Gene Therapy: Managing Workflow: How Top Publishers Keep Their Houses in Order
It was only 26 years ago that Leonard Shatzkin, the legendary, former Doubleday manufacturing director and industry consultant, wrote that the book industry’s use of computers to “measure the effect of forces amenable to management’s control … is close to zero” (“In Cold Type,” 1982, Houghton Mifflin). The last 25 years have seen the deficiencies discussed by Shatzkin dramatically addressed, and he would have to be impressed at the pervasive uses of the computer today.
In part one of this series (“From Book Proposal to Profit,” Book Business, February 2008), I described in some detail the integrated, computer-coordinated workflow-management systems perfected by two university presses, Stanford and Princeton. Here, I review some of the workflow-management features of two large publishing houses, Simon & Schuster and John Wiley and Sons; and two smaller houses, Regnery and RAND.
For production and operations professionals, S&S is a marvelous case study in the evolution of scalable workflow management. It is currently completing the transformation of production, manufacturing and marketing systems to an integrated, digitally based platform to drive data management, product workflow and content distribution.
“We’re right in the middle of a major digital transition—we’ve had a digital asset management system since 1999—but we are now working in conjunction with our digital group and our publishing units to build an internal database that would aggregate XML content files, rights information and book metadata,” says Tom Masciovecchio, director of publishing systems.
Eugene G. Schwartz is editor at large for ForeWord Reviews, an industry observer and an occasional columnist for Book Business magazine. In an earlier career, he was in the printing business and held production management positions at Random House, Prentice-Hall/Goodyear and CRM Books/Psychology Today. A former PMA (IBPA) board member, he has headed his own publishing consultancy, Consortium House. He is also Co-Founder of Worthy Shorts Inc., a development stage online private press and publication service for professionals as well as an online back office publication service for publishers and associations. He is on the Publishing Business Conference and Expo Advisory Board.