Improving Ebook Data Quality: A Frank Assessment & The Path Forward
Joshua continues: “I have been impressed by some movement in the past year or so on this front. Production managers at some publishing houses are becoming more knowledgeable about the need for quality code, and are starting to implement standards for their EPUB files. Some are moving to EPUB 3 with the goal of re-thinking their processes and taking their quality to the next level.”
A Recipe for Success
Publishing organizations can improve the quality of the EPUBs they produce by addressing the following issues in the following sequence:
- People: EPUB quality rests on the quality of the publishing team. Starting with training is a great idea, as Joshua described. Joshua’s own eBook Ninjas course is a good place to start. The IDPF can provide additional options for ramping up the EPUB chops of the publishing teams.
- Standards Definition: Publishers must define and document their own EPUB standards to include the detailed specifications for CSS, subject tagging, and structural tagging. These standards can be used as acceptance criteria for external EPUB service providers. All EPUBs produced must conform to these standards.
- Defined Workflow: A well-defined, documented production workflow assists the creation of high-quality EPUBs.
- Automation Platforms: An organization that has an EPUB-savvy team and well defined and documented EPUBs and workflow may be in a position to use an automated approach to create many of their EPUB titles directly from source manuscripts. Those organizations that embark on automation initiatives without first putting in place a team, standards, and workflow will find themselves on a more lengthy and painful course. A caveat: as Joshua points out there are limits to this approach and it may not be suitable for all titles.
For many publishing organizations, there is much to do in order to raise the bar on EPUB quality. But there is a bright side: the path forward is clear, far clearer than it was even a few years ago.