POST # 3 of 5: Building an ePublishing Platform
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As I work with associations on helping them find solutions for increasing their capacity to publish more content digitally it’s clear to me that the digital publishing industry is far from being clear to people. I try to break down the “solutions’ into these buckets:
Content Conversion – the process of taking application files – mainly Word, InDesign or PDF and converting them into XML or online publishing and/or eBook files such as .Mobi (Amazon) or ePub3 (most others). XML offer publisher the ability to write once and publish many (print, digital, online).
Comment: XML offer a lot to digital publishing but it does require investing not just in conversion but for long term sustainability in changing your workflow too.
eBook Distribution – these are downloadable files either read on a computer, table or eBook reader. There are many options today on how to provide eBooks to members. Amazon, Apple, Google and Barns & Noble are the big players in the commercial distribution.
Comment: I’m not a big believer that these types of eBook work well for association except for very popular titles. The conversation, high royalty fees and management make this less profitable and the exposure to mainstream marketing not as helpful.
Online Database for Research – there are also dozens of free or paid database solution such as PubMed that content can be uploaded and made available. Most require content converted to XML and have strict guidelines.
Comment: For some groups like medical association you should have a strategy to get content to PubMed and others. The key is to work with a solid conversion company to help you ensure the quality of your content is maintained. There are only a few companies that do this well.
Content Management Systems (CMS) – maybe the area with the widest array of solutions and the most confusion. There are many CMS solutions – open sources and proprietary. All at the core help manage the content on a website. Few CMS solutions provide “true” publishing features such as subscription management, access control, eCommerce, uploading and managing large collections content (tens of hundreds of thousand pages), advance search and meta-data.
Comment: Know what your needs are… what your members and the rest of the world needs. There is a unique new opportunity with the right tools for Associations to build world class ePublishing Portals – driving relevance, revenue and more member value.
The first three above the focus is usually on service and quality with price being fairly consistent. The more “technical” the content the more quality is needed in the conversion process. The CMS solution is about matching the needs with the solution with the budget. The goal – eliminate content silos, have a mix of free, member access only and paid for content. Make sure the content is shareable and fully indexed by google and other search engines (but the site manages access).