Society of indexers keynote


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'Publshing Revolutions" keynote presentation to the Society of Indexers 2011 conference

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  • The entry cost is lower too - the number of publishers is increasing as is the number of self-publishers.\n
  • Prices are probably going to be pushed down. This suggests that the competition might be based on cost - those who have worked out how to cut their costs vs those who haven’t. Digital only books are happening. Pretty well impossible to get any figures for the difference in cost of publishing those but I think they’ll be lower.\n
  • After at least ten years of false starts we are here. Digital publishing has happened. The take off is faster than we had imagined.\n
  • it’s the same content but the presentation of that content has changed dramatically. My laptop has the new oxford american dictionary built in. Why would I pick up a heavy book.\nPrint encyclopaedias are dead (not really true but I had to check to see if Britannica was still available in print)\nOK, present company excepted\n
  • What do I mean by that? Well, it’s a way of identifying things about the content *in* the content.\nI’m not going to try and teach you XML now!\n
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  • James Lamb has already told me there’s a misconception in the model\n
  • It’s a neutral format that will allow you to produce many other formats from a single base. It may not do *all* the work for you but it will help a great deal. Simple content (monographs, adult fiction) can be rendered directly from XML to print. With some more user (InDesign operator for example) input XML can be flowed into your page layout tool for further manipulation with the grunt work being done for you.\n
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  • This has been refined over about 600 years! It worked really well for a long long time. It was only the arrival of digital *outputs* that created a drive to change this. Computers basically gave us electronic ways of doing the same thing we were already doing.\n
  • XML isn’t answer to anything much in itself. It’s important to be thinking in terms of general content. If you are working with XML, it can become easier to manipulate, store, license, chop up your content. But it’s the content that’s important. Content is not necessarily king - in the mobile market, easy content can win over brilliant content. However, have flexible content is going to help you become flexible. XML (done right) *is* flexible content.\n
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  • Saw a t-shirt a few years ago “My job went to India and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”\nContinuum - use NewGen who use TExtract\n\nOne publisher I work with has outsourced everything but insists that the outsourcer hire UK indexer and copyeditors\n
  • It’s a pity that search is not useful\n
  • Apple and Amazon have the market\nI think the Kindle format is not going to be long lived - remember the Palm Pilot in the late 90s. The Kindle file format comes from that and is precisely that good for presentation on a screen. The odds are that Amazon will switch to something like the EPUB format.\n
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  • The people who make the reading devices can do great things with indexes if motivated to. They’ll do it if they see a clear improvement (or competitive advantage) over the others. \n\nMuch of the digital world is being defined by the specialists - perhaps indexers could define the way that indexes are presented. All it takes is a good idea and some organisation.\n
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  • This has started now. In some sectors it’s complete\n
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  • Join OASIS - and any other standards body you can lay your hands on :)\nOASIS is responsible for the DocBook standard\nOne of the nice things about XML standards is that they’re promiscuous - we can mix them up and create new ones\n
  • Right now publishers (many of them) really don’t have any better answers than anyone else. It’s all changing. If you can tell your clients about a new approach, they may well want to listen\nThe PTC course has a good reputation\nYou’d be surprised by how many don’t understand\n
  • Society of indexers keynote

    1. 1. Publishing Revolutions Nic Gibson 2nd September 2011 (
    2. 2. What’s Happening? • Publishing is changing • Outsourcing • Digital Publishing • XML • A single retailer has gained huge power2
    3. 3. Digital markets are maturing • More books will become digital only • The price of printing may only be a small part but it’s a part • Traditional publishing will be competing against a different cost base3
    4. 4. Change happens • The business is changing • Publishing is paper centric • It needs to be content centric • The paper mindset needs to be replaced by a content mindset.4
    5. 5. The world has changed • When did you • last use an encyclopaedia? • pick up a dictionary? • These are digital activities now5
    6. 6. Publishers are using XML • Text + tags • It’s a mark-up language • Made up of elements, text and attributes • Each element contains other elements • Ideally we represent the meaning of the content not the format of it6
    7. 7. A little bit more… • XML files are basically text files with rules • The rules are • Content is marked up with elements • Elements contain other elements or text • An element is made up of an opening tag and a closing tag • Elements can contain attributes <para id="para001">This is a paragraph.</para>7
    8. 8. XML… <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <article xmlns="" xmlns:xlink="" version="5.0"> <info> <title>Publishing Revolutions</title> <abstract><para>Lets talk about all the changes in publishing going on right now.</para></abstract> </info> <section> <title>Whats Happening?</title> <itemizedlist> <listitem><para>Publishing is changing</para></listitem> <listitem> <itemizedlist> <listitem><para>Outsourcing</para></listitem> <listitem><para>Digital Publishing</para></listitem> <listitem><para>XML</para></listitem> </listitem> </itemizedlist> </listitem> </itemizedlist> </section> </article>8
    9. 9. Indexing the XML <para xml:id="the0000116">As a business strategy, the Internet giants’ formula is simple: The more personally relevant their information offerings are, the more ads they can sell, and the more likely you are to buy the products they’re offering. And the formula works. <indexterm><primary>Amazon</primary></indexterm> Amazon sells billions of dollars in merchandise by predicting what each customer is interested in and putting it in the front of the virtual store. Up to 60 percent of <indexterm><primary>Netflix</primary></indexterm>Netflix’s rentals come from the personalized guesses it can make about each customer’s movie preferences—and at this point, Netflix can predict how much you’ll like a given movie within about half a star. Personalization is a core strategy for the top five sites on the Internet— Yahoo, Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Microsoft Live—as well as countless others.</para>9
    10. 10. Standards • That last slide is a language called DocBook • A standard for (originally) technical publishing • We have • <indexterm> • <primary>, <secondary>, <tertiary> • <see>, <seealso> • The indexing mark-up was not created by indexers • why not? • Please get involved – the XML community needs you10
    11. 11. Why XML? • Agile content • XML is an enabler for multi-format publishing • EPUB • Kindle • Web • multiple print formats • custom book publishing11
    12. 12. Traditional workflows • Traditional publishing workflows do not include digital content well • Well-known • Developed over a long period • Efficient way to produce books12
    13. 13. Traditional workflows Manuscript Prepare for copyediting Copyediting Author queries Other formats? and corrections Prepare for typesetting Print ready Typesetting proofs Printing Proofs Indexing Proofreading13
    14. 14. Content driven publishing • XML is a valuable tool • It’s not an answer in itself • An XML first workflow doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere • It’s the neutral format for your content14
    15. 15. XML first workflows Manuscript Copyediting and Tagging HTML Conversion to Place into XML Repository XML Author queries and corrections EPUB Kindle Indexing Transformation Print Ready PDF Proofs eBook PDF Proofreading/ Copyediting …15
    16. 16. How does this affect indexers? • Publishers are outsourcing more and more • Indexers have almost always been freelance anyway • Publishers are now outsourcing the entire process • Mostly to India and China • Non-native speakers • That might affect indexers • Increasing automation • I don’t think automated indexing is a good idea but that doesn’t mean everyone does16
    17. 17. EBooks • Indexes in eBooks are a bit of a problem • Random House – “We don’t need indexes any more because we can search the text” • Many EBooks have an unlinked index with page numbers at the back • Some have links with page numbers • Some publishers take out the index completely17
    18. 18. EBooks • Right now, Amazon dominate the market with the Kindle • Everyone else supports the EPUB format • Apple have about 10% of the European market and Amazon have 85%. • The other retailers are basically irrelevant • The organisations controlling this market are not the publishers18
    19. 19. eBook Indexes19
    20. 20. Less bad?20
    21. 21. Better?21
    22. 22. Indexes and eBooks • There is no point in talking to publishers about the way indexes work in eBooks • Talk to Apple, Amazon, Sony, Barnes & Noble • Think of the amazing things you could do with an index on an eBook • intelligent search • new ways to present the index • view the index and display snippets of content22
    23. 23. What Now?23
    24. 24. This may affect you • As publishers move towards that XML first workflow, the old ways of indexing may not be appropriate • As publishers move to entirely digital workflows the index becomes a digital artefact • The concept of the page is going to become much less important • A true XML index has no presentation • Is it italic, bold, etc is no longer important to the publisher who needs to present it in five different ways24
    25. 25. The index is more important • The digital publishing world includes the Web • On the web, the primary way we can find things is through searches • A good index is a fantastic search corpus • search the index not the book • Semantic searches have been promised next year for twenty years • you are good at this and computers aren’t • Convergence is happening in search – taxonomies and indexes are both used25
    26. 26. What can the Society do? • Talk to the industry • Not necessarily publishers • Join the International Digital Publishers Forum • Talk to your software suppliers about indexing XML directly • Join the Organisation for the Advancement of Standards in Information Systems • Have a corporate policy on XML – create some XML indexing standards yourselves! • Create relationships with bibliographic communities because they are already thinking hard about these things26
    27. 27. What can individuals do? • Learn some XML • It’s not hard • Go on a course? • Improve your digital skills • The industry is changing and being aware of the new environment can only help you • Push back on clients – make sure they understand what an index is27