Streamline Your Workflow—and Maximize Your Content—With XML: Hachette Book Group's Phil Madans on the benefits of using XML to move from a print-centric to a content-centric workflow.
Extra: What are the benefits of XML to trade book publishers?
Madans: XML allows you to apply any kind of formatting or design you want to your content. Whether that's streaming it into InDesign and creating a printed book or streaming it into .epub so [the content] can go onto an e-reader like the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader, or onto an iPhone, Web page or into a widget, or most importantly, so that you can tag up that XML in the beginning to make it easier for people to find your content online.
For most trade book publishers, the opportunity is really in the discovery online. … You can index your text and put it out there ... but what's the likelihood that [users are] going to find your book with all of those other books out there? But if you can enrich your content so you can have contextual tagging in there, then when your book is talking about a diamond, it's clear whether it's the Hope Diamond or Neil Diamond or a baseball diamond or whatever kind of diamond it is. ... If you can put that information in there, when people are doing searches, you have a much better chance of them finding your content, and once they find your content, then they can buy your content.
Extra: What's the best approach to converting to an XML workflow?
Madans: There's different ways [of doing it] and it's … hard to tell publishers what to do because it really depends on what [their] publishing program is. ... I think the whole point of this is that you can go to an XML workflow today, without that much of a problem, if you have the right partners.
It also really depends on your content and how you want to deal with it. That's another important lesson to take out of this: It really starts much earlier than in the production process. It starts in the whole editorial and creation process when you're deciding what you're going to do with this content. … When we're deciding whether we're going to buy the content or not we ask, "What is the market?" "How are we going to reach the market?" and "What else is out there?" But we're looking at it in terms of the print, and if we start looking at it in terms of all the other opportunities that we have in the online world, for search and discovery … then the question becomes, "How am I going to take advantage of having a book in XML?"