Maintaining the status quo is anathema to any digital solutions player. Not only is the competition always snapping at their heels but the client base (i.e., the publishing industry) constantly demands something new, unique, and robust to keep the workflow energized, audiences engaged, and content monetized.
Cloud-based systems are now the must-have functionality, and “agnostic,” “interactive,” “intuitive,” and “seamless” are the adjectives that fuel the ideation and development of workflow solutions and platforms. Publishing clients expect no less than optimal price points to go with turbo-charged efficiencies and ever-shorter turnaround times, which means that exerting maximum control over production, content, and e-deliverables is the order of the day.
Protecting Data and Privacy
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is proving to be a distracting, if not disruptive, curveball to the digital publishing process. The European Union’s recent implementation of GDPR to protect personal data and privacy “is set to affect the future of the digital publishing business,” says Indira Rajan, CEO of Lapiz Digital Services. “It is an important issue that both sides—digital solutions providers and publishing clients—will need to assess and contend with.”
Restrictions on gathering reader information is inevitable. “If readers refuse to share their details, then publishers will have little to no analytical data, which may impact the overall implementation of new strategies,” says Subrat Mohanty, CEO of Hurix Digital. “It will also influence retargeting advertisements, which publishers rely on by capturing targeted reader information. Some dip in programmatic advertisement spending is highly likely, as publishers will not get a proper read on whether a specific advertisement has led to a purchase.”
Vinit Khanna, the founder and CEO of OKS Group, finds that, as an ISO-certified company, “the new rules that GDPR brings to the table are not far from those already in place within our group. But we do expect some degree of caution from EU publishing houses when they embark on new partnerships with us.”
The domino effect of globalization means that the GDPR impact will go beyond Europe, says Saraswathi Herurmath, assistant v-p of quality management at Impelsys. “There are significant changes in how data is acquired and managed under GDPR,” Herurmath says. “For publishers, for whom data is an intrinsic business tool, some hiccups at the initial stage are expected, but this regulation opens up new opportunities to consolidate data strategy, to streamline it, and to make it more efficient. And with consent at every step of the way, the trust between customers and businesses is duly fortified.”
Deploying Artificial Intelligence
The siren song of AI and natural language processing (NLP) is real, “but publishers need to understand that not all content is equal, and not all content and products lend themselves to reaping the benefits of automation,” says Waseem Andrabi, v-p of content services at Cenveo Publisher Services. If content can be structured and consistent rules applied, Andrabi says, “then automation will bring benefits in terms of speed to market, quality, and consistency.”
For Andrabi, it is imperative that publishers work with partners who are fluent with onboarding content into major systems and identifying content styles and rules. “AI is great,” Andrabi says, “but it takes human intelligence to tell a system what to do.”
While AI and NLP are already in use for content distribution, their disruptive forces are now being explored for content creation, says Sriram Subramanya, the founder and CEO of Integra Software Services. “Digital content publishing has moved from centralized content creation to cloud-based solutions to enhanced distribution and visibility throughout the publishing process. If past trends are an indication, then tomorrow’s will revolve more around content curation, inclusive publishing, and a very engaging user experience—all aided by AI and NLP.”
AI is definitely the single most important development in recent months for Maran Elancheran, president of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “Publishing, like other industries, will be revolutionized by how we use AI to streamline content delivery,” Elancheran says. “Once it matures, all workflows may be different, and tools will be re-envisioned. From content creation to consumption, everything can potentially change, with AI bringing about a completely new paradigm to both the publishing and the digital solutions industries.”
At MPS, a cognitive production system that profiles content and orchestrates the production process is already in place. “This system is based on the principle of selective control and exception processing, whereby a machine algorithm determines the nature and level of intervention based on content complexity, and routes the content accordingly,” says CEO Rahul Arora.
Concepts of AI, machine learning, robotic process automation, and NLP are new to both the publishing and the digital solutions industries. “But it is clear,” says Abhigyan Arun, CEO of TNQ, “that the future of production technology is heading that way, because it must become far more efficient while retaining, or potentially increasing, the quality threshold. This blurs the lines between the traditionally known ‘prepress’ vendors and ‘technology’ suppliers. While prepress vendors always have technology, the demand for technology awareness and leadership is at a completely different level.”
Embracing the Old and the New
TNQ “straddles the two worlds of complex and nonstandard requirements of a society publisher and the increasingly standard requirements of a traditional publisher,” Arun says. “Our tools, workflows, and underlying architecture are designed to handle both. While we take a futuristic view when designing our technology, we also make sure it works with conventional workflows.”
But how to integrate new technologies for better output and improved user engagement remains a concern for the publishing industry, says Mohanty of Hurix Digital. “The shift to abandoning age-old Flash technology for HTML5 is aimed at achieving better user engagement. Now, the industry is adopting AR, which, along with enhanced user experience, is expected to bridge the gap between physical and digital books. However, most publishers find this shift expensive, in addition to being unsure of its long-term benefits to their audience—and this poses a roadblock to further digitization and technology development in the industry.”
Additionally, Mohanty finds that those who have already made the switch to digital platforms are struggling to keep their readers engaged. “The younger generation, with its short attention span, puts great pressure on the digital publishing industry to innovate and improve the engagement levels of their e-books,” Mohanty says. “AR is one solution. Another is to add reflowable content, allowing users to read on their device of choice without any disruption to the overall user experience.”
For Rajan, of Lapiz Digital, the fact remains that most of the production workflows in the market are still not geared toward mobile content. “Whether content can be mobile-first or mobile-only is something that we will see very soon,” Rajan says. “However, traditional workflows have certainly embraced accessibility standards, turning them into ‘born accessible’ workflows—and this is really good for the industry as a whole.”
How publishers adapt, and adhere, to recent regulations, such as having alternate text to images, will also determine the growth of accessible content and digitization, says Elancheran, of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “For the frontlist, which should be born accessible, it is easy to ask the author, or add a clause in the contract, to provide alternate text. But what about the backlist? Do publishers take these titles down from their sites because they are not WCAG-compliant? Or do they connect with offshore vendors to start the accessibility process?”
At the same time, Elancheran wonders whether publisher websites will be redeveloped to make them accessible. “In the U.S., there has been an increase in lawsuits against companies because their websites are hard to navigate for people with impairment,” Elancheran says. “Again, for publishers, the regulatory requirements for accessible content will translate into increased spending, investment, and efforts. For the digital solutions industry, there is an urgent need to build processes and change workflows to cover accessibility while retaining competitive pricing.”
Talking Dollars and Sense
The cost of creating books and the ability to rely upon a partner to help, says Tyler Carey, chief revenue officer at Westchester Publishing Services, “are topics that affect us and likely every vendor in the industry. Publishers are stuck in a scenario of mutually conflicting and dependent circumstances. The all-in cost to edit and typeset a book in-house—overheads, recruitment of copy editors, review with authors, and so on—can be staggering to many chief financial officers. At the same time, the perceived risks or costs of losing control of IP by handing it over to an outside firm to manage is nerve-racking to the production director or managing editor. This creates a challenge for all vendors: quality has to be constantly upheld by all of us, or the bad performance of a few players damages everyone.”
While Carey and his team have benefited from several vendor replacement exercises, he finds that, in many cases, “the decision is triggered not by the need to pick a replacement vendor but has more to do with evaluating the decision to bring the work back in-house.” (Westchester published a white paper, “Prepress Services for Publishers: In-house or Third Party,” through PW in March.)
A funding crunch looms large. “It is straining scholarly publishing programs and research at universities and their presses,” says Subramanya, of Integra Software Services. “It is certainly impacting institutional subscription revenues for scholarly publishers, requiring them to find innovative revenue models through direct access to end users. And this is where discoverability and relevancy comes in. As for the higher education publishing segment, sliding enrollment due to sociopolitical factors and employability challenges across the world continues to roil revenue streams. ROI on digital products and digitization is going to take longer than expected. Another challenge is the availability of Open Education Resources, or OER, which directly affects a publisher’s competency in curating and developing impactful content to facilitate learning.”
Vidur Bhogilal, vice chairman of Lumina Datamatics, is seeing scholarly publishers consolidating the number of vendors they use, working on services and solutions at optimized price points, and seeking out vendors to invest in technology. “While these publishers also expect innovation, they may not be too keen to invest,” Bhogilal says. “These factors combined have resulted in margin pressures for vendors, mostly due to rising production costs and continuous expectations for price optimization.”
Not surprisingly, making publishing sustainable for society publishers, university presses, and small and midsize publishers with limited funding and resources is one major goal for Ravi Venkataramani, the cofounder and CEO of Exeter Premedia Services. “For these publishers,” Venkataramani says, “the wherewithal required to constantly upskill their team to keep pace with changing consumer needs and newer technologies while consistently producing high-quality, high-impact publications without increasing the budget or resources is a big hurdle.”
New print editions are down in the education space while publishers are committed to having a larger presence in both digital and rental markets, says Bhogilal, of Lumina Datamatics. “Most publishers are also generating a major part of their revenues from new editions that are executed through modular workflows. They are looking more at unique products that provide meaningful learning outcomes, which means that their needs for assessment, interactivity, and validation are growing.”
Content monetization remains problematic. “Publishers often wonder if they will be able to monetize their content by investing in digital technologies and, if yes, when the returns will show,” says A.R.M. Gopinath, executive v-p at DiacriTech. “Unfortunately, new technologies keep coming up, and there is simply no straight answer to their question. The one thing that publishers should remember is that content must be future-ready and that this has to be done in a cost-effective manner without compromising its enrichment and value. In this evolving world of education and content dissemination, there is no single perfect solution to content monetization.”
Pricing pressures continue to challenge everyone in the market—content consumers, service providers, and publishers, says Marianne Calilhanna, marketing director at Cenveo Publisher Services. “The ubiquity of publishing tools and content contributes to the false perception that publishers provide little value,” Calilhanna says. “The Society for Scholarly Publishing has a classic blog post—Kent Anderson’s ‘102 Things Journal Publishers Do’—that dives into details on the values that publishers provide. While this list is specific to the scholarly market, educational publishers and even trade publishers will find parallels in the list.”
Ongoing Industry Transition
Publishers are trying to redefine themselves and searching for the right business model, says Arun, of TNQ. “Elsevier, for instance, is evolving into a data analytics company and analyzing everything differently from that angle—and this is an exciting transition phase. Hindawi, PNAS, and eLife, on the other hand, have changed the Open Access platform into a mainstream output with very high-quality benchmarks and efficient workflows. In fact, OA seems free of the inefficiencies faced by conventional publishing workflows. Then you have small society publishers who, having encountered difficulties in sustaining their unique model, are merging with commercial publishers.”
The publishing industry is going through a unique transition right now, says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p of technology services and presales at Impelsys. “We have seen that technology-enhanced content has the power to change how we read and learn. While consumers are digitally savvy and want access to content on the fly, in smaller bytes, and interlinked, content creators have been playing catchup. This is partly because consumers have constantly evolving usage patterns, which requires that platforms also evolve easily. In the absence of such platforms, publishers may not see the desired ROI.”
The growth of OERs in educational publishing has seen MPS investing in talent—in instructional design and editorial management. “This investment is to enable the differentiation and competitiveness of our clients as they develop their products that are powered by us,” says Arora, of MPS.
The increased focus in life cycle management on the complete user experience has prompted Arora to look into enhancing all MPS platforms and to deliver top-quality author services (editorial, creative, and marketing) to clients. “The acquisition of THINK,” Arora says, “which covers everything from order management to cash cycle, allows us to support our clients’ clients in their customer life cycle through technology and dedicated customer support.”
And while the publishing industry has traditionally been slow to digitize, in recent years there has been significant adoption of various technologies, such as research collaboration, production workflow tools, and discoverability. “The challenge now lies in keeping pace with the changes in technology and in leveraging technology effectively,” says Venkataramani, of Exeter Premedia Services. “In some cases, there is a need to tackle the flip side of adopting multiple technologies—for instance, the use of multiple systems and/or services that are not smoothly interoperable.”
Addressing Digitization Hiccups
The question of how to frame an XML schema—and how to achieve an XML-first workflow—has undermined many publishers’ digitization efforts, according to Khanna, of OKS Group. “Publishers also have other concerns: immense pressure on profit margins and production budgets, high demand for interactive e-learning products, shorter time to market, and intense competition to produce innovative methodologies across all streams,” Khanna says. “All these exert an impact on the funding of an XML migration strategy.” Publishers, Khanna says, “need thorough groundwork before embarking on such a strategy so that their content creation requirements are properly and adequately incorporated into the XML schema, which will minimize the chances of their efforts and financial investments ending in vain.”
Even though his team is constantly improving automation and making workflows more efficient, it “often has to work with client platforms and methodologies that are not yet configured with the latest technologies,” Khanna says. “This forces us to downgrade the way we work, resulting in lower productivity and longer lead times.”
Schools, districts, and professors are still slow in adopting digital publishing, says Bhogilal, of Lumina Datamatics. “At times, students themselves prefer the print product and strongly influence school and teacher decisions. So the present market is not homogenous, and the print book is the standardized product with a generally accepted role in education.” With digital education products being overwhelming in their diversity and with the science on what works still nascent, Bhogilal finds that “there is little market agreement on what is best—and that has prevented further adoption and wider consumption.”
The obstacles in digitization, says Carey, of Westchester Publishing Services, are largely business driven. “In past years, there was a high level of expectation for e-books, but with print sales expanding and e-books cooling down, some publishers are scaling back on their backlist conversion or delaying experimental ePub projects,” Carey says. But the juvenile fiction segment “is seeing more activity, with publishers reprioritizing fixed-layout projects that involve working with files and formats that predate InDesign and therefore require more effort and cost to resurrect from the archives.”
On the supplier side, fast-changing technologies mean that the choice is to either innovate or be left behind, says Amit Vohra, the founder and CEO of Continuum Content Solutions. “Then there is the recruitment issue,” Vohra says. “A small or medium-sized operation may not need a full-time HR division for recruiting staff, but finding the right talent, and developing the relevant skills and competencies, is key to a sustainable future, especially during peak growth periods.”
As for the client side, Vohra observes that some publishers are not willing to respond to or provide their views on time, which causes unwarranted delays in the content digitization process. “This plodding may be the result of their inability to assimilate new workflows, which in turn fortifies their unwillingness to move away from the traditional work process,” Vohra says. “So it becomes a vicious cycle despite the urgent need to implement new technologies and solutions to provide faster turnarounds and shorter time to market.”
Building a system that is comprehensive but still malleable enough to adapt to the different ways publishers work is one major issue. “We provide an interface that is easy enough to be used by every participant in the publishing process, including writers, editors, designers, proofreaders, and partners,” says Ashok Giri, CEO at PageMajik. “Another issue that we face comes from the very nature of PageMajik itself. A lot of the work we do is new and innovative, which means that there are no clear guidelines for how we should proceed or mark progress. But we have to deal with this, and the only way to move forward is to keep delivering on the goals we set for ourselves.”
Skepticism from publishers about whether any single system can fit their unique working style is widespread and understandable, Giri says. “We fight this by being scrupulously open about our capabilities and by testing the system using files from prospective clients themselves to show that we really can deal with books and journals like theirs. We also run trials with prospective clients to demonstrate that our system can deliver what has been promised. At the same time, we make the technology transition less painful by making our entire CMS incredibly modular. This way, users are not forced to change anything they do not want to about how they work.”
Meanwhile, engaging consumers who are, in turn, empowered to create their own content and publish it for free is a challenge of its own, says Gopinath of DiacriTech. “User-generated content is now universal due to social media platforms,” Gopinath says. “So it is mandatory for publishers and production companies to embrace these new platforms in view of the fast-advancing publishing ecosystem. Unless the publisher is moving forward with digital engagement as fast as the technology and platform are evolving, there is going to be stagnation and opportunities lost to the competition.”
Publishers must also realize that the future of the content industry is going to be shaped by automation, AI, and Big Data, Gopinath says. “Data will be of more value, and businesses will revolve around the ability to adapt. Thus, the faster we evolve and adopt new technologies, the better the profits will be.”
On the brighter side, Rajan, of Lapiz Digital Services, says that “recent industry reports have implied that publishers who separate their online and print businesses were twice as innovative, with 60% higher market penetration than those that remained integrated. That is definitely food for thought.”
Cenveo Publisher Services
The application of AI and NLP is a key component of Smart Suite 2.0 from Cenveo Publisher Services, a cloud-based ecosystem of publishing tools that streamlines high-quality content production. When a manuscript is first processed in Smart Edit—a pre-edit, copyedit, and conversion module—AI runs an automated content cleanup, normalization, and style-application process. Next, NLP identifies content and scores the manuscript’s quality based on a grading system. “Manuscripts then flow to copyediting channels based on that score,” says Waseem Andrabi, v-p of content services. “Some may go to a copy editor for heavy editing, while others may go straight into composition via Smart Compose and then on to the author via Smart Proof.”
The fully automated Smart Compose production engine works with 3B2 and InDesign, and uses predefined styles to guarantee consistent and high-quality layouts. Browser-based Smart Proof provides authors and editors with a proofing tool that captures changes and allows for valid XML round tripping. Smart Track brings everything together in one easy UI that logs all content transactions and presents a visual flow of content as it moves through production stages.
“These four modules make up Smart Suite 2.0,” says marketing director Marianne Calilhanna, “the next generation publishing engine that utilizes a combination of AI, natural language processing, and system intelligence to significantly reduce human intervention and achieve the goal of high-speed publishing with editorial excellence.”
Earlier in the year, the Taylor Francis Group acknowledged Cenveo’s progress with a fivefold increase in full-service production volume. The critical piece that convinced TF to go with Cenveo was its technology stack. “It supports our publishing model and provides real-world, expedited publication turnaround time using AI and NLP technology,” says Stewart Gardiner, TF’s global production director. “The organizational and operational innovations that Cenveo proposed to support a rapid production scale-up were capabilities we have not seen from other providers and were clearly based on lessons learned in previous ramp-ups.”
Cenveo’s digital and e-learning services continue to grow. “Every organization, not just publishers, requires some form of e-learning offering to educate staff,” Calilhanna says, “whether that means instructing employees on phishing, social engineering email, or teaching best practices for file-sharing applications for its staff. This is where our new corporate learning division, Cenveo Learning, set for launch this summer, comes into the picture.”
Learn more about accessibility and how Cenveo can help.
Continuum Content Solutions
Significant upgrades have been made to ContinuumX, the company’s robust, agile, and seamless solution that is specifically targeted at the newspaper and magazine segment. “It now combines AI and NLP to process PDFs, allowing us to produce content pages 60 to 90 minutes from the time the PDFs are received from clients,” says Amit Vohra, founder and CEO.
Producing 8,000 to 9,000 XML pages daily from client-supplied PDFs is nothing new at Continuum Content Solutions. “ContinuumX now covers NDNP-based METS/ALTO file creation for archival newspaper, magazine, and journal content,” Vohra says. “This means that the issuance, pagination, and article-level metadata is automatically identified by the system itself. And best of all, the system’s configuration file can be modified to produce different PDFs and image files as required.” Automatic file validation tools have also been added for several ePub projects to allow the team to automate QA tasks.
“Publishers are now focused on the Replica Map file format,” Vohra says. “This format combines the rasterized version of original print layout with full-screen images of each page and reflowable representations of the text and images from individual articles. This means ContinuumX has to continually evolve to accommodate these changes while providing rapid turnaround time and high-quality deliverables to bring about savings in production costs and faster time-to-market for our clients.”
Continuum’s specialization in the newspaper and magazine segment has differentiated it from others in the market, with the team now working with media-monitoring companies, aggregators, and content syndication companies for projects ranging from XML file conversion to database product creation based on digitized archival content.
The next 12 months, Vohra says, will be focused on media-monitoring services. “For now, we provide digital file production services to create daily, weekly, and monthly digital publications within a three-hour turnaround time,” Vohra says. “We also publish content in multiple formats for different devices using the ContinuumX solution.”
To meet new demands from this niche segment, Vohra is looking at equipping ContinuumX with higher levels of automation and accuracy in addition to offering Latin and non-Latin language capabilities. “The solution now offers a number of built-in, for-export file formats that can be activated simultaneously for multiple delivery channels,” Vohra says. “Our experienced technology team is on hand to tweak the workflow to fit client requirements.”
Learn more about its media monitoring services.
Eleven publishers have adopted XEditPro, DiacriTech’s comprehensive publishing suite based on machine learning and AI, and the results have been positive. “The NLP and AI capabilities have proven to help copy editors and editors identify spelling and grammar issues while also ensuring that notes, images, tables, and references are cited and cross-linked,” says executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath. “References are checked against standard databases such as Crossref and PubMed, and parsed into their constituent parts. Missing data is automatically added for the copy editor to review.”
Using XEditPro, authors, copy editors, editors, and proofreaders can make edits directly—and simultaneously—to the copy, and their revisions are tracked. “Not only does XEditPro assist in the collaborative authoring and editorial process,” says executive v-p Mahesh Balakrishnan, “but it also generates print PDFs, web PDFs, XML, Word, and ePub files instantaneously. Such streamlining allows publishers to take control over the revision stages and trim the schedule and costs significantly.”
Every feature and functionality that has been integrated into XEditPro “comes from our two decades of knowledge and expertise in publishing services,” Gopinath says. “Additional requests coming from current adopters are helping us to build an even more robust platform for the publishing community.”
Traditional work processes, Gopinath says, “should be improved with viable, and sustainable, technology for publishers. A product such as XEditPro, for instance, adds value by combining workflows in a customizable fashion that is also easily integrated with existing systems; AI with human intuitiveness is a powerful way to decode any complexity. This is the strategy we have used to launch other solutions such as InXML.” Funding issues, he says, “are a major impediment to adopting new solutions, but most publishers are keen to explore innovative workflows and processes. They understand that traditional workflows have to change and that digitization is the future.”
Aside from XEditPro and InXML, another new solution coming from the DiacriTech team is Immersive Gaze, which focuses on interactive technology solutions. “As an organization, we have been steadily growing over the years, with services evolving around advanced technologies,” Balakrishnan says. “Our solutions are strategically prudent, and with Immersive Gaze, we have now diversified into the AR/VR/MR realm. Two major projects—an AR-based library and another using HoloLens MR for the healthcare sector—have proven our expertise in this new field.”
Check out DiacriTech’s ssparkl e-reader solution.
Exeter Premedia Services
To “deliver happy authors” is the promise (and slogan) of Kriya, a cloud-based publishing platform from Exeter Premedia. “Books typically have more complex workflows and longer cycle times than journals and are likely to have more than one contributing author,” says cofounder and CEO Ravi Venkataramani. “Kriya, which means definitive action in Sanskrit, has specific functionalities that enable authors to work simultaneously on multiple chapters in different stages of production, that offer automated indexing, that handle versioning—or backups and tracking across different articles, chapters, and users—and that provide secure setup with role-based access. These capabilities are made possible using an integrated CMS and configurable workflows.”
Kriya has a subscription-based pricing model for books and journals, says COO Sowmya Mahadevan, “to enable our clients to plan better, since their monthly costs are predictable and fixed. Clients can choose a page- or project-based model or a customized enterprise model that includes a cloud platform and professional support. By enabling process streamlining, Kriya injects a significant boost to productivity and output quality, thus transforming production into a profit center.”
This 14-year-old company developed Kriya after listening to clients’ pain points, wish lists, and insights. “The author-centric design and streamlined XML-first workflow empowers authors to directly edit and review, which increases productivity while reducing project turnaround time,” Venkataramani says, noting that a midsize U.K.-based scholarly publisher using Kriya has halved its production cycle time. “At another scholarly journal publisher, one production editor reported a 75% savings in time taken to proof, edit, update, and generate PDFs at every stage of the process. These are just some of the testimonials on Kriya’s effectiveness.”
A user new to Kriya can become adept at using the platform in as little as 30 minutes, Venkataramani says. “There is virtually no learning curve, and it does not need an IT infrastructure setup. It is inherently designed to integrate easily with any third-party system. Its open, documented API can communicate—or handshake—with other systems using SOAP and REST APIs.” Kriya has out-of-the-box integration with frequently used project management or workflow tracking systems, submission systems, and content aggregating or hosting platforms such as Atypon, HighWire, and Ingenta, Venkataramani says. “We continue to listen to clients and further enhance Kriya to best serve the publishing community and deliver happy authors.”
Learn more about how Kriya delivers value to its clients.
Kitaboo AR, launched in February, is about taking learning to the next level, says Hurix Digital CEO Subrat Mohanty. “It replicates the pages of a print book and adds versatile features such as embedded multimedia, easy navigation and searching, and links to breathe life into content,” Mohanty says. “By seamlessly bringing physical content and digital media together, learning becomes more engaging and immersive.”
With Kitaboo AR, Mohanty says, publishers can easily upload multiple digital assets—audio, video, or external links—to overlay in their physical books. “Students can point an app-enabled device at a physical page and discover digital content, which is a simple point-and-play feature,” Mohanty says. “In the back end, the app looks for the scanned page in the e-reader application, and upon finding a possible match, it brings up the page and showcases all the digital assets that the publisher has linked to the page.” In brief, Kitaboo AR is designed for publishers to make the most of their digital presence, improve content engagement, and retain their readers.
Five months on, work on enhancing Kitaboo AR has continued unabated. The latest upgrade enables readers to see the answer to math or physics questions on their app. “Readers no longer have to wait for the answers to be approved by their faculty,” Mohanty says. “This adds immediacy to the equation. Most publishers provide the answers on a separate page, which costs them additional time and effort. With Kitaboo AR, they can simply upload the solved question pages together with their e-books and allow readers to locate them.”
Kitaboo AR is based on Hurix’s flagship product, Kitaboo, which has won a Brandon Hall Group Excellence Award for five consecutive years. “Our understanding of the challenges publishers face in engaging tech-savvy readers and learners has led us to Kitaboo AR,” Mohanty says. “We are looking to promote this platform, which is now used by educational publishers, to enterprises where it can elevate the training and development experience.”
The Hurix team is also working on a reflowable ePub 3 tool—in addition to the existing fixed-layout tool—to allow publishers to create device-agnostic content automatically. “A tech-savvy audience is always on our mind,” Mohanty says, “and we work with our publishing clients to develop and enhance products and solutions that will engage this audience.”
Learn more about Kitaboo.
The launch of iPublishCentral Scholar at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair generated profound interest from publishers, professional associations, societies, and enterprises. “It was the major attraction at our booth at the London Book Fair,” says Pandith Jantakahalli, assistant v-p for product management. “Scholarly publishers are lauding the technology; a few are implementing it.”
“Scholar,” Jantakahalli says, “is about helping publishers avoid the cumbersome tasks of maintaining multiple platforms for different content types—journals, e-books, videos, continuing education courses, for instance—while increasing operational efficiencies by interacting with just one vendor for all their digital publishing requirements. It delivers a unified customer experience and valuable consumer analytics.”
Impelsys also offers iPublishCentral Health, an exclusive aggregator platform for the delivery and management of healthcare learning and skills development resources. The beta version went live at four participating hospitals at the end of June, and the full version is set for release in September. “Asia is seeing a massive growth in its healthcare industry,” Jantakahalli says. “In India alone, there will be an additional three million beds, 1.5 million physicians, and 2.4 million nurses by 2025. This growth creates a huge market for quality service and compliance, which in turn demands enhanced learning resources and technology for healthcare publishers. Our platform connects the burgeoning Asian hospital market with health educators and global publishers of health-care and medical science content. It acts as a conduit to deliver authoritative content to hospitals in Asia and, in turn, helps publishers expand to newer markets.”
Impelsys is now deeply immersed in building vanguard products that leverage its technologies, such as iPublishCentral Scholar and iPublishCentral Health, to provide solutions for enterprise learning, health care, and point of care. “Machine learning is used to enhance our learning solutions, such as question-bank creation,” Jantakahalli says. “We are also working on new solutions—Decision Support Tool and Enterprise Assessment Repository, for instance—that take us beyond our core interests in e-books and e-learning platforms.”
The company’s second software development and delivery center in Mangalore is now fully operational; its first key initiative—the Impelsys Internship Program for third- and fourth-year engineering students—is already showing positive outcomes. “This huge pool of fresh talent with new ideas and thinking will help us to expand our innovation efforts and the number of projects in the pipeline,” Jantakahalli says.
Learn more about iPublishCentral.
Integra Software Services
The latest out of Integra is its NLP-enhanced iAuthor solution. The NLP feature, says founder and CEO Sriram Subramanya, “assists in copyediting decisions by deploying the appropriate language editing tools, reduces project turnaround times, and shortens speed-to-market—all of which provide the client with significant cost savings derived from reduced cycle time and minimal human intervention.”
Integra’s freelance management system, iLancer, on the other hand, is enhanced to auto-analyze incoming projects to provide project managers with optimal response times. “For publishers, iLancer’s rapid response increases editorial productivity and maximizes production resources, resulting in about 15% to 20% cost reduction,” Subramanya says. “It also helps freelancers to better manage their work and helps them in productive task management.”
Machine learning and content analytics have been widely integrated into Integra’s workflow solutions and tools to improve production efficiencies and enhance quality of deliverables. “Take our workflow management software iWMS,” Subramanya says. “It is a customizable, database-driven, and Windows-based multiuser client-server application that uses Big Data analytics. It integrates all production tools for processing files according to any predetermined workflow with analytics deployed to fully track tasks across various processes via the system.” Subramanya says that iWMS offers automatic file management, process adherence, tools integration and management, and seamless integration with production and report tracking.
Subramanya identifies “three specific problems faced by the publishing community: market demand migration from print to digital, market competition from OERs and MOOCs, and piracy and the rental market.” While most publishers have made the transition to digital content, “there is more to it than simple conversion of existing products for digital distribution,” Subramanya says. “Our team, for instance, is developing specific solutions to help publishers to counter these problem areas. Our e-comic learning initiative is one such solution that provides edutainment through digital storytelling to deliver better learning and instructional value to existing content.” Smartphone-assisted instructor-led training (SAILT), he says, is another offering that enables the development of paperless classroom training materials for educators and facilitators.
The development of a platform-agnostic content delivery solution for maximizing the advantages offered by different platforms without relying on platform-specific tools and functionalities and the provision of security for digital content without affecting user experience while accessing that content are two major initiatives taking place at Integra right now.
Take a look at Integra’s digital solutions.
Lapiz Digital Services
Automation, says CEO Indira Rajan, is crucial for survival. “Whether it is for in-house workflow or directly applied to publishers’ projects,” Rajan says, “we strive in every possible manner to deploy automation to reduce turnaround time and manual intervention.” The Lapiz team has been using customized automated QC tools to test all possible functionalities in personalized e-learning courses being developed for both internal and external clients.
VR projects for corporations in the areas of automobiles, industrial machineries, and banking are no longer as rare. “Since the technology is evolving rapidly,” Rajan says, “we have also started stepping into MR to combine the best of both virtual and augmented reality and to anchor virtual objects to the real world. The medical and educational sectors are our starting point for MR services, and our goal is to provide better training and education to students and health-care professionals globally.”
Analytics service is also expanding at Lapiz. “We have partnered with one American company to provide analytics service to clients from the manufacturing and e-commerce industry verticals,” president V. Bharathram says. “We address specific customer pain points using data; for instance, we use Tableau software for performance data visualization, or Python libraries such as PixieDust and Matplotlib for customer-based data visualization. Our team has also developed proprietary software that leverages Python machine learning libraries such as scikit-learn and TensorFlow to identify anomalies in data entry, inventory management, root-cause analysis, and categorization of customer emails based on attributes. At the same time, our U.S. team is capable of managing the entire data stack and other related services, including sales forecasting.”
More publishers have become technology companies, Bharathram says, “and now that the digital transition has started in earnest, every digital solutions provider needs to keep abreast with current technologies. Finding the right resources is tough, as everyone is racing to get the best talent—and for this, we are competing not just with our industry counterparts but also with core technology or software companies. The use of AI and robotics in publishing is set to pick up, and this is going to be a game changer for early adopters.”
The next 12 months “will see more analytics and content services offered to authors,” Bharathram says. “The work on deploying automation-driven workflow for both traditional and digital service offerings is ongoing.”
Find out more about Lapiz services.
It was another year of double-digit growth and higher operational efficiencies for Lumina Datamatics. A new facility with a capacity of 1,000 people has also been added to the existing 700-seat Puducherry delivery center. Along the way, the company won the 2018 Great Indian Workplace Award in several categories, including best implementation of human resource practice. Lumina Datamatics also took the Best Employer Brand Award (in the HR Strategy in Line with Business category) at the 26th World HRD Congress, held in Mumbai in February.
In business, Lumina Datamatics has achieved significant traction with several key clients. “We have developed a strong partnership with Macmillan Learning,” says Vidur Bhogilal, vice chairman of Lumina Datamatics, “and recently launched a new HTML production workflow that produces its e-books and print titles simultaneously.”
Bhogilal also launched Lumina Datamatics’s new RightsPlatform Marketplace with John Wiley Sons. “The vast collection of Wiley’s publishing assets—images, figures, and graphs, for instance—on this platform will increase its discoverability while empowering users to search, identify, and clear permissions to reuse the most appropriate images for their needs,” Bhogilal says. “RightsPlatform Marketplace is a user-friendly e-commerce interface that enables seamless licensing transactions and the delivery of high-resolution files.”
Meanwhile, education publishers and educators are calling on the team for item and assessment analysis. “Through our Smart Test Technology, we can take user response data coming from disparate platforms and help clients know whether an assessment is accurately and fairly measuring knowledge,” Bhogilal says. “We are also linking that understanding with remediation content. In some cases, schools come to us to perform a preadmission exam to test students for job competencies. Our data helps schools understand students’ existing strengths and weaknesses, and funnel them into programs that will most efficiently remediate any shortfalls in competency.”
The priority for the coming year “is a focused approach toward higher levels of automation using AI and NLP so that these intelligent and efficient workflows will keep us ahead of the competition,” Bhogilal says. “We will continue to enhance offerings across digital learning services, strengthen our journal business, and leverage established platforms—CAPS, ExpertSource, and RightsPlatform, for instance—to start offering cloud-based solutions.”
Check out Readbox.
The definitive agreement, announced in April, to acquire Tata Interactive Systems (TIS) has firmly established MPS in the enterprise learning solutions market. “TIS has pioneered innovations in that space through high-end, custom e-learning delivery that includes web-based learning, simulations, serious games, custom apps, and micro-learning,” says CEO Rahul Arora. “The company has partnered with more than 70 Fortune 500 companies and is recognized as an industry leader with more than 100 global awards—including 46 Brandon Halls—for its expert capabilities and quality delivery.”
The TIS acquisition, which covers three subsidiaries (in India, Germany, and Switzerland), “provides MPS with a global sales and marketing engine that has a rich background in scaling business and will further unlock combined value,” Arora says. “MPS, with its strong track record in making publishing smarter through efficient workflows and rich platform solutions, aims to bring this expertise to the enterprise learning space through TIS.” (While the business is officially registered as MPS Interactive Systems Limited, it will continue to operate under the TIS brand.)
The allocation of $25 million toward growth capital means that there will be more acquisitions after TIS, the digital publishing platform Magplus, in 2016, and the subscription-order management platform THINK Subscription, in 2017.
Its platform business segment, which also covers the flagship cloud-based platforms DigiCore and MPSTrak, grew by 20% in the past year. “We are seeing clients switching from other third-party providers, homegrown systems, and archaic technologies,” Arora says. “Through Platform as a Service, or PaaS, we aspire to disrupt the platform market in publishing by solving inherently complex problems in a simple way through intuitive technology and to pass on the efficiencies to clients.” Nearly $3 million has been invested in platform technology, which covers enhancements, maintenance, and customization.
MPS is now focused on its Vision 2023, which revolves around business transformation through smarter publishing. “Our aim is to power the differentiation and competitiveness of our clients through smarter publishing,” Arora says. “We want to transform publishing by making it transparent, real-time, and focused on learning outcomes.”
MPS is also about values. “We are driven by the triple-e principles—excellence, efficiency, and empathy—that foster an environment for innovation, growth, and superior results,” Arora says. “Our 2,800-plus employees are united and driven by these values, which will move MPS onward.”
Learn more about MPS’s content creation and development services.
The latest offering from Newgen KnowledgeWorks is Pubkit, a highly intuitive and unified platform that facilitates the management of journal projects, content, and communication. “It can monitor folder or FTP locations for incoming files, pick them, and auto-trigger appropriate workflow,” says president Maran Elancheran. “Pubkit’s intelligent auto-scheduling capabilities maintain consistency across journals and reduce dependency on manual intervention.”
Pubkit’s all-in-one portal allows authors and editors to view schedules, access files, and check on rights and permissions, for instance, without needing to access any FTP server. “A built-in mail management system further eliminates the need to maintain and manage two systems—one for mail and the other for project status,” Elancheran says. “In fact, the emails are paired with, and clustered within, the project itself. A shared dashboard for editors and project managers makes the process even easier.” Pubkit can communicate with client systems through APIs or feeds, and it stores metadata and triggers alerts according to configured rules, Elancheran says. “Pubkit also offers collaborative issue compilation and analytics.”
The content revision, editing, typesetting, and XML output are powered by another Newgen solution, RedShift, which has been developed to meet the demand for speed and high quality. “RedShift has various input pathways and is capable of multiformat output,” Elancheran says. “At the same time, it seamlessly integrates with Word and LaTeX for editing and with InDesign for layout and composition.”
Manuscripts first pass through CEGenius, Newgen’s in-house copyediting tool that auto-structures and edits based on AI data collected over the years. Then, RedShift composes the chosen content using dynamic InDesign templates and allows editors to make changes directly and to generate updated PDFs on demand. RedShift is “smart, fast, and accurate,” Elancheran says. “It was rolled out earlier this year, and a few publishers have already started using it.”
Over the past five years, Newgen has reduced 70% of its production time and 30% of its production cost. “We have accelerated the overall publication speed by 50%, providing publishers with shorter time-to-market, which is one of the critical factors in the scientific community,” Elancheran says. “Now that we have built enormous capability around content and digital solutions for English-language publishing, we are leveraging that success into other languages—in Europe and Southeast Asia—and expanding into content solutions for manufacturing and financial sectors.”
Take a quick look at MyOwnBook portal.
Helping publishers with their XML migration (and thought process) is a major focus at OKS Group. “Many publishers are undergoing further consolidation,” says founder and CEO Vinit Khanna, “and one of their major challenges as a result of the integration is the multitude of platforms and workflows used by the different operating units.” Khanna says that one client has had to reevaluate its approach to XML migration as a result of such integration.
The main issue, Khanna finds, “is in consolidating the creation of print and digital content into a single platform from which both can be generated as required, or mixed to create new offerings. This issue is evident in the K–12 segment, where design and layout are integral to an imprint’s house style and reputation, and many of the interactivities in the print products cannot be translated easily into digital products using XML.”
For subjects such as mathematics, customized solutions are often required. “The creation of scripts to streamline the workflow and boost productivity becomes critical,” Khanna says. “For one project, our team developed a script to handle MathML to meet the client’s requirements, and these scripts were customized for different titles in the series.” Khanna’s team has continued to enhance its cloud-based workflow platform e2e, which is now live with a major academic publisher.
Meanwhile, OKS Group’s MarkSharks “flipped classroom” learning apps for math and science are progressing on many fronts. Content for grades 7 to 10 is now available, and an efficient B2C sales process is in place to grow MarkSharks’s subscriber base.
“In addition to the tablet-based content available to users and the additional content under development for other classes and age groups, MarkSharks will have some exciting new prototypes rolling out soon,” says Aditya Tripathi, CEO of OKS Education. “One prototype will involve connecting the MarkSharks app to a series of external hardware sensors that measure temperature, pressure, humidity, acidity, and so on, to allow students to not only learn virtually from the app but also verify what they learn by performing their own experiments and analyzing the results.”
Tripathi and his team are also developing an AI-based algorithm that will create a dynamic study calendar based on variables such as student performance, available time for study, and content complexity.
Learn more about OKS Group’s XML and conversion services.
PageMajik is all about bringing authors, editors, and designers together in one secure workflow-enabled CMS to streamline the entire prepress process while supporting seamless collaboration. “Automation, machine learning, and AI are incorporated to improve user experience and productivity,” CEO Ashok Giri says. “PageMajik users have reported up to a 40% increase in the time they now have available.”
Automatic structuring and granular tagging combined with XML-driven technology that generates ePub and XML anytime at the push of a button are major features of the CMS. “Next, it enables automated typesetting, where near-perfect pages are generated from the manuscript in just a matter of minutes,” Giri says. “Then there is the innovative proofing module that allows editors to directly edit on XHTML files and have these edits rapidly incorporated into the PDF format without disturbing the layout.”
PageMajik “is specifically designed around content creation and publishing,” Giri says. “It automatically creates a comprehensive folder structure for each product, allowing publishers and content creators to begin using the system right away.” Its versatility allows for categorizing data in multiple ways, making it easier to access, monitor, and obtain information relevant to the product type, be it a book, a journal, a loose-leaf, or a poster.
An automatic keyword extraction module for enhancing research discoverability is currently being tested, Giri says. “We are already seeing accuracies better than anything else out there, and this same technology will be used to build an automatic index generator to handle this tedious publishing activity.” Tests are also underway for a module offering built-in drag-and-drop element templates for schoolbook writers and designers.
“We are not content with offering just a CMS,” says Giri, whose goal is to build collaboration and communication tools within the CMS so that notes, messages, and comments are exchanged among team members rapidly. “We want to wean publishing from emails and messages outside the CMS environment. You should be able to drop in a query and indicate the exact portion of the text that it relates to or highlight and send a block of text to a coauthor to discuss—and with PageMajik, you will be able to do all that and more.”
Explore the future of publishing here.
TNQ’s U.K. sales team has been kept on its toes in recent months. “We have recently signed a partnership MOU with a German company to kick-start our foray into the German-speaking region,” says CEO Abhigyan Arun. “With our approach being technology-led and our German partner excited about new advancements in the field, this is an exciting time for us. The number of opportunities and RFPs we have addressed—in the U.K., Europe, and elsewhere—have been very positive. At the same time, we have revved up marketing and social media activities to support our communications and revenue-generation objectives.”
The company’s AI-driven production has certainly attracted a lot of attention. “The big shift in our approach came about when our lab setup was integrated with the production team, thereby significantly improving the training of our AI engine,” Arun says. “We are now partnering with experts from academia and from boutique AI/machine learning technology firms to further strengthen our vision for production technology. TNQ products are continuing to push boundaries. Page Central, for one, is challenging conventional typesetting, as well as leading the path to interactive content delivery of the future.”
Since its launch in 2014, Page Central has been used by about 400,000 authors and generated more than five million pages to produce 1,500 journals, books, and book series. “It has proven to be a stable and fast solution that renders high-quality HTML pages at half the cost and five times the benefit,” Arun says. The patent-protected, browser-based Page Central “is about transitioning from PDF- to HTML-based typesetting. It is also available as an independent SaaS integrated with Proof Central, our proofing platform for books and journals.”
To make the platform easier to use and more accessible, TNQ recently launched Page Central OnDemand, which further simplifies the pagination process to about five steps. “Upload JATS XML, choose a template from the many that are available, and instantaneously see your XML page transformed into a beautifully paginated HTML page,” Arun says. “Together with our HTML-authoring platform AuthorCafé and proofing engine Proof Central 3.0, Page Central marks our decisive push to take the entire publishing process into the online space to provide production efficiencies, shorter turnaround time, and cost savings for clients.” These products, Arun says, “are perfectly aligned with our vision of post-PDF and single-URL publishing.”
Find out more about AuthorCafe.
Westchester Publishing Services
The past year has seen a flurry of activity at employee-owned Westchester Publishing Services. “Our core offerings such as domestic composition and full-service editorial provided from our U.S. headquarters have continued to expand,” says chief revenue officer Tyler Carey. “And our India direct services, which are run from our Delhi and Chennai facilities, are seeing a lot of expansion in the trade, academic, scholarly, and heavily illustrated book segments.” Recently, Westchester established a U.K. operation to better service its clients in the region.
“Our new K–12 educational publishing division now offers not just typesetting and editorial services but also content development, design, and illustration,” Carey adds. He has opened an office in Dayton, Ohio, specifically to service the K–12 segment. “We have also partnered with FableVision and Learnosity, in digital development and assessment offerings, respectively, to grow our client base and service offerings.”
Westchester’s cloud-based client portal, which provides clients with more transparency at each step of their projects, has undergone further upgrades as well. More options for file management and version control have come about through its partnership with Dropbox. “Our impetus in launching the client portal,” Carey says, “was as much about upgrading our internal technology to better suit our business needs as it was about reimagining how our clients submit and interact with the projects they send to us for editorial and typesetting services.”
During the design process, Carey and his team saw that FTP as a means for engagement and transfer “is being eclipsed by competing file-transfer methods such as Box, Dropbox, and WeTransfer, and we evaluated the related benefits of using more current options for manipulating files.” He notes that the Dropbox partnership has provided a much more intuitive and comprehensive experience for clients looking to upload or download projects, see their files at any stage, compare prior versions, and review via a simple web interface.
Next year marks Westchester’s 50th anniversary, and exciting plans are afoot to celebrate the milestone. “Since becoming a U.S. employee-owned company in 2014,” Carey says, “our growth has accelerated with very little headwind, and we are looking forward to helping existing clients with the services they have come to know and expect from Westchester and to partnering with new clients to help them trim costs, condense schedules, and deliver quality publications to their readers.”
Check out its newly launched Client Portal.
This supplement is published with the support of the vendors covered in these articles.