Ebook Conversion: 10 Tips for Finding Your Ebook Conversion Vendor

Nicole Passage, Managing Editor, Open Road Integrated Media

Jean Kaplansky, Solutions Architect, Aptara

Ralph Coviello, Publisher Relations Manager, Bowker

Bill McCoy, Executive Director, International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF)

Brian Felsen, President, BookBaby

Andrea Fleck-Nisbet, Executive Director, Digital Publishing, Workman Publishing

John Prabhu, Vice President, Solutions Architect, SPi Global

Know thyself, don't be penny-wise but pound-foolish, ask the right questions, and other tips for this vial task

Now that Amazon has announced that it’s selling more books in digital form than in print, it’s only logical that even the smallest of independent publishing houses are racing to make their entire backlist available as ebooks. Book Business solicited a wide range of advice about the ebook conversion process from digital publishing pros. Here’s what they had to say:

Ralph Coviello
Publisher Relations Manager, Bowker

Kick The Tires: According to Bowker’s Ralph Coviello, one of the most important steps in any publisher’s journey to find the right conversion house “is to really drill down with the [vendor] in terms of how far they go with their services.” That includes distribution, but is perhaps even more important in terms of access to metadata. Make sure they can provide it to all of your print partners, and find out if it’ll be provided for sales reporting to bestseller lists. But whatever you do, he says, “don’t jump blindly into a relationship with a conversion house, regardless of what they promise you. Because they promise a lot of things.”

Jean Kaplansky
Solutions Architect, Aptara

Know Your Project Intimately: Don’t bother asking questions of potential vendors, Kaplansky recommends, until you’ve decided exactly what it is you want your own project to be capable of. What is the project’s ultimate business objective, for instance? What’s the budget? Who are the stakeholders? “Knowing where to start,” she adds, “is a matter of the organization fully understanding [its] own business objectives, at minimum.”

Stay Organized: If you’re planning on researching and interviewing multiple vendors, Kaplansky stresses that organization will be a key to your eventual success. She recommends creating a spreadsheet for categorizing vendors “by size, capacity, location and specialty services, such as enhanced EPUB creation, or mobile app development. “Ideally,” she says, “your spreadsheet will also contain criteria specific to your conversion project, enabling you to narrow the list of vendor candidates down to two or three who provide service offerings that most closely match your project requirements.”

Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.

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