Extra! Q&A: Blackwell Publishing’s Alan Bacon ... on Blackwell’s New Journal Digitization Project
Extra!: What is the timeframe on the project?
Bacon: We sort of have a notion that we’re going to digitize something like 500 titles. We’re aiming ... for the end of 2007, but realistically it’s going to be mid-2008.
Extra!: What sort of challenges has Blackwell faced throughout this project?
Bacon: I think there’s always the issue of quality, obviously, when you’re scanning old material. You have to do quite a lot of work to make sure that the resulting scans adequately reflect the client’s expectations. They need to be legible, they need to be printable, but they need to be deliverable online as well, so there are sort of issues over size versus quality. I think we’ve come to a reasonable level of compromise on web-capable PDFs.
From our end, actually, the biggest challenge is finding the material. ... Sometimes we get lucky, and we find someone who’s got the lot and is prepared to give or lend them to us. ... It is quite a challenge.
I think the processes are quite understood. The generation of XML is well understood ... and we have some good quality assurance systems in place that help us to make sure that the end product is as good as we can make it.
Extra!: Are there any other exciting projects in the pipeline at Blackwell?
Bacon: We’re running any number of projects to try and improve process and workflow. This process of business re-engineering is ongoing. It’s part of the Blackwell culture. In terms of backfile digitization, I think once we’ve done the bulk of the stuff within this project, then it will be on an ad hoc basis from that point on.
It’s all about efficiency and increasing automation.