Pursuing “either-and”

Making a business case for new publishing workflows

Last month Sheila Bounford posted a dense and layered summary of the U.K.’s 2011 Academic and Professional Booksellers Group Conference.  I’ve returned to it several times across the intervening weeks.

Bounford offers ten key take-aways that feel global in their application.  Several have an impact on publishing workflows, including:

• Print and digital will continue to co-exist; the discussion is “either-and”, not “either-or”

• Dedicated e-reading devices are not a primary tool; laptops are.  Although Bounford doesn’t specifically cite browser-based access, it’s clearly an advantage for web-enabled devices; and

• Increased access to enhanced instructional packages will become a requirement in the near term.

There has been a recent debate about whether enhanced eBooks and book apps will ever take off.  There is no one answer, but where the use of web-enabled devices dominates a market, it may signal an appetite for enhancements and interactivity.

In all cases, Bounford’s observations make clear that publishing workflows need to support multiple uses of the same content, probably with interactive feature development occurring over time.

It’s not just cross-platform, either.  Reading about the student who asked for “bigger margins” to write notes led me to ask, “Why couldn’t that be offered as a premium edition?

The post concludes with several cogent observations about the business models in place for teaching and academic publishing.  Though not workflow-related, they are well worth consideration both in the U.K. and the U.S., markets where peer review dominates and may need reconsideration and refinement.

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