No surprise, then, that educational publishers are exploiting this exciting platform like never before.

Self-publishing settles in

Thanks to the power and reach of digital technology, publishing has become one of the most democratic industries around – as the eBook self-publishing boom of recent years so vividly attests. Content is now more accessible and shareable than ever. It’s a trend that’s here to stay, in every category from trade fiction to academic publishing – with many authors balancing their “indie” output alongside traditional publishing deals.

Outsourcing in overdrive

With more pressure than ever on publishers, the outsourcing of production – which often involves using an offshore company – has become par for the course. This very practical response to a highly pressurised publishing climate has been gathering pace over the last few years, and looks set to continue in the coming months – especially for academic publishers, who are feeling the squeeze acutely.

Do you have a hunch about what lies ahead for education and academic publishing? Let us know your thoughts below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to lrs08e for the image.


HTML5 – the language of 21st-century publishing

Alex Whittleton


HTML, the mark-up language that’s used to create websites, might be 20 years old, but its newest incarnation has only been around – in an official capacity, at least – for a few weeks. And it boasts a whole host of smart new functions that make it ideal for expressing feature-rich content. Here, we take a look at the software that’s widely thought to be the future of digital publishing.

HyperText Markup Language (HTML) is the very fabric of the Internet. In its most basic form, it’s a series of tags that describe how to present and structure content. The tags are then read by web browsers and converted into audio or visual content accordingly. These are the web pages that we see every day.

Over the years, there have been countless iterations of the language – in fact, it’s still evolving and will continue to do so. But in its cleverest and most current form, the language supports the latest trends in technology, from the rise of tablets to the demand for embedded video and audio content.

Digital content made easy

So what does this mean for the publishing industry? First and foremost, that HTML5 could provide publishers with the most exciting and intuitive way yet of producing digital content – particularly eBooks, which are already made using HTML.

Up until now, the book-publishing process has comprised a handful of stages that use different software. Sanders Kleinfeld, Director of Publishing Technology at O’Reilly Media, explains this traditional publishing model in the following way: “You author in a word-processing application, typeset and design in a desktop-publishing application and finally convert/export the content for print”.

So by producing an eBook, you’re effectively adding another conversion stage to the end of an already long and relatively disjointed process. With HTML5, on the other hand, we have the opportunity to rid ourselves of the digital “conversion” process altogether. Below, we explain how.

Going, going, gone

The digital-conversion business has been booming over the past decade. With the rise of digital publishing, countless companies have launched around the world with the sole purpose of taking print content and converting it to digital forms. This new breed of business has been so prolific, in fact, that digital conversion – including troubleshooting, clean-up and finally, output – has become a mini-industry in its own right.

But it’s a time-consuming and costly process. And with society’s tech obsession hurtling ever onwards, there’s a pressing need to find a less cumbersome, more streamlined workflow. Cue HTML5, and the “single-source workflow” it promises; in other words, one set of documents are used from cradle to grave, eliminating the need for conversions of any kind. Several leading lights in the industry are already trying it out.

A case study

The US company O’Reilly Media is one such proponent of this newly streamlined workflow, which has HTML5 at its heart. To showcase their idea, they built Atlas – a publishing tool for writing, editing and illustrating content that offers one-click print- and digital-publishing options. By standardising the formats of both source and output files – using HTMLBook, their own version of HTML5, for both – PDFs, ePUB and Mobi files are easier than ever to create.

“With this build functionality, Atlas effectively eliminated any cost or time entailed in the ebook conversion process, making it possible to release content into the market early and frequently”, says Kleinfeld.

Other highlights of the platform include the option to apply “themes” to alter the design – again, at the click of a button – and a user-friendly, collaborative interface to make in-text editing a breeze for contributors, be they authors, editors or production staff.  All in all, it’s a smart and simple way to churn out high-quality content in digital formats.

The bigger picture

In summary, the publishing possibilities brought about by HTML5 are massive. Not only is its development encouraging a “digital first” approach to content – a prerequisite for successful publishing today – but it’s increasing the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the entire publishing process, allowing more creativity and agility than ever before.

Although the trend for using this innovative document format in publishing is still very much in its infancy, we’d bet our bottom dollar that in a few years’ time, creating content in HTML5 will be as routine a practice as using Microsoft Word and Adobe Indesign is right now. We’ll have to wait and see…

What’s your view on HTML5 in publishing? Let us know your thoughts below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Zhao! for the image.


Frankfurt fever

Alex Whittleton

FBF image

Mid-October in the publishing calendar can only mean one thing: the Frankfurt Book Fair. The world’s biggest and busiest trade fair for books, which took place last week, attracts thousands of industry experts looking to launch books, talk trends, strike deals and network like crazy. Here, we lift the lid on a 500-year-old event that’s looking resolutely to the future.

For five days every year, the German city of Frankfurt – best known as Europe’s largest financial hub – comes alive with thousands of media types from across the world. Here, in several large halls, publishers, agents, authors, booksellers and many other industry experts get together to celebrate and sell books, in all their many forms.

Crazy numbers

In a spectacular show that puts the London Book Fair firmly in the shade, the FBF involves a staggering 7,300 exhibitors, 280,000 attendees and 9,000 journalists, who gather for a book-marketing opportunity of epic proportions.

The fair’s rather mind-boggling agenda includes some 3,400 talks, readings, panel discussions, seminars and TV and radio programmes, among other micro-events. And that’s not to mention the – literally, countless – individual meetings that take place between attendees from a total of 110 different countries. In short, it’s a colourful, cutting-edge event of almost unimaginable scope.

Join the club

This year’s FBF saw the opening of a new Business Club, which is thought to have attracted 3,000 people with its conferences, consultations and networking services for entrepreneurs and publishing specialists of every kind.

As Richard Charkin, CEO of Bloomsbury UK, said of the enterprise: “It is important that we never forget how our common interests are greater than our differences. The pressure on all sectors of the publishing industry has never been greater; yet at the same time, there have never been so many opportunities.”

Talking tech

More than ever, globalisation and digitisation were dominant themes at the fair. Some of the greatest minds in technology – from established brands, ambitious start-ups, and everything in between – discussed a series of pressing issues, including the rise of Big Data and evolving mobile technologies.

This year, the FBF announced its first ever Innovation Partner – an honour that was awarded to Samsung. The tech giant’s role at the event was overwhelmingly clear, with its many roving representatives and prominently placed devices – namely, to showcase the digital-reading capabilities of its flagship Galaxy devices.

As the FBF director, Juergen Boos, said: “Book publishers are expanding the scope of their opportunities to the maximum. They are experimenting with content and technologies, and that spirit of invention pervades the Book Fair.”

Young people, reading and education

Unsurprisingly, given the current media obsession with all things Scandi, the guest of honour this year was Finland, which had a presence in nearly every exhibition hall. The country’s focus was on youth literature and reading.

In fact, young people were in the spotlight on several more occasions at the fair: a series of round-table discussions, talks and meetings focused on education and were attended by CEOs from leading publishing houses and learning establishments. Topics ranged from cultural and education policy to developments in education to the role of technology in learning.

Future focus

An exciting event for anyone in the publishing business, the FBF is a place where contacts are made, deals are struck and competition surreptitiously weighed up – in lecture halls, at meeting tables or down any number of nameless, maze-like corridors.

Time and time again at the FBF, under the glaring strip lights of one of Europe’s largest, hottest and most bustling exhibition centres, the bedrock of future business is formed, for publishers big and small.

Did you go to Frankfurt this year? Let us know how it went below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Picturepest for the image.


London Book Fair 2014 – the lowdown

Alex Whittleton


For three days every spring, Earls Court Exhibition Centre in southwest London becomes a pilgrimage site for publishers, booksellers, literary agents, librarians and countless other industry experts from across Europe and beyond. The annual London Book Fair – the second-largest book-publishing trade fair in the world after Frankfurt – is a mesmerising modern-day marketplace that has to be seen to be believed. And with LBF 2014 kicking off tomorrow, now’s your chance to grab a ticket and head on down.

Over the last few decades, this one-time trade show for librarians has grown into a media mecca on a truly global scale. The event attracts more than 25,000 people from at least 100 countries; it features 1,700 stand-holders and almost 600 individual meeting places, where back-to-back discussions take place almost seamlessly over the three-day period.

What’s what

The event’s ‘market focus’ initiative throws the spotlight on a particular country or region of note; on its publishing industry, trade links and potential for commercial and cultural partnerships. At LBF 2014, this role is fulfilled by Korea, which boasts one of the top 10 publishing markets on the planet and is considered to be a rising star on the literary scene.

Other highlights include a digital-publishing conference and 300-plus seminars, talks and micro-events that make up the event’s educational programme. Every year, there’s a reliably impressive line-up of speakers, from established and aspiring authors to experienced agents and booksellers to trailblazing technologists. The choice of where to go and what to see is dizzying.

And so is the atmosphere. In fact, the exciting event – at times – approaches sensual overload. In the vast exhibition space, the overhead lights are bright, the lively chatter is incessant and, at every turn, brash, bright logos scream out brand after bookish brand. For anyone with a stake in the publishing industry, the obligatory wander from stand to stand can be an almost intoxicating experience.

Future gazing

A hotbed of networking, publicity, rights negotiations and distribution deals, the eagerly anticipated event is – for many businesses and individuals – absolutely critical to making contacts and building future business. Whether it’s a scheduled meeting, an inspiring lecture or a chance meeting in the maze of corridors that works its way between the countless stands, doors tend to open at the LBF; this is a place where plans are made, deals are stuck and people gaze ambitiously into the future.

And that’s why the Out of House team will be there on each day of the conference – to talk about our business, hear about yours and discover exciting opportunities for collaboration. Whether you need support producing your next academic or education title, advice on XML workflows and eBook conversion, or simply want to discuss digital trends and publishing news, we’d love to meet you.

We’ll be there. Will you? Let us know below, or on Facebook or Twitter.



Next stop Frankfurt

Jo Bottrill

Out of House Managing Director Jo Bottrill will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, meeting with colleagues, customers, suppliers and friends. Drop us a line to arrange a meeting.
Frankfurt is a vital event in the publishing calendar. We will be tweeting (twitter.com/jobottrill) from the event.


Three things you might not know about EPUB

Jo Bottrill
epub logo

The epub logo from IDPF


EPUB is the open access, device independent ebook format being widely adopted across the publishing world. Here are three things you might not already know about EPUB files:

  1. Under the bonnet an EPUB file is a  ZIP file containing mostly XHTML along with image, metadata and indexing files that draw everything together. Copy your EPUB, rename it as a a ZIP and take a look inside. You might think of an EPUB file as being a bit like an InDesign package: there’s a single index bringing all of the constituent parts together. If you’ve converted your backlist content to EPUB then remember that in your ZIP file will be all the constituent parts of your book that (rights permitting) you can store in your Digital Asset Management system for reuse elsewhere.
  2. You can open EPUB files in a standard browser. It is just HTML after all. I use EPUBReader for Firefox.
  3. EPUB files carry their own metadata. This enables retailers and aggregators to read, catalogue and index content without the need for additional data from the publisher. An EPUB is a neat little package with everything it needs to get your content out to the market.

Out of House Publishing provides an excellent backlist to EPUB conversion service. More importantly, we understand the value in adopting structured content early on in the production process. Our XML first workflows mean that EPUB, XML and other digital outputs are delivered seamlessly along with print files.

Why continue converting print to digital when you can run both together? Contact us to find out more.


Reinventing the textbook

Jo Bottrill

Today’s Apple announcement about its new e-book publishing platform and tools could well be the gamechanger we’ve long been expecting.

These tools all require digital content of course, and properly structured content has to be the key to really take advantage of the opportunities of digital publishing. Converting your backlist to structured content like XML and EPUB can really help you unleash the value sitting in your PDF and paper assets. And there are plenty of other platforms and formats out there – EPUB is still very much alive and well.

Use XML to future proof your content and you’ll be ready for the next big publishing announcement!

Contact us now to go digital!


BETT 2012 – integrated workflows required


Leaving Olympia, with armfuls of brochures, leaflets and business cards, my mind is teeming after just one day attending BETT. For 4 days Olympia is transformed into an Aladdin’s Cave of educational technology products to inspire teachers and students alike. There’s no doubt that today’s students are supported by a vast armoury of tools whose scope far outstrips that of the traditional textbook.  As I walked from stand to stand, I asked myself ‘Who is writing the content to exploit this technology to the full?’ Faced with pupils who are technically savvy and expect to use technology for learning, it seems that teachers are responding by writing much of the content themselves. The dominance previously enjoyed by educational publishers is under threat and they are responding and rising to the challenge. Gone are the days when publishers would produce a textbook followed by an accompanying eBook of the same, almost as an afterthought, and shoehorn them both into a blended learning product. Australia and Spain are trailblazing – the former driven by geographical factors, the latter by political ones through the Escuela 2.0 program, whose goal is full digitalisation of Spanish classrooms. But to be successful today in this market, publishers have to consider how to maximise the utility of the print and digital media streams from the outset and to do that production workflows need to adapt.

At Out of House we recognise that markets and products are ever changing and we are making sure that we are well placed to support education publishers through the logistical challenges they face. We are developing robust workflows that will enable publishers to bring top-quality products to market at competitive prices.


Five reasons to adopt XML in your content workflow

Jo Bottrill

Many publishers are adopting XML in their production workflows. Indeed, in the journals industry XML is pretty much ubiquitous. Jo Bottrill gives five good reasons for adopting XML into a production workflow.

  1. Enrich content. Use your XML coded content to turn flat text into rich web/device ready content – from simple links between elements such as tables, references and so on, to smart embedded indexes and links out to external content – XML can really bring your content to life and make it more accessible.
  2. Repurpose content. Switch on multi-channel publishing at the touch of a button – with content encoded in XML against a well established DTD, your content can quickly be output tailored for any device or format (ePub on a web browser for example).  And, with an extensive, well constructed repository of XML content, publishers can more easily meld material from different sources to produce new products and serve new niche markets.
  3. Improve content. With a greater focus on content structure and taking a consistent approach across various product streams, an XML workflow can help improve the quality of content, presenting  ideas in a more consistent pattern with sensible hierarchies.
  4. Future proof content. XML is the native format for holding content and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. With everything properly coded up in XML a publisher is in a perfect position to quickly take advantage of new ways of reading, new methods for enhancing data and new markets.
  5. Increase sales.Ultimately all of this helps publishers diversify their revenue streams. By offering high quality, rich content, tailored to a niche market and delivered via various platforms and devices the scope for improving sales per unit of content increases significantly. 

Contact us to find out more about how Out of House Publishing can help you adopt XML into your production process.