Special Advertising Supplement: Strategic Allies: Global Ebook Outsourcing: A Primer
That is, of course, the golden trope of outsourcing: Isolate the things you do best. Then, so that you can really focus on those things, partner with someone who can accomplish better, faster, cheaper or more easily the areas where you're not an expert.
"Publishers long ago gave up printing," says Wheeler, whose SPi provides a full range of publishing, e-publishing, technology, content enrichment, customer service and marketing support services. "[Publishers] were printers at first, but as printing became more specialized, it turned out that someone who was doing all the printing for everyone could do it better."
It's as potent an analogy as you'll find in a time when the delivery and very nature of content is changing before our eyes.
There is, of course, a wide range of services that can be undertaken by an outsource partner, from typesetting and composition to editorial services like copy editing to e-learning solutions to conversions to technology. You can outsource as little or as much as you want.
"We can do some heavy lifting," says Dev Ganesan, CEO of India-based Aptara, a global, full-service, end-to-end content services provider. "We can deliver 25 million pages of ebooks at extremely high quality. So the throughput is pretty high. We invest heavily in infrastructure so that we can do some huge scale with high quality."
Which is not to say that you must be a publishing giant to make good use of even the biggest of outsource partners.
"On the one hand, we provide solutions and services for the large customers, where we have entire dedicated teams for certain customers, like a Wiley or a Pearson," says Sriram Panchanathan, Head of Digital Solutions for Aptara. "On the other hand, we're also working with individual authors and smaller and medium-size publishers who have a backlist of 300 or 400 titles. We offer them the same set of services."