November May 21, Lorimer, Rowland, and Lindsay Lynch. Stromberg, Eric, and Romeen Sheth. Case study , kenan. Turner-Riggs firm. The Book Retail Sector in Canada. Ottawa: Canadian Heritage, Accessed October 1, Accessed September 25, Accessed September 12, Accessed September 30, Accessed November 27, Accessed September 23, Accessed September 24, Accessed October 5, However, by , it had become evident that outsourcing to large conversion houses had its drawbacks. In the face of these problems, individual publishers like UBC Press must put various short-term solutions in place and consider making changes to their own production workflows if they are to achieve greater quality assurance and control over their own epublishing programs.
I would like to thank Rowland Lorimer, who inspired me to study scholarly publishing; Roberto Dosil and Laraine Coates, for their encouragement and careful reading; the hard-working ladies in the Production and Editorial Department at UBC Press, who teach by example; and Jane Hope, whose wit and friendship helped me through my internship and beyond. Acknowledgements List of Figures List of Acronyms. Appendix A: Ebook Proofing Instructions. Stretched Ebook Cover Image. Established in , UBC Press has developed into a scholarly book publisher recognized for its social sciences monographs and edited collections.
At present, the press also publishes books in 21 different series, several of which are co-published with cultural and professional organizations such as the Osgoode Society for Canadian Legal History, the Canadian War Museum, and the Canadian Council on International Law.
Like many other university presses, UBC Press is somewhat of a hybrid entity within its host institution. Because the press helps carry out the research mandate of the university, and because its publications board is made up of faculty members, the press is in some ways considered to be an academic unit. Like faculties and departments, it is therefore housed on campus and receives a modest level of operational funding from the university. The Press also earns income from an endowment whose funds are administered by the university though this endowment income has decreased significantly over the past ten years.
In other respects, though, UBC Press is treated as an ancillary unit. Ancillary units like Food Services or Land and Building Services exist within the university environment; however, they are expected to be self-sufficient and generate revenue by charging for their services or products. Like many other university presses, UBC Press is thus in the awkward position of having to operate as a for-profit business with a not-for-profit academic agenda.
For instance, demand for the agency services that UBC Press provides to US and UK publishers is expected to lessen due to an increase in online, direct-to-consumer marketing and delivery. Furthermore, if UBC Press were to experience a considerable loss in revenue, this loss would be compounded by a decrease in block grant funding from the Department of Canadian Heritage, since block grants are contingent upon positive net income.
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Whereas a trade publisher might try to compensate for a loss in revenue by marketing its titles more aggressively in the hopes of selling more copies and thereby achieving greater economies of scale , there is little potential for growth in monograph sales for social sciences and humanities SSH publishers. SSH publishers like UBC Press serve a niche market, with the majority of sales being made to a finite number of academic libraries. In short, printing and selling more books is not an option for UBC Press. In fact, in an attempt to reduce inventory costs, UBC Press has begun to limit its initial print runs.
UBC Press further anticipates that it may phase out hardcover editions altogether within the next five years in favour of the less expensive paperback format. It is also working to introduce print-on-demand options in England and Australia in order to reduce the number of printed books it has to stock and ship overseas.
At the same time that UBC Press is scaling back its print runs, it has been exploring and expanding its digital publishing activities. However, it is unclear at this point whether ebook sales will endanger, augment, or replace print sales. A decrease in print sales and increase in electronic sales is particularly worrisome to publishers because ebooks tend to be priced much lower than print books.
In the world of trade publishing, online retailers like Amazon and Apple have exerted a downward pressure on the price of ebooks,  so that even if a publisher is able to sell a considerable number of electronic copies, the profitability of ebook publishing is limited.
Scholarly publishers stand to lose even more than trade publishers in this shift to the digital format, given that scholarly monographs are often priced three to 10 times higher than trade books. If scholarly publishers are forced to sell their titles in digital form to the same small consumer base, but at a much deeper discount, their profit margins would no longer be razor thin: they would be non-existent. In addition to pricing library ebooks slightly higher than print print books, UBC Press has taken measures to ensure that its more expensive ebooks destined for the library market are more visible than its cheaper ebook formats.
To be sure, ebooks are not at present a significant source of revenue for scholarly publishers. Small as these figures may seem, they do represent a two-fold increase in percentage of total sales from previous years—an indication that the appetite for ebooks in the academic market may be growing.
However much revenue ebooks may bring to the Press, it is clear that ebooks carry with them certain costs. Some of these costs e. For example, in order to store, distribute, and market its digital titles effectively, UBC Press will need to update its technological infrastructure in the near future.
This upgrade will entail significant one-time investments, including the purchase of a new digital asset management system which stores and distributes files to vendors ; a redesigned website with increased functionality, including the ability to sell ebooks directly to consumers; consultation with a web marketing specialist, who can help the press increase its brand discoverability through search engine optimization; and improvements to the current system for managing bibliographic data.
In addition to these secondary expenses, the Press must bear the principal cost of producing ebooks. Though these production costs have been subsidized over the years by various parties see Chapter 1 , they have come to present a considerable expense and financial risk for the Press. It is upon these realities—certain costs and uncertain gains—that UBC Press has based its decisions regarding ebook publishing over the last decade. The history of ebook production at UBC Press is a history of outsourcing.
This history can roughly be broken down into three phases. Each phase of ebook production was overseen by a different third party, and each marks the adoption of new ebook formats. See Figure 1. Taken together, these phases reflect over a decade of change in the way ebooks have been produced and distributed in Canada; they also reveal a surprising mix of private and public initiatives that have underwritten the creation of scholarly ebooks in this country. Figure 1.
UBC Press has been publishing ebooks in one format or another since the late s, but like many other university presses, it has done so with the assistance—and at the insistence—of various external parties, beginning with content aggregators.
Content aggregators are the electronic equivalent of library wholesalers. They acquire and package digital content from publishers, which they then license to institutions for a fee. In the early years of ebook publishing, aggregators not only marketed and distributed ebooks, but they also produced them. These companies would arrange for the creation of ebook files on behalf of the publisher, essentially manufacturing a product for themselves to sell.
It was they—not publishers—who digitized scholarly books and built a business around this product. The publishers simply licensed the content to them. The first content aggregator to convince Canadian publishers to take part in this new venture was an American company named NetLibrary. NetLibrary was formed in Boulder, Colorado, in Soon thereafter, it began to sublicense rights for select backlist titles from academic publishers and to create ebook editions of those titles.
The company produced these ebooks by scanning hardcopy books supplied by the publishers. Using an optical character recognition OCR scanner, NetLibrary was able to convert the image of printed type into text. Instead of being contained within a particular file format, these early ebooks were simply rendered in HTML.
The text was viewed online by library patrons through a browser using a tethered-access model Knight This production and delivery method, made possible by the increasing popularity of the internet which allowed people to access content remotely , proved to be quite successful. As the agreement with NetLibrary was non-exclusive, UBC Press began to develop partnerships with these other content aggregators as well. At the time of its launch in January , Questia had developed a considerable collection of over 50, titles.
In this way, UBC Press parceled off licensing rights to various content aggregators during its first five years of ebook publishing. UBC Press continued to enter into concurrent agreements with different content aggregators and to digitize its legacy titles piecemeal until , when the Press signed an exclusive one-year deal with the nascent Canadian Electronic Library CEL. The CEL had been formed a year prior by Gibson Library Connections, a Canadian content aggregator interested in creating a collection of electronic texts from Canadian publishers.
Gibson would then sell access to this content through the ebrary reading platform to various academic libraries in Canada Ng-See-Quan. By this time, the PDF had become a universally accepted format for electronic documents, so a shift toward this standard and away from simple HTML encoding was welcomed by publishers. After signing on with the CEL, the Press began to digitize nearly all of its titles that had not yet been hand-picked by content aggregators.
A year or so after its inception, the CEL was comprised of approximately 6, scholarly titles in English and French. This sale was promising, and presaged an even more lucrative deal that took place two years later in September , when the collection had grown to over 8, titles from 47 different Canadian publishers. Though the CNSLP was initially concerned with acquiring access to online journals from scientific, technical and medical STM publishers, it eventually expanded its mandate to include monographs in the social sciences and humanities.
This occurred in , when it became officially incorporated as a non-profit organization and was renamed the Canadian Research Knowledge Network. This change in mandate was significant, as it meant that the CRKN would start to acquire electronic content in areas in which Canadian university presses were actually publishing. The budget for the SSH acquisition project was also on a scale heretofore unseen. By , this well-funded Canadian purchasing consortium was on the hunt for a large collection of SSH content, and it found its match in the Canadian Electronic Library.
This landmark sale was profitable not just for Gibson, but for participating publishers as well. UBC Press alone earned roughly 1. It was the largest single sale ever realized by the Press, regardless of format. At the close of its contract with Canadian Electronic Library, UBC Press did not have any plans in place to produce and distribute ebooks of its forthcoming titles. For the first time since its foray into the world or digital publishing, the Press was left to oversee its own ebook program which had, until that point, been governed by outsider interests.
Though the Press was no longer under the auspices of a content aggregator, it continued to rely on the technology partner whom Gibson had introduced and whose services had proven to be indispensable. According to CodeMantra, these features met the minimum file requirements of most libraries and ebook vendors. The uPDF format therefore allowed publishers to distribute their files to multiple sales channels without encountering any technical barriers. To help deliver this product, CodeMantra also offered publishers subscriptions to Collection Point, a digital asset management system.
Collection Point enabled publishers like UBC Press to store their ebooks, apply metadata to these files, and deliver the finished products electronically to various sales channels, including to content aggregators, whose role had really been reduced to that of distributor by this time. Having secured these technical services from CodeMantra, UBC Press began to manage its own ebook publishing program, unassisted, until the next external initiative arose—this time, under the direction of a national trade organization: the Association of Canadian Publishers.
Since it was formed in , the ACP had provided research, marketing, and professional development services to independent publishers in Canada. The CPDS was a suite of services that aimed to provide advice and support to small and mid-sized independent publishers wanting to create and manage ebooks MacDonald. An important part of the CPDS program was connecting Canadian publishers with technology partners who could offer conversion services. The first round of ebook conversions organized by the ACP took place in October For this job, the ACP hired CodeMantra, the same overseas company that had made a name for itself among publishers by converting their files for the Canadian Electronic Library.
Unlike the uPDFs—low resoultion files designed for on-screen reading, which contain interactive features like bidirectional links —these POD files had to be static PDFs that could generate a print-quality product. These files also had to comply with other formatting requirements stipulated by Lightening Source: for example, the interior text had to have one-quarter inch margins, the cover had to have a one-quarter inch bleed on all sides, and the images had to be rendered in CMYK colour.
This marked the first opportunity for many Canadian publishers to store their content in what was considered to be a more durable and flexible form—a form that might allow them to repurpose their tagged content later on. Unlike PDFs, which have a fixed layout, the text in EPUBs is reflowable, which makes them amenable to designated ereaders like the Kindle or Kobo, as well as other mobile devices. And indeed, UBC Press took full advantage of this opportunity. Other publishers were equally enthusiastic. In fact, the level of interest and participation from Canadian publishers in this program was so high that a second round of conversions was organized in Data conversion companies were invited to bid on a new contract with the ACP; this time, the job was awarded to a different technology partner, Innodata Isogen, whose facilities were also located overseas.
UBC Press submitted another 62 of its recently published titles to Innodata for conversion. The CPDS program was the most recent effort toward large-scale, coordinated ebook production in Canada. For his part, UBC Press Director Peter Milroy has expressed a willingness to continue outsourcing ebook production to technology partners through third-party organizations like eBound Canada. It seems, then, that the Press will continue to outsource ebook production—at least, for the immediate future. UBC Press has always depended on an external partner to produce, sell and distribute its ebooks.
This is perhaps not surprising, as the ebook business was first created and aggressively developed by external stakeholders e. Yet there are several other reasons why publishers have chosen to outsource ebook production for the last decade. These reasons are explored in detail in the next chapter. There are several reasons why UBC Press and other publishers first outsourced, and have continued to outsource, ebook production. More importantly, outsourcing has been a convenient and cost-effective way for UPs to enter into a potentially lucrative but uncertain market.
Outsourcing is a business practice that is not unique to the publishing industry. Indeed, outsourcing has become increasingly popular across the manufacturing and service industries over the past five decades. Among the many goods and services that are now traded internationally are services in the ICT sector 8. In fact, outsourcing has become so common in this sector that by Canadian companies were offshoring 7. Though their traditional focus on acquiring, editing and designing once placed publishers squarely outside the realm of these technology-related services, the rise of digital publishing and the concomitant need for large-scale data conversion has made publishers reliant upon the ICT sector.
Through their business dealings with content aggregators and conversion houses, Canadian publishers have thus become swept up in this larger movement toward offshoring. During cutbacks in the early s, UBC Press was forced to downsize its staff. As it was less expensive and more convenient to hire workers on short-term contracts, the Press came to rely on freelancers for much of the editorial and production work formerly carried out by employees in house Brand As most of the work involved with print books was being performed out-of-house, it seemed reasonable that this new facet of production—ebooks—be outsourced as well.
Ebooks brought with them the promise of profit. Outsourcing, however, provided a way for scholarly publishers like UBC Press to experiment with digital publishing while minimizing financial risk, since outsourcing partners offered a series of incentives that either lowered or eliminated production costs. NetLibrary initially set low-cost expectations by offering to cover the cost of digitization i.
This saved the publisher from having to invest in ebooks upfront. It was these favourable terms that first tempted publishers like UBC Press to start outsourcing to Netlibrary. CodeMantra was therefore able to convert ebooks at a reasonable price, which lowered production costs and increased profit margins for the CEL and its participating publishers. Using similar incentives, the Association of Canadian Publishers was also able to lower the cost of producing ebooks for Canadian Publishers, thereby encouraging them to continue outsourcing.
When it came time for the ACP to choose its technology partners for the CPDS program, it too hired companies like CodeMantra and Innodata, whose conversion facilities were located in South Asia, and who could therefore offer lower pricing. Accordingly, UBC Press was more selective in the titles it chose to convert and in the formats it requested. Of the 74 titles the Press submitted for initial estimates, it processed only 62, choosing those titles that were most affordable to produce.
To sum up, the companies and organizations that have facilitated outsourcing over the last ten years have offered a series of incentives, ranging from complete coverage of production costs to cost deferrals and direct subsidies. These incentives have made it more affordable—and therefore less risky—for university presses to start publishing ebooks. In addition to lowering financial risk and production costs, outsourcing seemed like a convenient way for publishers to enter into the ebook business. The production method used by the early content aggregators was particularly accommodating.
This meant that publishers could remain focused on creating their print product while ebook production took place downstream. Figure 2. Even with the advent of newer ebook formats, in-house operations continued much the same as they had before. All the Press was required to do was upload these simple PDFs, along with the accompanying front cover images in their native file formats e. Once the simple PDF files had been downloaded by CodeMantra employees, features like internal links and bookmarked tables of contents were added manually to enhance the product and make it more user-friendly.
Although applying these features is not an overly complex process, requiring only minimal training and common software applications like Adobe Acrobat Pro, the process can be quite labour intensive, particularly if a PDF contains a lot of index entries or notes which have to be turned into links. Outsourcing therefore saved UBC Press staff the time and effort required to perform these tedious tasks. Though the method of producing other ebook formats is much more involved, the Press did not have to put forth any extra effort when it started to publish EPUBs and XML files in This is because conversion houses like CodeMantra and Innodata were able to create these ebooks from the same basic files used to produce the ePDFs.
This data is then stored in an intermediate form of XML unique to that company e. After a rough preliminary conversion, these companies likely run more scripts to reformat portions of the file and to add styling to the ePub. In this way, conversion houses are able to create complex XML ebook formats from the simple PDFs provided by the publisher. From a production standpoint, outsourcing has therefore been exceptionally convenient: it has allowed UBC Press to adopt various ebook formats that have developed over time without having to drastically alter its own operations.
Moreover, in its early agreements with content aggregators, UBC Press was able to outsource not just the production of its ebooks but also their marketing and distribution. Publishers who converted their titles through the CPDS program also had the option of collectively licensing their content through the ACP to ebook vendors like Sony. Although UBC Press has had to take a more hands-on approach to ebook production in recent years see Chapter 3 , the initial convenience of being able to outsource all manner of work associated with ebooks clearly was a draw for publishers.
At the time UBC Press began publishing ebooks, the outsourcing of technical services had become a common practice within Canada. Outsourcing also seemed to fit with the freelance-based business model already in place at the Press. Over the years, the different parties that organized ebook production also tended to subsidize it: companies like NetLibrary and industry groups like the ACP have offered various financial incentives to make outsourcing even more attractive to publishers.
For publishers, then, outsourcing has minimized any economic risks involved in adopting the digital format. Furthermore, outsourcing has been an incredibly convenient way to enter into the ebook market. Because ebooks have, to date, been produced from the end-product of print publishing i. By being both convenient and affordable, this method of production has been beneficial enough to keep publishers outsourcing for over ten years.
However, it remains to be seen whether the benefits of outsourcing still outweigh other problems that may have arisen from this practice. As was established in the previous chapter, UBC Press has been outsourcing ebook production since it first began publishing ebooks in the late s. But whether or not it should continue to do so warrants some consideration. The processes and products that have resulted from over a decade of outsourcing should be examined in order to determine whether outsourcing remains as beneficial a business practice as it once was. In particular, it will catalogue the types of errors that have been found within these files.
This chapter will then speculate on the inconvenience, risks, and added costs that may result from poorly converted ebooks. In an effort to understand why—and with such frequency—these errors have occurred, the conversion process used by large overseas companies like CodeMantra and Innodata Isogen will also be examined. Even if outsourcing was an effective way of allowing Canadian publishers to enter the ebook market, outsourcing long-term may have the unfortunate result of reducing the autonomy of Canadian publishers and their participation in the digital economy.
Like other outsourcing initiatives that had come before it, the CPDS program was seen as a convenient way of producing ebooks. This outsourcing opportunity also seemed to carry little risk, given that it was overseen by the ACP: a trusted industry representative that was willing to partially fund the process. In short, the CPDS program seemed like an easy, safe, and affordable way for publishers to obtain ebook editions of their backlist titles. However, UBC press was quite disappointed with the files it received from its conversion partners during this program.
Errors were apparent even from the cover pages. The ebook covers were often of poor quality. Some cover images appeared in very low resolution; others were stretched because their proportions had not been maintained during resizing. Low Resolution Ebook Covers. Original Image vs. Stretched Cover Image. The ebook interiors were just as disappointing. Entire chapters were missing from the ebooks or from the bookmarked tables of contents that had been added to the files manually by the technology partner.
More frequently, the files themselves were incorrectly named, having been labeled with the wrong ISBN number e. Such errors were common across all file types, but others were unique to particular ebook formats. In the ePDFs which are paginated , whole pages were missing or were misnumbered. Preliminary pages in the front matter did not appear in Roman numerals, though the Press had stipulated that they should.
Chapter headings were also missing from the tops of some pages. In addition, the print-on-demand PDFs included only front covers, instead of the full wrap cover requested by the Press and required by Lightning Source. The EPUB errors that were most visible were those pertaining to images.
For instance, diacritics which should have been rendered in UTF-8 encoding as stipulated in the agreement were instead captured as images during the conversion process. Because they had been rendered as images, these accented characters did not appear to rest on the same line as the rest of the text. These errors were made all the more visible when the ebooks were viewed on a wide screen. Figure Still more problems occurred because of the shift from PDF to EPUB that took place during conversion—in other words, the shift from a fixed page layout to reflowable text.
Images that appeared on separate pages in the print editions now seemed to interrupt the text, sometimes appearing mid-sentence. Tables which contained three or more columns in the original files and which should have been rendered as images had been grabbed as text instead; as a result, the contents of these tables often broke across several pages in the EPUB, making them difficult to read. Odd line breaks also occurred within the running text because the print typesetter had either used automatic hyphenation or had inserted forced line breaks in the original InDesign files.
Pages that originally appeared in the front matter and that were supposed to have been relocated to the back of the EPUB so as not to interfere with readability a common practice in ebook design had not been moved. More seriously, the metadata for these EPUB files was neither robust nor accurate. Series information was not included in the. Not surprisingly, the error-riddled ebooks that were produced during the last two rounds of conversions created delays and extra work for UBC Press, making outsourcing far less convenient than it seemed at the outset.
During the first round of CPDS conversions in , ebook errors occurred with such frequency that many ACP members complained to the organization about the quality of their files. The sheer scale of the problem prompted the Association to bring in a consultant to negotiate a solution with the technology partner, CodeMantra.
In the end, all parties agreed that the company would make certain changes to the files produced during this round of conversions, free of charge. Many publishers decided to resubmit files, but because the changes were applied globally, it took a long time for the corrections to be implemented. As a result, some of the titles that were initially submitted to CodeMantra during the first round of conversions in were not yet ready by Coates.
The second round of conversions, which began in while the first batch of ebooks were still being corrected , was also fraught with complications. In an attempt to prevent further problems, the ACP had included specific language in the contract with its new conversion partner, Innodata. UBC Press had also included additional instructions along with the titles it submitted for conversion. Unfortunately, this second technology partner also failed to deliver files that met the requirements of the Press and the ACP, so similar delays ensued.
Almost all of the 62 files UBC Press submitted to Innodata in July had to be returned to the company in November and December of that year due to formatting errors. During the second round of proofing in May , errors were still being found in the files. In a sample of 36 ebooks, only 12 of the 25 EPDFs were of acceptable quality that is, contained few enough errors to be sold in good conscience , and only five of 11 EPUBs would validate. During this fiasco, Press staff also had to spend a significant amount of time and attention interfacing with its technology partners and the ACP.
Once UBC Press became aware of the quality of its files, Press employees also had to intervene and spend time checking each file—not once, but multiple times. This necessarily interrupted regular in-house operations. If an ebook is found to have a particularly high number of errors, these errors may affect unit sales for that particular electronic title. However, they could also lower sales for other titles as well, for the following reason. This is because the Press was not prepared for the state of the files it received through the CPDS program. When UBC Press received its first batch of ebooks back from CodeMantra in , Coates did not suspect that she would need to review each file individually for errors.
As the sole staff member responsible for this aspect of production, Coates also lacked the assistance that would have made a thorough review possible. As a result, dozens of botched EPDFs were distributed to libraries through ebook aggregators soon after they were delivered to the Press. It was also cursory by necessity: due to the volume of files that had to be reviewed, the student intern was only able to spend 10 minutes or so spot-checking each file Coates. As a result, many of the EPDFs that were put into circulation from the second round of conversions were functional, but still contained minor formatting errors e.
These ebook errors may have not only lowered the perceived quality of the product and of the Press itself, but they may have ultimately affected the profitability of the ebooks by delaying their distribution. After the Press had to send back files to Innodata for revision in November , libraries and vendors began contacting UBC Press because the ePDF versions of certain titles advertised in the Fall catalogue had not yet been made available to them Coates. As a result, library orders may have been dropped before these files were ready. Laraine Coates has expressed concern over the fact that the EPUBs first requested from Innodata in May were not yet sellable 18 months later, in November A year later, the EPUBs remain in unsellable condition and have yet to be distributed.
Consequently, the sale of these ebooks—and revenue from these sales—has been postponed, and may be forfeited altogether if the files cannot be brought to satisfactory standards. Metadata errors could further depress ebook sales by reducing the visibility of the files in an online environment. This makes it harder for potential customers to find and purchase that ebook online.
Metadata and validation errors therefore affect not just the discoverability of these electronic titles, but also their saleability. The potential risks and financial losses from this latest outsourcing experience may be largely incalculable, but these poorly formatted ebooks have already resulted in quantifiable costs incurred by the Press. The several rounds of proofing that UBC Press personnel have had to perform on each file has contributed to the overall cost of producing these ebooks.
In the summer of alone, 63 ebooks had to be proofread in-house at the Press. As it took roughly twenty minutes to thoroughly check each ebook often longer for EPUBS , this amounted to at least 21 hours of employee time. But when one considers the hassle and hidden costs that have come with these conversions, and the untold price paid by publishers whose brands have been compromised by a substandard product, outsourcing through the ACP has turned out to be far more expensive than the official price tag suggests.
Under its recent contracts with the Association of Canadian Publishers, UBC Press worked with two different companies, CodeMantra and Innodata: two large conversion houses whose operations are located overseas. The fact that UBC Press had disappointing experiences with both partners suggests that there may be problems not with each individual company, but with the business practices of large conversion houses in general.
In an article written in for the now defunct online publication eBookWeb , an industry insider exposed some systemic problems that were present even among early conversion houses. Trained only to carry out their assigned tasks, the employees perform repetitive functions e. This disunity affects the overall quality of the product and the ability of the ebook to function as a whole. On a human resource level, this assembly-line approach to conversion leads to low morale and motivation among workers, and a high turn-over rate.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, hiring low-skill workers instead of ebook designers or digital publishing professionals is more desirable for these companies, since their production method is built around tools, not training. Because the workers who rely on this software often operate independently from the programmers who write the scripts, there is seldom any feedback between users of these tools and their creators.
This disintegration results in the development of inefficient tools. Another problem endemic to these large companies is the issue of scale itself. To wit, the ACP contracts show that these conversion houses are often serving multiple clients in this case, 44 different Canadian publishers with divergent needs, simultaneously.
Clearly, the workflow used by the company—which might work well for producing EPUBs of trade fiction titles with fewer textual elements—could not easily accommodate the type of apparatus found in most scholarly books. The type of markup that results from these cookie-cutter conversions is often of low quality: a fact that, strangely enough, does not seem to hurt business, since the clients of these companies are often more concerned with the appearance of their ebooks than the integrity of their code. In the long term, however, an acceptance of low-grade code on the part of the publisher could affect the use of these ebooks both as archival files and as sellable wares.
If the code behind these ebooks does not comply with current best practices, these files may not be forward-compatible when newer versions of the EPUB standard are released. Bad code may also interfere with the ability of future devices to render the files properly. Far from being a safe investment, these poorly made files may in fact have a very short shelf life. This last point underscores a final problem that Salo warns against in her article: a lack of disclosure about workflow and markup on the part of these companies.
This reticence may stem from greater communication problems between these large companies and their clients. Staff at UBC Press, for instance, often complained that although they were assigned an intermediary contact person by the ACP, they could not communicate directly with those who were overseeing or performing their ebook conversions. However, Salo attributes this lack of disclosure to a more pernicious motive. This dependence does not sit well with some who work in the Canadian publishing industry. Canadian publishers are not just handing over their money and content to factories overseas; they are also giving up their immediate autonomy, and reducing their chances of achieving some measure of self-sufficiency in the future.
By continuing to rely on external parties to create and manage their ebooks, Canadian publishers are deferring the need to hire or train staff to carry out their digital publishing programs. At present, there is indeed a scarcity of ebook experts among Canadian publishers. This is particularly true of university presses. Of the 13 UPs in Canada, only two have staff whose sole purpose is to oversee their digital publishing programs.
Coates explains that she took on this responsibility in when another staff member in the Production department was away on maternity leave. Coates assumed this role because of her own personal interest in ebooks, and not her prior training or expertise in ebooks per se. Although Coates is occasionally able to attend workshops and discussion panels on ebooks organized by various professional associations e. Because the Press had been outsourcing ebook production from the start, Press staff found themselves without the tools or skills necessary to modify the error-riddled ebooks produced through the CPDS program.
As a result, UBC Press had to send back converted files that needed only minor corrections e. In this way, the decision to outsource has handicapped individual publishers and furthered their dependence on conversion partners by rendering them ill-equipped to handle their own ebooks. Over time, the tendency to outsource will also affect the self-sufficiency of the industry at large. Low demand for ebook-savvy employees in Canada will only lead to a lack of supply, for if there are few jobs available in digital publishing in this country, there is little incentive for publishing professionals to pursue training in this field, and limited opportunities for them to obtain on-the-job experience.
In the absence of expertise at home, outsourcing abroad appears to be the only viable option for producing ebooks. Viewed this way, outsourcing threatens to become a self-perpetuating and self-justifying practice—one that leaves publishers without direct control over what has become an essential part of their publishing program.
The files being produced are of an unacceptable quality due to the batch processing and general business practices used by large conversion houses. Yet the decision to outsource has consequences not just for the individual publisher, but for the publishing industry as a whole. If the industry continues to outsource ebook production instead of developing the skills required to do so in Canada, those who outsource will have no other choice but to continue outsourcing in the future. In light of these problems, it seems advisable that Canadian publishers now look for practical ways to incorporate ebooks for forthcoming titles into their existing workflows, whether that be at the proofreading or at the production stage.
The next chapter will therefore propose various short- and long-term strategies that university presses such as UBC can use to gradually bring ebook production in house. By doing so, these presses can immediately address, and eventually avoid, the problems that have accompanied outsourcing. In the last decade, publishers faced the daunting task of converting their extensive backlists into multiple ebook formats whose staying power was somewhat questionable. Now that ebooks have become a standard part of publishing, and the bulk of their backlists have been converted through an outsourcing process that leaves much to be desired, publishers have begun to consider producing ebooks themselves.
In recent years, UBC Press has attempted to move some aspects of ebook production in-house. However, this shift must necessarily be a gradual one. The Press must first put short-term strategies in place to deal with the ebooks that will be produced by its technology partners in the near future. Only then can the Press begin to consider long-term changes to its own operations that would allow for the production of both print and electronic books in house. As discussed in the conclusion of Chapter 1, large-scale ebook conversions will continue to take place under the auspices of eBound Canada.
And UBC Press seems willing to continue outsourcing its ebook production to large conversion houses through this organization—for the time being. If this current system of outsourcing is to continue, though, there are various measures that publishers like UBC Press can put in place in order to attain a higher level of quality assurance for their ebooks. At UBC Press, print books typically undergo several stages of review during production. Typeset text is first reviewed by a professional proofreader, as well as the author. Any corrections to these pageproofs are then collated by staff and entered by the typesetter.
The final laser proofs provided by the printer are verified once more by a production editor before being approved for print. However, when the Press began to publish ebooks, these steps—or their digital equivalent—were not being carried out. As a result, ebooks are not subject to the same kind of rigorous review that print books are. The need for better quality control over ebooks was the topic of a recent roundtable discussion hosted by Digital Book World, an online community forum whose events are sponsored by industry professionals and companies like Aptara and Ingram Publishing Group.
During this discussion, Laura Dawson, Digital Managing Editor for Hachette Book Group, recommended that publishers take measures to review their ebooks—even especially if these ebooks were produced out of house by a technology partner. However, UBC Press would benefit from the standardization of theproofreading process. One way of doing this, Laura Dawson suggests, is to create a central document that outlines the quality control procedures that should be performed by those handling ebooks in-house.
See Appendix A. If production staff were to start budgeting time for this activity and for further rounds of revisions and review, as needed , those in marketing would have a more realistic sense of when an electronic edition of a title will be available for distribution. Normalizing the proofreading process would also result in ebooks being reviewed in-house on a regular basis, not just when extra help is available from student employees, who are typically hired during the summer months. Liz Kessler, Publisher of Adams Media, points out that it may, in fact, be more advantageous to have the same publishing staff be responsible for the quality of print books and ebooks.
Kessler notes that editors and proofreaders work most closely with a title, and are most familiar with the content and formatting requirements of a particular manuscript. These same staff are therefore best suited to reviewing ebooks, as they will notice irregularities and omissions more easily than an intern or co-op student who has little to no familiarity with that manuscript.
Reassigning proofreading tasks to relevant members of the publishing team may also redress the human resource problem identified in the previous chapter. Instead of making ebooks the sole responsibility of one overburdened staff member, the publisher can draw from the expertise of several employees. By doing so, the publisher would also turn ebooks into a shared concern of the publishing team, as has long been the case with print books.
As was mentioned in Chapter 3, the metadata within these files is often incomplete, and this affects the visibility and identifiability of that digital object once it is in the supply chain. Solving this problem will require cooperation from both publishers and technology partners. Publishers will need to stipulate higher metadata standards within their statements of work, as well as provide more detailed publication information to their technology partners.
These technology partners would, in turn, need to respect the standards outlined in their contracts and take the time to embed the provided metadata within the files they produce, even if this means inserting it manually. Furthermore, it would behoove both publishers and their technology partners to adopt the standards recommended by the International Digital Publishing Forum IDPF , an industry association that creates and maintains technology standards in order to encourage interoperability within the field of electronic publishing.
The IDPF recommendations would also provide an opportunity for publishers to supply additional information about their titles: for instance, the subject categories listed on the Cataloguing in Publication page within a print book could be included as values for the subject element in an ebook, e.
This granular level of data is helpful for marketing purposes, and it may also make cataloguing easier for institutions or for individuals who use programs like Calibre to store and manage their personal ebook libraries. While most of the eyesores resulted from formatting errors, these ebooks on the whole lacked the styling and attention to design found in their print counterparts, and in the EPDFs, which retained the layout of the original print books.
However, publishers who outsource ebook production can exercise more control over the appearance of their EPUBs by creating or commissioning their own stylesheets, a practice that many leading publishers have already adopted. These CSS files determine the styling of the content documents and can therefore control certain aspects of the ebook, such as paragraph alignment, typeface, relative font size, line spacing, etc. From the viewpoint of print production, stylesheets are best seen as the EPUB equivalent to the layout templates used to format and typeset a print book.
See discussion of Wild Element below. Using stylesheets to shape the appearance of content would not only enhance the production value of these ebooks, but it would also provide visual consistency between ebooks, thereby allowing UBC Press to extend its brand to those files being produced by another party. Stylesheets could also reduce the possibility of formatting errors by imposing stylistic uniformity on the text and images.
While a stylesheet can enhance the surface appearance of an ebook, the best solution to sloppy formatting is better-built ebooks. This requires long-term solutions to outsourcing. Finding a More Suitable Technology Partner. When faced with a batch of error-filled ebooks, a publisher can choose to improve upon the files produced by its technology partner, or it can improve upon its choice of technology partner. Consequently, these scholarly ebooks seem to suffer from an unusually high number of formatting errors.
In addition to causing problems during production, the apparatus that comes with academic books also adds to the cost of conversion. This is because, in the fee structures used by large-scale conversion houses, price is often indexed to the length of the text, along with the number of figures and the number of links a given ebook edition will contain.
This pricing system effectively penalizes publishers of monographs and reference books, which are typically longer than trade books, and which contain numerous notes and lengthy indices. One alternative to hiring large conversion houses overseas is to hire smaller ebook design firms, which are cropping up in North America. Instead of signing contracts for bulk orders, these companies tend to work on a project-by-project basis with their clients, much like freelancers do.
This difference in production method seems to stem from a fundamentally different approach to ebook conversion. In fact, UBC Press has already begun to use smaller design companies for specific projects. The Press was particularly concerned that the EPUB edition of this title be attractive, error-free, and ready in time for the launch of the print book, since this title was expected to be a trade crossover with a high-profile publicity campaign. As the figures below show, its layout reflected a consideration for aesthetics as well as an attention to detail that was missing from the ebooks produced by codeMantra and Innodata.
Though the Press was pleased with this one-time, alternative outsourcing experience and with the end product, it is clear that the services offered by a company like WildElement are no replacement for large-scale ebook production. Their emphasis on tailored design and digital craftsmanship seems to align these companies with the letterpress printers, but just like their paper-based counterparts, these companies are restricted in the volume of books they can produce due to the small size of their operations, their attention to detail, and their preference for custom coding.
Ebook design firms are thus unable to process large batches of files as conversion houses do. Because they are situated in North America and hire trained professionals, they face higher labour costs, so their services come at a premium.
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The EPUB featured above, for instance, cost three to four times as much to produce as a comparable title would through a company like Innodata. Publishers who decide to use such companies will therefore need to be choosier about which titles they publish as ebooks. These types of decisions would ideally be based on a long-term epublishing strategy.
Since its early deals with NetLibrary and Gibson Publishing, the Press has pursued those opportunities which have allowed it to acquire multiple ebook formats for the greatest number of titles at as little cost as possible. Books that proved too expensive to convert under previous agreements simply were not digitized.
University presses should be particularly selective when deciding which titles to convert to the newer EPUB format. Not only is the EPUB format more difficult and expensive to produce, but also its usefulness for academic publishers has yet to be proven. As was explained in Chapter 1, EPUBs are designed for use on tablets and e-reading devices, and are carried by ebook retailers like Kobo and Apple.
The EPUB format is therefore aimed at the trade market. However, UP content is not. These factors should be taken into account, along with any available ebook sales data, as UPs try to determine which of their titles will work as EPUBs. Ultimately, this format may be found to be unsuitable for scholarly publishers. UBC Press has already demonstrated some capacity for in-house ebook production by successfully integrating one ebook format into its own workflow. Although these enhanced PDFs do not have as many features as the uPDFs produced by CodeMantra,  they are an affordable and efficient alternative to outsourcing.
Since these ePDFs began to be produced in house, there is little delay between the publication of print and electronic editions, as the web-ready ePDFs and the simple PDFs used for printing are produced almost simultaneously. Where the latter is essentially an image of a print book, the former is a collection of marked-up files in a. The Press has considered this prospect in the past. At the time, Fahlgren recommended that the Press create a new workflow that uses styles in Word. If implemented, this method would have resulted in a transfer of styled content from Word to InDesign, and eventually into the EPUB format.
As it turns out, authors, freelancers, and staff members had different versions of Word, which made sharing files under this new system even more cumbersome. Staff discovered that styles would be lost during the transfer, or would reappear in one version of Word after having been deleted in another. This production method also would have required a lot of cleanup along the way, as Microsoft Word is a proprietary software program that produces a lot of idiosyncratic and extraneous code. Yet staff are understandably skeptical about the prospect of adopting an altogether new mark-up system.
Presumably, then, both the initial tagging and the proofing of these documents would need to be performed by an additional staff member or a freelancer who possesses these skills. Keller also wonders how adopting EPUB production would affect workload and priorities within her department. In fact, textual markup is an extension of the editorial function, as it involves identifying the elements and structure of a manuscript. Though these tags are open not closed and are not nested, they are analogous to the types of XML tags used in the content files of an EPUB: both types of tags are a form of semantic markup that describe the different parts of a document so that they can later be expressed or manipulated in a certain way.
With a minimal amount of staff training, this process could be modified to include XML markup. If the Press were to start out with well-tagged content, they could use the same source file to produce both print and electronic versions of a title. This workflow would be much more efficient than the current system, wherein content is first formatted for print only, and must later be stripped and tagged with XML afterward in order to produce an EPUB.
DocBook is an XML schema commonly used in the production of books. The TEI guidelines, which have been under development since the s, have come to form a standard for the representation of texts in digital form within the humanities. Although TEI has largely been used to digitize those texts used as primary sources within humanities research i. Because the TEI was developed to describe physical manuscripts, it can accommodate the type of textual elements commonly found in scholarly books, like notes and tables.
It also contains more specialized element groups that could be used to tag UP texts that are at present rather tricky to produce as ebooks. However, the TEI has a dictionary module and a set of elements that identify language corpora. This comprehensive tag set could help identify these special elements up front and preserve them during conversion. Members of the digital humanities community have long anticipated the applications of TEI in scholarly publishing. In June , a special interest group on this topic was formed at the Association of American University Presses.
University of North Carolina. Other academic institutions have also adopted digital publishing workflows based in TEI encoding. Using a TEI-first workflow would therefore allow publishers to export their EPUBs more directly, instead of having to prepare a manuscript for print first and convert it afterward. Yet the addition of this TEI tagging process would not entirely disrupt the print-based production workflow currently used by publishers like UBC Press. Documents tagged in TEI can also be imported into traditional desktop publishing programs like InDesign, where they can then be shaped for the printed page Reed.
In addition to producing print and electronic books more efficiently, TEI would allow university presses to repurpose their content in other ways. In the future, TEI documents could be used to create other academic resources, such as online databases or archives, should a press wish to expand its digital publishing activities to include these types of products. Because TEI is used primarily by members of the academic community, there may be opportunities for publishers to partner with digital humanists and electronic text centres that already exist within universities.
The Journal Incubator at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta provides an inspiring example of for how students may take on support roles in digital scholarly publishing. Students who are placed at the Incubator through graduate assistantships and co-op placements acquire training in editorial and production skills, including XML encoding and processing. These students then apply these skills while working for the Incubator: their services, which are primarily used to publish electronic journals, are offered to departments within their own institution, as well as those from outside the university.
The applications of TEI within scholarly publishing are thus quite promising. Although it may be too risky for an individual press to experiment with TEI-first publishing on its own, this option should certainly be pursued by industry organizations like the Association of Canadian University Presses.
Scholarly publishers may just find a long-term solution to their outsourcing woes by looking within their own university communities for expertise and assistance. There are several ways for publishers to avoid error-filled files and ensure better quality ebooks. Publishers can reduce the number of formatting errors by proofreading their ebooks in-house; they can also enhance the appearance of their EPUBs by applying their own stylesheets.
At the same time, by augmenting the metadata contained within these files, publishers can increase the amount of information available on their digital titles and ensure greater discoverability for them once they are in the supply chain. However, these are short-term solutions to a systemic problem. If publishers wish to avoid error-filled files in the future, they need to consider more fundamental changes to the way they approach ebook production.
This could mean finding a partner that will convert ebooks more carefully, which may, in turn, require publishers to be more selective in the number of titles they convert into EPUBs. If publishers like UBC Press choose to adopt the EPUB as a standard format for their ebooks, it may behoove them to move ebook production in-house entirely. By doing so, publishers could achieve a consistently better end product. More importantly, they could break their decade-long dependence on large conversion houses that have become a liability. There is also an opportunity for the typecoding system currently used by production editors to be expanded into the kind of XML tagging that would enable the Press to produce EPUBs.
A TEI-first workflow would result in better-tagged documents and easier EPUB exports and it would allow the Press to continue using standard design and layout software to create its print books. As part of the services it provides, UBC Press represents these publishers at Canadian conferences and hand-sells their books at these events.
Amazon also sets maximum list prices for publishers.
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It should be noted, though, that university presses are not alone in charging more for ebooks destined for the library market. Large trade publishers are also experimenting with higher ebook prices in order to offset a perceived loss in sales that may result from unlimited lending of ebooks through libraries.
By staggering the release of formats in this way, the Press encourages libraries—whose goal is to stock new releases in a timely manner—into purchasing more expensive, cloth-bound versions of titles. The ebrary platform is used by other publishers as a way of distributing their ebooks e.
For books that were commonly used in the classroom, UBC Press decided to convert these titles, but withheld the files from the CEL collection so as to protect the print sales that came from course adoptions. The term itself is protected under copyright. Smith also discuss this phenomenon as it relates specifically to Amazon.
Both Questia and ebrary operated on slightly different revenue model than NetLibrary. Instead of selling unlimited access to a whole ebook, these companies charged by usage. For instance, the POD PDF, which took less time and effort to produce, was the least expensive ebook format, whereas the EPUB, which required a good deal of additional coding, was the most expensive.
It has been shown that misspellings in website copy negatively affect online sales, as they raise doubts over the credibility of the website. In one UK study, revenue per visitor doubled after a single typo was fixed Coughlan. Those who work within the publishing industry have also pointed out to the real cost of errors like typos see Heffernan. The program does not prompt staff to open or preview the files created by CodeMantra before sending them out to various distribution channels. Given that professional proofreaders are much more thorough, a formal review process would likely cost a great deal more time and money if carried out by a hired freelancer.
This 1,page work examines in particular Johnson's battle to pass a landmark civil rights bill through Congress without it tearing apart his party, whose southern bloc was anti-civil rights while the northern faction was more supportive of civil rights. Although its scope was limited, the ensuing Civil Rights Act of was the first such legislation since the Reconstruction era. The book was released on April 23, Hardeman Prize. The page book was released on May 1, In November , Caro estimated that the fifth and final volume would require another two to three years to write.
In an interview with The New York Review of Books in January , Caro said that he was writing about and and a non-chronological section about the relationship between Johnson and Bobby Kennedy. Asked if he still planned to visit Vietnam soon, Caro replied: "Not yet, no.
This is a very long book. And there's a lot to do before that's necessary. I'm getting close to it now. Throughout the biography, Caro examines the acquisition and use of political power in American democracy, from the perspective both of those who wield it and those who are at its mercy. In an interview with Kurt Vonnegut and Daniel Stern , he once said: "I was never interested in writing biography just to show the life of a great man," saying he wanted instead "to use biography as a means of illuminating the times and the great forces that shape the times—particularly political power.
Caro's books portray Johnson as alternating between scheming opportunist and visionary progressive. Caro argues, for example, that Johnson's victory in the runoff for the Democratic nomination for the U. Senate was achieved through extensive fraud and ballot stuffing , just as Johnson had lost his Senate race because his opponent stuffed the ballot boxes more than Johnson.
Despite these criticisms, Caro's portrayal of Johnson also notes his struggles on behalf of progressive causes such as the Voting Rights Act of From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Biography series by Robert Caro. Biography portal. January 21, Caro on the Secrets of Lyndon Johnson's Archives". The New Yorker. Retrieved January 26, National Book Foundation. Retrieved With acceptance speech. Hardeman Prize". LBJ Foundation. Retrieved 18 October New York Times. Retrieved March 1, LA Times.
Retrieved April 21, Retrieved December 3, Archived from the original on Library Journal.