Gene Therapy: Managing Workflow: How Top Publishers Keep Their Houses in Order
Regnery is an active participant in the Sony Reader and Amazon Kindle e-book platforms. It has 30 to 40 titles in a POD program with Bertelsmann’s Berryville Graphics in Virginia.
In contrast, RAND maintains its own POD production unit at its Santa Monica office, where it operates a four-color Canon 7000 digital press for interiors and covers. It also uses the POD service maintained by the Edwards Brothers satellite operation in the National Book Network facility in Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. A small shipping operation for direct sales is handled at RAND.
According to Claudia L. McCowan, business manager of publications and creative services, “our best-selling title, ‘Countering the New Terrorism,’ has sold over 10,000 copies, and our average best-seller sells about 2,000 copies.”
Nonetheless, its workflow burden of 150 new list titles is demanding for accuracy and production quality. Print-ready PDF files are delivered to the company’s printers from an FTP site, mostly to fulfill on-demand orders. “We are advocates of the long-tail theory, and we do very few reprints for inventory. We are tied to a demand model and pour over lists weekly to anticipate demand printing needs,” McCowan says.
In this review of workflow management at diverse publishing houses, a few lessons stand out:
1. Maintaining data integrity (meta and content) should be built into the workflow process at every stage.
2. Regularly feeding title information in ONIX format to trading partners has great value, needs to be done expertly and can be outsourced if necessary.
3. A clear assignment of human responsibility and gate-keeping should be required to trigger the release of data internally and through external distribution channels.
4. Content workflow should be built around the goal of a digital platform format “ready to go” into the emerging multiple-media marketplace for book publishing.
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.