Feature: Inside the E-Book Production Process
Once the books are approved as being converted correctly, they are sent back to editorial, where they are reviewed on a computer for glitches or other concerns, and further adjustments are made. After a final approval from editorial, the book moves to sales.
The sales team does its own distribution of ePub files and metadata (via Oynx) to retailers, says Brian Brunsting, a designer and typesetter at Baker Publishing. "We have personnel in the sales department who have the skills that make that possible."
Some backlist titles require extra editorial intervention, such as stripping out images or quotes for which the company does not hold digital rights, before they can be converted, Brunsting says. Another challenge is languages that read right to left (such as Hebrew)—these books must be handled by third parties.
Several innovations have been introduced along the way to speed up the production process. Baker closely monitors software changes and updates coding accordingly. To ensure one ePub file will work on all platforms, Highman makes sure to test on the most challenging device—the "lowest common denominator …," he says, "and if it works there, it works everywhere else."
Highman has put together a checklist for editors, which he says helps speed the process and prevent misunderstandings or confusion. Communication, he says, is key: "For me to communicate why something they are requesting will not work takes a little extra time on my part on the front end of things … [but] understanding the problems behind that helps them to do their job more effectively."
Other front-end efficiencies are created by using template files for some books, and by thinking in terms of ePub as far back as the print-production stage. "One thing we try to do in our design department is talk about how we can style our print books in such a way that when we get them, I don't have to redo the work," Highman says. "That's very helpful that we're thinking about ePub from the word 'go.'"