Digital Catalogs: Tomorrow’s New Trend?
Book publishers have used catalogs to sell their titles for many years. However, in this digital age, the advent of digital catalogs would seem to be a foregone conclusion, especially as many magazines launch digital counterparts. These digital editions—more than Web sites featuring content—actually mimic the print publications, some even creating a visual page-turning experience.
According to those in the digital catalog business, there may be as many as a dozen vendors offering book publishers the ability to recreate the look-and-feel of their print catalogs in digital form. Still, the concept has yet to become a sweeping trend. In fact, some solutions providers don’t target book publishers, and some have no book publishers as clients as of yet. But with a number of solutions now available, and some obvious benefits to book publishers and their customers, will that soon change?
Book Business spoke to several online catalog providers and their customers to find out how much of an impact digital catalogs are having in the marketplace.
The digital catalog market is “a fairly new market,” says Cimarron Buser, vice president of marketing for Texterity of Southborough, Mass., a provider of systems and services for electronic publishing.
Buser says digital catalogs—the ones that are essentially mirror images of their print catalogs—can save a publisher time and money compared to creating the print version of the catalog first and then creating a separate catalog online. “Our customers have thousands of items. Therefore, it is not feasible for them to simply post their catalog on the Web. It requires organization and database entry. It’s an investment in time and people,” says Buser.
Texterity offers a technology it calls Published Web Format, which takes a print-ready PDF file and converts it to a Web-accessible version, Buser says. Most book publishers want a higher-quality end product, he says, that can’t be achieved using an advanced software layout program and doing a “save as” for a Web page. Also, the Published Web Format does not require plug-ins or downloads.