OOH Publishing Blog

Looking ahead to LBF 2016

Alex Whittleton


It’s that time of year again, when publishers and other industry experts from all over the world gear up for the annual London Book Fair – the second-largest publishing trade fair in the world after Frankfurt. And with LBF 2016 kicking off next month at Olympia in West London, now’s your chance to grab a ticket and prepare for a mesmerising modern-day marketplace of epic proportions.

The London Book Fair, which started life as a trade show for librarians 45 years ago, is now a media mecca on a truly global scale. The event attracts more than 25,000 publishers, booksellers, literary agents, librarians and media suppliers from at least 100 different countries, features 1,700 stand-holders and offers an action-packed calendar of 300-plus seminars, talks and micro-events.

As David Shelley, CEO of Little, Brown and Orion, recently said: “I think LBF is getting more significant all the time…it really feels like a fair to rival Frankfurt. I think certainly, in terms of books, there are noticeably more every year – and more big submissions. I do feel that there is a real buzz about it and that [buzz] seems to be growing all the time.”

So what’s generating the buzz at LBF 2016? Here’s a quick rundown.

New this year

To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death and to honour his incalculable impact on publishing and the arts, LBF 2016 will launch The Shakesperience – a special focus on the Bard, including performances of his much-loved works.

Also new this year are the Literary Festival Award, the Book Store Award and the Trailblazer Awards, which will recognise publishing talent among the under-30s. These three prizes are part of the event’s International Excellence Awards, now in their third year, which are designed to celebrate publishing innovation and success across the world.

Education focus

After its popularity last year, the Scholarly and Research Publishing Forum will be back at LBF 2016. This half-day event addresses the current opportunities and challenges in academic and scholarly publishing, from the disrupting force of digital technologies to the different approaches to funding higher education. The spotlight, this time, will be on the challenges and trends facing research communication.

You can also expect a reappearance of the education conference What Works? Successful Education Policies, Resources and Technologies, which, this year, will examine the impact of new technologies on the curriculum and education standards.

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, education or reference 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.

Thanks to ActuaLitté for the image.


Everything you need to know from the IPG Spring Conference

Alex Whittleton

IPGSC books and iPad

Earlier this month, the Independent Publishers’ Guild spring conference (#IPGSC) took place in the heart of the Oxfordshire countryside. The popular three-day event allows people from across the “indie” book business to share experiences and expertise, put faces to names and generate future business. Naturally, the OOH team was there – here’s the lowdown.

The IPG is the leading trade association representing independent publishers in the UK. The burgeoning community is made up of 560 members of all shapes and sizes, from big-name brands such as Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury to dozens of smaller enterprises, including one-man bands, startups and packagers.

Known for the excellent “advice, benefits and information” it offers its members, the IPG helps businesses to navigate the publishing industry, with its endless challenges and opportunities, not least in the digital space. One of the best membership perks is the annual conference, which typically features more than 25 sessions, including talks and break-out discussions.

At this year’s conference, which took place in the first week of March, speakers included everyone from data specialists to marketers, retailers and publishers.

Here’s everything you need to know:

Shifting power

The running theme of the event was that digital technologies have transformed the publishing business, giving content creators and users more power than ever before. Phil Ollila, Chief Content Officer at Ingram, summed it up perfectly when he said: “There’s a power shift – from publishers and retailers to authors and readers”.

A similar idea came from Sandy Grant of non-fiction publisher Hardie Grant, who explained: “We need to transform our relationship with authors – we have to justify our existence. Self-publishing can look a lot more attractive if we don’t bring enough to the table.”

Books and Facebook

Georgina Atwell, formerly of Apple iBooks and founder of Toppsta, the new review and recommendations community for children’s books, explored the role of Facebook as a discovery and promotion tool – particularly among non-traditional book-buyers. Atwell also reminded publishers of the benefits of well-written, regular posts on the social-media site.

Linked to this were more general discussions about the wealth of online opportunities for indie booksellers.

The power of video

When it comes to getting the most out of your content, video came up time and time again as a great way to repurpose and promote books. “Video is causing the greatest disruption for… books than any other digital change,” said James Woollam of F+W Media. “This isn’t something that is unattainable… Producing TV can be pretty low cost, and you can turn it into sales quite quickly.”

Other opportunities for slicing and dicing content for online platforms were discussed at the event. In fact, it was agreed that this type of forethought should be built into any publishing strategy from the outset, though Bloomsbury’s Eela Devani had a word of warning: “It’s not about using technology for the sake of it – it’s got to be about the content.”

A boost for bookshops

James Daunt and David Prescott, CEOs of Waterstones and Blackwells, respectively, both discussed the gathering momentum of high-street bookshops: Waterstone’s has bounced back from several challenging years and Blackwells aims to grow sales of its trade and academic titles. Also, more power is being devolved to individual stores, which can only be a good thing for indie publishers.

Daunt also discussed the success of current children’s publishing, which has driven the growth of Waterstones recently. Children’s titles now represent nearly 30 percent of all books bought, with picture books doing particularly well.

Words of wisdom

We’d like to end this blog with the words of Peter Usborne, founder of the renowned children’s publisher that shares his name, who closed proceedings with some pearls of wisdom on the indie-book industry as a whole.

“Aren’t we lucky?”, he said. “There are millions of people doing things not a tenth as interesting as publishing… it’s given me years and years of unalloyed fun and pleasure”. We couldn’t agree more!

Did you go to the IPG conference this year? Let us know below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to Owni /-) for the image.


5 takeaways from Digital Book World 2015

Alex Whittleton


Did you get to the Digital Book World (DBW) conference in New York last month? If you couldn’t go – or just couldn’t attend all the talks and panel discussions you wanted to while you were there – then keep on reading. Below, we give a rundown of some of the most interesting and inspiring news from this annual celebration of digital content.

New York’s key winter-publishing event, DBW attracts representatives from all the major publishing houses, as well as many smaller businesses and tech startups. Around 1,500 people were thought to have attended the three-day conference this year, which is known for its busy calendar of events, including lectures, seminars, workshops, round tables and an awards ceremony that honours innovation throughout the industry.

The event covers several categories (or “tracks”, in DBW speak) – global, marketing, data, transformation, education/kids, technology and new-business models – and features talks from illustrious industry figures. This year, the bar was raised higher than ever as key-note speakers from both Amazon and Apple – the two most disruptive forces in publishing – took to the stage: a first for any international publishing conference.

Given the huge scope of this exciting event, it would be impossible to capture its every newsworthy twist and turn. Instead, we’ve chosen our top five takeaways from DBW 2015:

1. Amazon in focus

Russ Grandinetti, Kindle VP at Amazon, described the company’s resolve to address concerns that authors – particularly “indie” authors – are losing out with its new subscription service, Kindle Unlimited. He insisted that the subscription eBook model is here to stay, and also talked about Amazon’s dual role as bookseller and publisher. Later on at the event, the future role of the industry giant was the subject of fierce debate among attendees.

2. Subscription eBooks soar

Many other DBW delegates endorsed subscription eBooks as a winning formula both for businesses and consumers. One of these was Big Five publisher Macmillan, who recently added 1,000 of its backlist titles to the two most successful subscription-eBook services, Oyster and Scribd. The move speaks volumes about the industry’s growing confidence in the model, which was also a dominant theme at last year’s DBW.

3. #LaunchKids

Digital-publishing guru Mike Shatzkin hosted a day-long programme that focused exclusively on children’s publishing. Encompassing everything from digital storytelling to Google’s classroom tech, #LaunchKids explored the intersection of children’s publishing and edtech. On the day, Nielsen announced that children are starting to read books at younger ages, due to the ubiquity and accessibility of devices.

4. iBooks boom

In his talk, Apple’s Keith Moerer, Director of the iBooks Store, announced that since last autumn’s iOS8 launch – which made the iBooks app more widely available to users – the tech giant was gaining a million new iBooks customers every week. That’s big news, especially for those of us in education publishing, since the app’s interactive functionality is the ideal framework for illustrated-reference content.

5. “Gamification” in education

Closely aligned with wider discussions about coursebooks and online learning platforms was the concept of “gamification” – giving content a game-like dimension as a way to engage reluctant learners. Education publisher Scholastic was a dominant voice in the debate, having already adopted this approach with huge success. It’ll be fascinating to see where this mix of education, technology and gaming will take education publishing next.

Did you attend DBW 2015? Tell us about your experience below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks to F+W 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.


Digital Book World 2014 and the merits of metadata

Alex Whittleton


Last month in New York City, publishers were looking to the future. At Digital Book World (DBW) 2014 – the largest conference of its kind in the world – everything from social-media marketing and metadata to eBook subscriptions and the self-publishing boom were on the agenda. This exciting event has certainly come a long way since its first, tentative steps getting to know the iPad back in 2010…

The running theme of the two-day annual get-together in the Big Apple was the galloping pace of change in publishing – and how to handle it. With dwindling numbers of high-street bookshops, the relentless rise of the industry colossus, Amazon, and the growing popularity of eReaders and tablets, huge change is not only fully underway, but looks set to stay.

Techie themes

Discussions on a range of techie themes were led by a panel of CEOs from publishing houses including HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan, who were joined by countless smaller houses and 1,500 attendees from across the industry – some of the brightest minds in digital publishing.

In a special two-blog mini-series, we’ll be focusing on the two DBW themes that are most relevant to our business here at Out of House – in this blog, we’ll be looking at the merits of metadata (which follows on nicely from our last blog on big data); next time, the spotlight will be on the subscription eBook model, and how it’s shaping the publishing landscape.

Big data’s little sister

Metadata is the information (about information) that contributes to big data. It’s big data’s little sister, and retailers and libraries need it to classify content, marketeers use it to push out the relevant information at the right time, and users – often without even knowing it – rely on the stuff to discover and select their next purchase.

As we explored last time, data is important for those who need to ensure their content stands out in the ocean of big data, in order to aid science and technology research. But as DBW confirmed – if any confirmation were needed – it’s also crucial for anybody in the business of content creation, who wants that content to be discovered, bought and enjoyed.

Metadata and you

As we all know, book browsing today is less about wandering down dusty bookshop aisles waiting to be inspired, and more about keywords, clicking, searching and viewing. It’s the stuff that works hard behind the scenes to organise browsing lists and match our searches. We use it to filter our options by subject, genre, author, format, ISBN and price point; you name it, metadata organises it.

It’s not a new phenomenon, by any means, but the digital boom has placed metadata at the forefront of book-selling. Whether we’re talking about print titles in traditional bookshops that need effective marketing, print titles sold online or digital-only content – where the entire experience, from discovery to delivery, is in the digital realm – metadata is more important than ever.

The metadata machine

Attendees at DBW 2014 couldn’t have left the conference hall in New York City any surer of the incredible power of good-quality, well-assigned metadata. It’s no longer an option for publishers, or merely the domain of digital-savvy businesses; no, storing metadata in easy-to-read, accessible formats like XML – as we do here at Out of House – has become one of the keys to longevity for anyone creating content.

What’s clear is that in an industry that’s no longer dabbling in digital, but completely awash with technology, the manipulation of this highly sophisticated data-filing system – the metadata machine – is not only desirable, but tantamount to success.

Is your business putting metadata first? Let us know your thoughts below, or on Facebook or Twitter.


Elsevier, UCL and the “big data” revolution

Alex Whittleton

Blog 3 image

Here at Out of House, in typical New Year fashion, we’ve been trying to predict the industry innovations, trends and partnerships that might define the months ahead. And after the recent opening of the UCL Big Data Institute (BDI) – a collaboration between the global science publisher Elsevier and University College London (UCL) – we have a feeling that developments in data crunching will take centre stage. Here’s the lowdown on academia’s big move towards big data.

Big data explained

The term ‘big data’ refers to the torrent of data brought about by advances in digital technology. It’s the same as old-fashioned data, only there’s a lot more of it, and from multiple, ever-changing sources. We’re talking about vast, unstructured data sets that are so complex they need to be processed by specially designed tools.

The pioneering collaboration between Elsevier and UCL announced last month will focus on cutting-edge research into the analysis, use and storage of all this information. The plan is to develop innovative technologies and analytics tools that will help scientists mine scholarly content and data more efficiently, allowing them to find the most relevant information at speed. Routine tasks, such as forecasting trends, will become easier than ever.

Everyone’s a winner

A mutually beneficial partnership, the BDI will involve a two-way exchange of insights and resources. On the one hand, UCL will receive funding for research projects from Elsevier and have access to the publishing giant’s large-scale technology. Elsevier, on the other hand, will get to work with some of the brightest minds in science, and can use the initiative to build on several of its established projects in web analytics and research.

And if all goes to plan, it isn’t just UK science that looks set to benefit from the initiative; the economy will, too. As David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said: ‘It’s estimated that the big data market will create up to 58,000 new UK jobs by 2017. Collaborations such as the one between University College London and Elsevier are vital if we are to take full advantage of the big data revolution and stay ahead in the global race.’

Thinking big

But big data isn’t just relevant to scientists and economists – far from it. This unprecedented explosion of information and the impulse to analyse it is having an impact on everyone involved in producing scholarly content; content that, in some form or other, contributes to the vast ocean of data.

If content is to stand the test of time and be useful to researchers, it must be enriched in the right ways; and it is the application of languages such as XML in the production stages that make content simpler to curate, search and analyse. Here at Out of House, our XML workflow lends itself perfectly to publishers who see the long-term potential of their content in the way that Elsevier and UCL do – as versatile, reusable, accessible and sharable.

The recent union between two of our greatest science institutions highlights the transformative potential of information. Whatever your views on the partnership, one thing’s for sure – the BDI is sure to be a game-changer in 2014. Watch this space.

How is big data shaping your business? Let us know your thoughts below, or on Facebook or Twitter.


Converting new content – is there a better way?

Jo Bottrill

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?



ebook indexing

Jo Bottrill

Google indexes our virtual world. The Google bot makes sure our search results are relevant and accurate. It’s a fascinating system, one you can read more about over at the Google Guide.

In the publishing industry we pay people to index our content. It’s a practice that probably dates back to the Greek and Roman times (Gary Forsyth writes more on this for the American Society for Indexing here). Now that we’re reading more digital content than ever, publishers are starting to question the value of the index. An ereader can search the book right? Readers can use the search box to find any term they want. Well yes, but does that really offer the same value as an index crafted by hand or algorithm? Are the results relevant and accurate, in other words do they take the reader where they want to go? A simple word search of a book on the orchestra might bring up tens of occurences of the word “violin”, hundreds even. But how many point to the really pertinent stuff – the places in the content where the author describes the violoin, defines its role in the orchestra and its history? Maybe half a dozen at most.

My own view is that producing ebooks with smart indexes – taking the reader right to the point in the text where their query is discussed – enriches our content and sets the publishing world apart from other content providers.

As the Google Guide says “PageRank is Google’s system for ranking web pages. A page with a higher PageRank is deemed more important and is more likely to be listed above a page with a lower PageRank”. To make book content, particularly non-fiction, truly accessible to readers we need a similar system in every book. We have it in fact – it’s called the index. Until we have really smart algorithms and tools for intellgient search installed on our devices my bet is on the trusty indexer continuing to guide us through to the content we actually need, when we need it.

At Out of House we understand XML workflows and use them to produce a smart hpyerlinked index in the back of many of the books we produce. Contact us to find out more.



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!


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.


Smart indexing for ebook production

Jo Bottrill

We use XML to produce books and digital content for our clients. We’re not XML geeks, we don’t edit in XML nor do we spend hours pouring over pages of code. But, our workflow is centred around XML – it drives the production process, including editing and indexing.

The emdedded indexng workflow we use enables our clients to produce a smart index in their ebooks.

We ask our indexers – and authors indexing their own books – to index in Microsoft Word, using either the inbuilt indexing tool or a third party system. For professional indexers we recomend James Lamb’s Word Embed, which ties in well with existing indexing software such as Cindex or Macrex.

The digitally indexed files are combined with the copy-edited content, everything merging into one XML repository complete with active links between an item in the index and the relevant locations in the content. For the print product the page numbers are dynamic so they can be updated if the text is reflowed. For electronic products the page numbers can be substituted for hyperlinks back to the relevant locations in the text.

Not only does this linking provide rich XML which publishers can use to help their readers mine content – it also helps the production process. Gone are (some) of the barriers to repagination part way through a project. Repurposing content for a new edition or mashing content from various sources? Take the index tags with you and retain a valid index.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about how embedded indexing can be a part of your digital publishing strategy.



XML via Word styles

Jo Bottrill

Tomorrow I shall be hosting a seminar for some colleagues to look at structuring content for copy-editing using Microsoft Word styles. I ran a similar session last year and it was well received. I aim to break down some of the mystery about copy-editing in Word, show some examples onscreen and give my colleagues some confidence to get on and have a play in Word.

We use templates and styles in Word whenever we can. This improves the consistency and structural integrity of the content we process, and it makes our copy-editing and typesetting processes more efficient (copy-editors aren’t labouring away keying in codes and typesetters aren’t spending hours manually mapping those to their stylesheets). We can format particular types of content to make them easier to process (setting briefing notes in a different colour for example). This all helps shift focus to the structural integrity of the content entrusted to us rather than on the minutiae of formatting (the distinction between a the Word style applied to some text and the details of its format bold, italic, font etc. is important to understand). 

Getting the hierarchy right is particularly important when you start to think about XML (as most publishers are now doing). Mapping a template and suite of styles to the DTD (document type definition the XML rules against which the structure of your content is tested) for your content gives a straightforward way of validating against the DTD without having to train editors in the intricacies of XML mark-up.

What tips do you have for marking up onscreen content for typesetting?