• el
  • pt
  • Retool or die

    eBook adoption has spawned technology innovation, allowing traditional publishers to realize sweeping productivity gains that should drive revenue growth and competitiveness. But those gains will only come from initiatives to adopt and integrate new tech solutions.

    eBook creation infrastructure and services are ripe for change. Vook estimates eBook costs such as design, conversion, enhancement, marketing, QA, distribution and sales tracking amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars this year alone — eating away at book publisher profits. Add that to the cost of distribution from etailers such as Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, and profit margins are squeezed, wiping out gains that should be realized moving from physical to digital products.

    A number of publishers are suddenly facing up to these realities and rethinking their workflow, systems and processes. They are questioning their hobbled-together production architecture that layers on incremental performing technologies and outsourced solutions on top of old-world physical book production.

    After some honest examination, the bubble gum and paper clip approach to eBooks is proving to be too expensive, too inflexible and too prone to errors. The challenge is the classic “time and money” quandary with publishers using a variety of different vendor and software packages with limited collaboration and tracking capabilities.

    Moreover, the current workflows do not scale and both eBook production insiders and executives are admitting it to one another. Demand for a more complete solution has never been stronger.

    The weight of legacy systems is often underestimated. The people responsible for eBook production often see new technologies as threatening and do a poor job of estimating the true costs of their approach. And they retreat to the tired practices when they cannot find the perfect solution.

    2012 will be the year for publishers to get strategic with their technology solutions — throwing out the past and starting over. If they fail to do so, they will be unable to compete.

    In other industries, manufacturers, retailers and financial service companies who wanted to survive all aggressively dumped old systems and started over. Take cloud computing. Companies that ripped out their old IT departments and moved to the cloud are more efficient, agile and competitive. Most importantly, they freed up tech resources that can be devoted to innovation.

    For publishes, their one advantage will be timely and cost effective production, but that edge swings on how bold they are wiling to be with their technology solutions.