How HarperCollins Automated EPUB 3 Production with DITA4Publishers
I had the pleasure of hosting terrific webinar last week, featuring HarperCollins senior director of global digital operations Leslie Padgett and content solutions architect at RSI Content Solutions Eliot Kimber. They did a great job of articulating how HarperCollins has begun to transition from legacy print production to a system that is automated and truly multichannel. The webinar, "Facts, fantasy, and realities of automating EPUB 3 production at HarperCollins," dove into how HarperCollins moved its EPUB production in-house in order to make EPUB creation faster and more affordable, while enabling simultaneous print and digital production. A huge part of that transition was the implementation of the DITA4Publishers open source standard.
I thought I'd share a couple high-level takeaways from the webinar here, and I encourage you to watch the presentation in its entirety. It has been archived on our website and you can view it for free.
1. Using DITA4Publishers is one of the most affordable ways to take on in-house EPUB production. "DITA by the nature of its architecture makes the cost of using XML about as low as it is possible for it to be," explained Kimber. "It uses a single source to provide a variety of formats including PDF, EPUB, and HTML." DITA allows publishers to store their content modularly so that portions of content can be reused and repurposed. The standard also has the ability to do controlled extensions, added Kimber, which means publishers can adapt the architecture over time and avoid scrapping and then remaking their production system as new technologies emerge.
2. Before you start implementing XML, get up to date on EPUB 3. This was the first hurdle for HarperCollins, said Padgett. "Our big question was: Where should we focus? We decided to turn to the AAP's best practices for EPUB 3. That gave us a great guideline to start from." The next step, Padgett continued, was to dive into HarperCollins' content and pull out the features of the best practices supported the publisher's goals. For example, although the AAP recommends the MathML standard, HarperCollins doesn't use MathML within its content.
3. Going with a standard to implement EPUB 3 production eliminates a lot of the legwork. One of the reasons HarperCollins chose to work with DITA4Publishers is that it's an open source standard managed and updated by a community of XML experts. "It could take years to go through your own content and work out what kind of XML structure makes sense. DITA4publishers has already done that for us," said Padgett.
There are many more insights packed into the one-hour presentation that I can't do justice to in this blog. Check out the complete webinar here.
Ellen Harvey is a freelance writer and editor who covers the latest technologies and strategies reshaping the publishing landscape. She previously served as the Senior Editor at Publishing Executive and Book Business.