Get Your Multimedia House in Order
Bill Trippe, president of New Millennium Publishing—a Boston-based consulting firm specializing in electronic publishing—suggests taking a good look at your market. “Do opportunities exist to call for more digital offerings, and are you prepared to spend wisely toward them?” asks Trippe. “Looking back five years or so, some publishers put the cart before the horse, burning holes in their pockets for expansive digital publishing before the market was really clear.
“For instance, publishers that think they would benefit most from e-books need to know that a market exists, but it is not as big [as they might think] and there are plenty of third-parties who could easily handle production and hosting,” he says. “On the other hand, medical and legal publishers with enormous electronic potential absolutely need to make a commitment to a digital presence and they need to adjust staff to handle it,” he says.
Got a Tech-Savvy Staff?
As publishers delve further down into the rabbit hole, one major challenge that presents itself is staffing a traditionally print-driven company for multimedia projects. Sure, doing blogs and webcasts or creating title-specific Web sites for every book would be great; but what do you do when no one on staff knows how to produce them?
Companies edging their way toward full-blown multimedia-publishing terrain are faced with the decision of whether to train their current employees or hire new personnel already educated in certain aspects of digital media.
Elizabeth Willingham, executive vice president of Silverchair—a Charlottesville, Va.-based company offering print and online publishing services and products for medical content providers—says Silverchair does both.
“We’ve been able to train current staff because even when the only products we developed were print books, we started laying a foundation for a workflow that would allow us to deliver both print and digital products,” she says. “So, for example, our book compositors use a composition program that delivers XML. ... We also trained book project managers to be Web site/software development project managers, and our book indexers moved into the creation of semantic metadata,” says Willingham.