Ken Brooks: 2010 Publishing Executive Hall of Fame Inductee
That passion for technology and change is reflected in Brooks' accomplishments throughout his career, including at his very first publishing job at Bantam Doubleday Dell, where he helped transform the production department by bringing in PCs for the first time. "They were all working on terminals," Brooks says. "[Introducing PCs to the department] was really a transition into a modern production department."
Later, in 1999, Brooks joined B&N and served as the company's vice president, digital content division, and president of EP Ventures Inc., a Philippines-based text conversion and composition company that Brooks set up for B&N. There, he also redesigned B&N's internal title database (with more than 1 million titles), set up a print-on-demand operation in its distribution center (which later was sold to Lightning Source), and did the prep work for B&N's e-book launch with Microsoft. Of that string of ground-breaking achievements, Brooks highlights establishing EP Ventures as a "big accomplishment" in his career.
"I didn't go into it figuring that I would set up B&N's operation there [in the Philippines]. I was just getting outrageous prices from all the vendors that were going to do the conversion for us," he says. "I really did it to create price competition, which did happen." However, he explains, B&N did not have the volume to support its own conversion and composition company and later sold EP Ventures to a French printing company.
Brooks' experience with EP Ventures led him to leave B&N in 2000 to found his own digital content services company, Publishing Dimensions. There, "I really pushed data conversion much farther into different formats of e-books. Also, that's where I first got into XML workflows for creating pages for print as well as e-books," he says.
However, after five years, "I saw that data conversion was getting to be a business where you had to have a fairly substantial footprint in India or China … and that just wasn't happening," Brooks says. "I had my experience in the Philippines, and it's a really difficult business." When Cengage (then Thomson Learning) came along with a "great opportunity," Brooks sold his company and joined the educational publisher.