Digital Publishing Innovation and David McKnight
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Member Engagement through Content Strategy.
End silos, coordinate efforts across all groups – marketing, membership, publications, events.
Building on Online Publishing Platform to engage and monetize information.
Don’t build what you want…deliver what members want.
Provide eBook solutions without all the conversion costs and distribution revenue sharing required by Amazon and other major Online Proprietary Solutions.
O’Reilly – Tools of Change for Publishing: “A level of unmediated control that empowers publishers (Associations) to be responsive to market feedback, and encourages them to take ownership of user relationships. These are exactly the habits that publishers need to develop in order to build successful digital businesses, and exactly the habits Tizra does a great job of supporting.”
Tizra’s web-based publishing platform
by Joe Wikert
Full Post here
XML is at the foundation of what is driving digital content today. Most eBooks have an XML foundation. Many websites are driven by XML content. So it is important if you are considering expanding your digital publishing efforts that you have an understanding about XML, how it can be useful to your Association and what you need to know when making this investment.
There are other solutions than XML to managing content and less expensive ones. As you search for ways to bring more value to your content you should consider these five core elements of content organization.
#1 – Meta-data
XML allows publishers to surround information with information – meta-data. Common examples of meta-data are title, author, topics, length, key words. This information is helpful to allow digital solutions to create summaries or listings of publications. It helps to sort and categorize information. It brings structure and adds important information to help the reader.
#2 – Provides Structure
Besides adding information to content XML also helps provide structure to the content itself. For example breaking content into sections – chapters or sections. This provides a reader with more ways to navigate especially large documents. It can also help publishers by giving them new ways to organize content based on topics. We live in an age when it may not be possible to consume all of the content in a publication but by having some structure to it we can more easily find relevant information.
#3 – Don’t Scrimp on Conversion
To start using XML you may want to convert our existing publications into an XML format. To sell an eBook on Amazon, the first step is converting to XML. Things like fonts, symbols and equations can add complexity. The process of converting is becoming easier with far more tools.
In many cases it is a labor-intensive process and why offshore providers are able to provide lower costs. I’ve seen conversion prices from 50 cents to $5 per page or more. But be careful. It may be worth spending a few extra dollars to work with a vendor that can produce high quality conversion. I’ve seen great work by offshore providers and often it is still more about their process than just how many people they throw at a project.
Many providers expect you, the publisher to catch the mistakes. I often ask Association leaders how much they think they can afford to publish a document with a few errors in it. In some cases – it can’t be tolerated at all…others it might be OK for the occasional typo. My advice for most is not to scrimp and use a vendor that has the experience and reputation for quality.
#4 – XML Workflow
To make the decision to move to XML for anything but an occasional title, you should also consider your workflow and the process of getting content into XML at the author level. Conversion works on a short-term basis but for larger publishers you will need to invest in your workflow. The good news is, there are now some excellent solutions that will provide you with a workflow and greatly increase your ability to rapidly publish digital content. Maybe the bad news is, it is expensive unless you have a large amount of content to publish on an ongoing basis.
#5 – Standardize and Convert to Many Outputs
One of the biggest advantages of XML is that once your content is in an XML format it can be converted to many other formats – .mobi (Amazon format), 3Pub (the most common eBook format), and even into PDF for printing or online use. However, there often is a small cost to convert each, yet for the publisher that needs to reach a wide audience on many different devices, XML is appealing.
While XML can bring a lot of value to digital content it does come at a price. What is important is that as you explore digital publishing you consider each of these points: 1) Meta-data 2) Structure 3) Conversion 4) Workflow 5) Outputs. As you look for solutions and vendors then explore the COSTS (both in terms of dollars and impact on your staff), TIME (to get published and into the hands of your readers) and QUALITY (both in terms of accuracy and in formats readers can continue to learn and be informed by).
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).
Association executives understand the importance of their web presence. It’s driving more and more traffic and members expect more value from how they connect with you online. So the question is… “How can you create more value with your online presence?” It’s value creation where you need to focus…. Not on SEO or Marketing or Design or Content Management… none of these “create value”. And chances are 75% of the bill from your provider is for these very things.
To bring this point home visit this Blog post on paidContent “Forget about ‘content management’–and focus on ‘audience development’
This post is part 1 of 5 Posts, stay tuned and please share links to these posts. We’ll wrap up these posts with a Webinar. Please register for Building an Association ePublishing Platform on Sep 12, 2012 12:00 PM CDT.
#1 Three Must Have Web Presence Value Creators
#2 Eight Questions to Address Before You Start Another RFP Process for Your Website
#3 Four ePublishing Solution Provider Categories
#4 Five things for us non-technical people to know about XML
#5 Three Strategies for Creating an ePublishing Platform
POST # 1 of 5: Building an ePublishing Platform
Three Must Haves Web Presence Value Creators
If you can’t be found on the Internet… you don’t exist. Harsh, but true, in todays connected world. Just because your organization has a lot of content, much of it online, unless it can be discovered, only the few that know where to find it will. That may seam to be ok, protect that content, but is it impacting your relevance? Also, should you be looking beyond your membership to find ways to connect to the rest of the world?
Access is key here. Don’t give away the valuable content…just make sure people know it’s there… and either charge for it or ask them to join.
SEO isn’t enough anymore. The cool trick of some smart people to manipulate your way to the top of a google search results are fading. In the future, value will return to good old-fashioned quality content, that can be found, and word of mouth (social media).
A bit related to the above, however, I’m specifically addressing the ability to help members and others perform complex, multiple search word, nested searches. In the world of thousands of pages it will require users to search at the page level to find what they need… quickly.
Meta-data – information that describes content is also critical to help with the searches and to organize content or even reorganize content into new “bundles” of content offerings.
With todays epublishing transformations it’s easier with the right tools now for publishers, associations are publishers, to sell direct. Selling not only to members but also the rest of the world. By building a “destination” website Branded with your association, they are in your house and you get to control the experience and offer new things that they may not have otherwise learned about just by buying a book on Amazon.
Not that you should not be working with Amazon and other distributors… but the goal is to direct traffic to your web presence to give your association the biggest opportunity to influence readers and spread your mission.
The key question every association needs to ask, before investing in a new website, is how will this site create new value? That value can usually be measured by:
- Increase Member Value
- Increase Relevance
- Increase Revenue
…if it can’t impact or all three of these, you might want to invest somewhere else.
I’m not going to rehash the old “Print is Dead” mantra. It just IS for many types of publications – proceedings, directories, most manuals, standards, journals, marketing material, and more.
With change brings new value. Your ability to reach a much wider audience brings huge value. Strive to bring value to your members but connecting with a wider audience to build your community and key to maintaining relevancy. Knowledge is your weapon. Use it wisely.
Where should you and your team put your digital publishing focus?
Online and eBooks.
Here are the technologies or digital solution your team needs to research, learn and either build expertise in-house or go find.
- ePub3 – for eBooks, this technology will be profound – books will not just be read but “engaged” with and learning brought to new levels
- HTML5 and XML – for online, eBooks and mobile (mobile is CRITICAL)
- “Pull” vs “Push” – website and mobile delivery that identify a members information needs and allows them to get the content they value most – not hunt for it or get spammed with email to know it’s available
- Component Content Management Systems – sharing of content in small chunks, like the news has done for years, yet the chunks can be combined, mixed and matched to form new content pieces.
- Community Technology – beyond your members. Associations have led the way on building communities and today’s technology makes it easier for new communities to form. So Associations need to embrace this technology too, and yes social media. But communities that offer members the opportunities to meet face to face (events/conferences) – will have the edge.
For eBooks conversion from existing content with complex formatting, equations, charts, tables and all the stuff that is key to communicating knowledge – don’t waste your time “doing-it-yourself”. Quality and accuracy are priceless and protects your reputation. Find an expert and one that can help put you on a path to adopting new ways to collect and distribute content.
An Innovation Challenge: Share this list with your entire team – assign a team member with one of these topics and have them research how that technology can impact your organization. Have them find an expert and talk to them. Awareness sparks innovation.
On January 10, 2011 Skip Prichard, President & CEO Ingram Content Group posted on his personal blog “Wagging the Tail” where he commented on Seth Godin blog post “How The Long Tail Cripples Bonus Content/Multimedia” about Skips Huffington Post interview “How Will We Read? The Book Makers” on the Future of the Book. Seth claimed that the long tail has hit the book business hard, and e-books will exceed a million new titles in 2012. Because of this, all of the ideas Skip discussed (which Seth calls “breathtaking visions of the future” like embedded video and audio, plot twists, or alternative endings) he characterizes as “economically ridiculous.”
My two cents…
I do believe Seth is right, we will see an explosion in new authors and books of all levels of quality making it difficult to identify the best. But as Social Media and Communities mature we’ll have a more effective ways to identify the truly talented… and many more than we have/can today.
At the same time while publishers are giving up their control of who get’s published they will be embracing technology, education and innovation. As with any industry the early stages will have ups and downs. Pricing and sustainable business models and methods will be an initial challenge. But I think Skips visions will come true, sooner than some think (sorry Seth, although I’m not sure you’d disagree) and beyond most of our ability to predict today. By having better ways to identify the talented authors and technologies among us they will turn reading into rich experiences and help to increase education exponentially.
And, back to Seth’s visioning, this will empower the artists among us and give them new platforms to enrich our lives. Move over sports figures… authors and artists are after the hearts and wallets of all of us.
Finding solutions to help you complete in the new digital publishing world doesn’t have to require a huge amount of custom development or new process that take years to launch. Matter of fact, you can’t afford NOT to be serious about digital publishing solutions or your organization will become less relevant…. no matter how good the knowledge you have to share.
OnLine Knowledge Management Publishing Platform
Tizra – www.tizra.com
A CMS (Content Management System) built for publishing not 100’s of pages of content like your website but 100’s of thousands of pages of EXISTING documents and files – in word, PDF, audio, video, any digital content. Build a fully searchable and indexed solution with the access control associations and self-publishers need – free, member only, attendee only, paid – in under a month!
These solutions I discovered while attending the Gilbane Conference in Boston.
DCL – www.DCL.com
A solution for converting existing documents into high quality professionally converted eBook formats. Yes, you can find some do this cheap, maybe free…. but there is no faster way to lose your reader than to have an eBook formatted poorly. Highly technical documents require professionals. And it’s still very affordable. They offer on-demand solutions if you only have a few titles a year to affordable solutions for larger eBook publishers. Leave it to the pros, focus on what you do best, your content.
XML is not just the future, it’s now. It still can be costly to fully implement. You can affordably start now with your newly created content so that you can begin to easily push that content to print, online and eBook formats.
Simply XML – www.simplyxml.com
They offer a tool for authors that work in Microsoft Word. Style sheets and templates can be created that allow any average Microsoft Word user to output clean XML files. These files can be output to PDF for print production, saved as XML for on-line content or knowledge management systems and can be converted to eBooks.
My recommendations are that self-publishers, including Associations, should be doing the following three things today:
1) Get as much of your associations knowledge online in a easy to use and findable manner as possible
2) Start distributing your knowledge in ways your members, audience, readers what to consume it – such as eBooks.
3) Act now with as much knowledge as possible but start putting into place processes and workflows that allow your organization greater flexibility and the abilility to cost effectively distribute information in many different ways…leave no one behind that wants and needs your information.