Buyer's Guide: Ebook Conversion Strategies Buoyed by Vendor Partnerships
What's different now?
Publishers are realizing that they need their vendors to be true partners. They need to collaborate. They need to figure out what parts of the process make sense to have the vendor do, and which parts they should take responsibility for. And they need to listen to the vendor!
Most of the leading vendors still have more expertise than most of the publishers, although this is changing fast as publishers realize that they need in-house staff that may not do all the work but must understand all the work. The publisher needs to take responsibility for the specs. Even when the publisher relies on the vendor to develop the specs, or advise on their development, ultimately the publisher owns the specs. If the publisher just lets the vendor do whatever they do when not given real specs—and especially if they split the work among several vendors, as many do as a matter of policy—they're going to wind up with sausage.
The publisher also needs to take responsibility for quality. Yes, the vendor needs to meet the quality requirements, but the publisher needs a way to know whether they have or not.
And the publisher needs to take a fresh look at what parts of the process it may make sense to bring back in-house. A good vendor will help you think that through. Does that mean they'll lose business? A good vendor realizes that the more they help you, the more you're going to stick with them.
Here's another true-life story: The company I work for was digitizing a lot of content for a big client. Millions of pages, much of which had important images. The customer said they wanted low-res images of the pages for web rendering and OCR of the text. We asked them if they wanted high-res images too. They said no, they didn't have the budget for that. We said "but we have to scan all this at high res anyhow to get a decent result for the OCR."