A Day in the Life
Frank Romano isn't shy. In fact, Rochester Institute of Technology's chairman of the School of Printing has never been hesitant about putting speeches where his beliefs are. And at BookTech's 2002 conference and expo, he was true to form.
During the show's keynote address, Romano argued the provocative case between Random House and RosettaBooks, first as a signal that digital content is becoming increasingly popular, and second, as a way to compare print with e-media.
"What's the difference between an e-book and an e-magazine?" Romano asked. "They're both packaged information delivered in some form to you. A Web site is just as much an e-book as anything else."
With an allegiance to print, Romano barked about the benefits of bolstering print with the power of "e," especially since book printing accounts for less than 10 percent of printed material in general. He equated the art of digital investments to that of dinosaurs and lemmings—sluggish publishers are in danger of becoming extinct, whereas others leap without looking. As a result, he advocated the importance of honing technology that will inevitably suit the needs of its modern users.
"Is it the death of text?" he asked. Hardly. In fact, according to Romano, "e-books will not replace printed books." Instead, he predicted that if used effectively, digitization of text can fuel the print market by using Web sites to successfully sell books via print-on-demand (POD)—paper and all.
ROI in the house
But what should a publisher do once it is in possession of digital content? John Jebens, solutions team manager for WAM!NET (www.wam!net.com), made the case for digital asset management. He explained that while outsourcing may work in many publishing environments, it's not a solution for everyone. Instead, Jebens explained that managing content in-house can save money, especially in the case of second and third editions of textbooks that require redesigns.