35+ Tips for Quality and Streamlined E-Book Production
"We also greatly appreciate vendors' ingenuity," she adds. "It's a real boon if they can come up with solutions or shortcuts we haven't thought of."
For Brooks, a deep understanding of technologies and market trends is key. "You've got to have somebody who knows where things are and where they are going, and you can kind of tell by the degree in which they participate in the standards bodies," he says. "If you have a conversation with them, and they stare at you blankly and talk about, say, 'Peanut Markup Language' or some [format] that's a bit out of date, then you know these aren't the right guys."
Cengage has multiple key vendors with whom the company has long-term contract relationships. All have the ability to anticipate and adapt to industry shifts. "What we want to think about is the architecture of what we are trying to create, who are the appropriate vendor partners to work with, and then slotting the volume in. So if … we have to introduce a new format—say EPUB 3—we work with [vendors] we've got in reasonably long-term contracts to make sure they can add EPUB 3 as one of the branches they are already doing for us."
"Our goal is to end up with the best possible electronic version of our print book, and we'd rather be slow to market with a quality product than fast with a mediocre one," Wilson says. "We proofread every single conversion. Whether this is done in-house or farmed out to our freelancers is decided on a case-by-case basis."
For Wilson, as with other publishers contacted for this article, the two main quality control issues are accuracy of the content itself and how well it renders on a device. Hackett Publishing, for its part, has built into its vendor contract a clause that all titles will work on an array of devices.