Get Your Multimedia House in Order
He concedes this could mean a slight workload imbalance for digital output versus print. “If you look at textbook publishers who are trying to put a lot of core material out in electronic form along with a single print book, there can be substantially more work on the digital end. They have to consider more digital staff in such cases.”
However, Trippe says some electronic work is actually being done by authors who blog in anticipation of a book.
Willingham says Silverchair does not separate print and digital staffs either. “We have people who work on both … and our workflows support both outcomes for the content,” she says. “We put more emphasis on efficiency, quality and the best experience for the customer—whether book readers or Web users—than on print versus digital.”
The creation of author- and title-specific Web sites, however, has required some publishers to supplement their current staffs.
For example, there was a time when book production was Silverchair’s only business and, back then, no designers were on staff because the company’s publisher-customers handled design themselves. “Developing Web sites definitely required us to establish a full-blown art department that is headed by someone with both design and interface usability experience,” says Willingham.
She also explains that her company does not make workload-balancing decisions based on print versus digital, adding that some books can take longer to produce than Web sites.
For publishers looking to advance their digital offerings, hiring at least one or two executives who are fluent in
techno-speak is inevitable. But because nonprint media is still unfamiliar to many publishers, they could be in the dark on what to look for in new hires.
Willingham says it’s important to have a production staff that truly understands how to use XML to deploy content online, and to have project managers with a mastery of both detail and the big picture.