As You Like It
Commercial Communications Inc. (CCI), in Hartland, Wis., also offers custom book publishing programs for several clients including Houghton Mifflin.
“The main tool that we have is called Publication Zone,” says Chad Hegwood, vice president of technology at CCI. “It is the core piece of everything that we offer, and it keeps track of their customers’ orders. That’s what [our customers] want to know. How much are their customers ordering [and] when are they ordering it? [Publication Zone] is the repository for all that information.”
Hegwood says the original custom-book program it offered its clients was PDF-based, where a publisher’s customer came onto a Web site, and picked several chapters from different books and previewed the content online. For example, a math professor would consider their course plan and choose course material from different texts containing that specific information, Hegwood says. “If it’s history, [a professor may ask], ‘Am I going to cover the history of Russia?’ If not they can leave that out of their book.”
Hegwood says XML applications is where custom publishing is going. “The XML side is very similar to PDFs, but we are using XML data [where] you can be a lot more flexible and build books at a much lower level.” He explains that professors will be able to customize their books with single pages or passages from a book.
“When it comes time to select or view your content, you’re going to be able to [do so] at a much more granular level. [Publishers] won’t only be [able] to build books, but they’ll also produce the instructor solution manuals and student workbooks, and build those in association with the book.”
Not just anyone can access the site to order a book, though, Hegwood says. Professors have to be approved by the publisher to become users and are grouped into user types, based on the number of times they order books and the quantities they request.