Managing a World of Content
by Rose Blessing
Ever sit around brainstorming about a new product idea? Before World Book embarks on the creation of a new product launch, these are some of the questions that development teams typically consider, Ross explains.
Concept and Content
What kinds of content do you plan to use? Photos, illustrations, text, graphs, charts?
How will you get it&emdash;assign it to on-staff writers or illustrators? Derive it from previous products? Gather from a third party?
Should a new technology be incorporated, like a hot new kind of image or animation? How much value will it really add?
What is the audience? Is it entertainment? How-to? Education? A blend?
Is the concept sustainable? How will it be maintained? When might it become obsolete?
If the concept is new: Is it filling a slot or breaking new ground? What would be competitors' barriers to entry in that market once it is broached by World Book?
No matter how great the content of a product, its commercial success also depends on product presentation, branding, titling and pricing being right, too.
Producing the Work
Books are not written; they are produced.The best thing a leader can do is put together good teams, because book teams are more like film crews than single authors.
In the Long Run
It is important for a publisher to build an asset base of talent, while maintaining a balance between outsourcing and in-house creation.
Bells and Whistles
The Deluxe edition of The World Book Encyclopedia contains a full arsenal of "bells and whistles" --a major investment the company makes to help ensure the product's commercial success.
Although some of these features are used over and over gain, new ones are added every year. Features that involve programming enhancements include
1. Every word instantly defined when the reader double-clicks on it.
2. A homework tool kit including facilities that help students prepare reports or make charts and time lines.
Other elements allow users to link to the Internet via the CD-ROM interface. (Users must already have Internet access and must provide their names and addresses to IBM; IBM agrees not to disclose their names to other sources).
Once connected, the user can
1. Connect to World Book's online archives.
2. Jump to other Web sites selected by World Book.
3. Receive automatic updates of World Book articles.
"Beyond-text" enhancements to the encyclopedia include
1. Hundreds of bubble views (pictures that allow exploration of an image or place as if the viewer is turning in a 360-degree circle). Examples include the Bulls Locker Room, Stone-henge, the Coliseum, various cathedrals and the San Diego Zoo.
2. Dozens of interactive simulations that allow the exploration of how things work, from pulleys and levers to interest rate calculations.
3. Dozens of videos of historical events, such as space walks or Nelson Mandela's release from prison.