Demystifying the King:Making Content Available to AllThis whitepaper was completed on April 1, 2013.Maximize the Value of Your Content
2 2010 iPad 2007 2011EPUB and Kindle EPUB 3It would be stating the obvious to say that publishing has changed over the lastdecade or so. What we knew as publishing in the 20th century hardly resemblesthe 21st century version. We can mark change in terms of technological innovations —2007: EPUB and Kindle; 2010: iPad; 2011: EPUB 3. Each of these new technologies enabledus to think in a fresh way about how we publish, and how we reach our readers.Then we spoke of books and magazines. Today we use one word: Content.Content is king, they say. Content is the substance we produce, but it has freed itself from the shackles of its priorcontainers. Sara Domville, President at F+W Media, Inc., speaks of a “content explosion model,” content that has broken freeof constraints and can be used in multiple ways.Content is acquired by F+W, as with most publishers, by an editor. Editors, says Domville, bring passion to their work; theywill “make it the best it can be.” After that, she continues, “we put it in the buckets.” These buckets, at F+W and elsewhere,are any number of formats and platforms by which content can be disseminated. It is up to the publisher to determine thebest mode or modes of distribution to reach readers and users.And the editors? Domville says: “Once editors get over the fact that they’re not just book editors, that they’re contentcreators, they like it. It’s rewarding.”
Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All 3Content is king, and we publishers are content creators. But without a meansto efficiently reach the end user, our content will not thrive. We need effectiveways to translate our content into the appropriate formats, indeed to determinewhat these formats are and to understand which formats best suit our content.This paper will explore the many options available to distribute content, anddiscuss some of the issues and “pain points” of publishers as they rethink theircontent distribution models. The goal of this paper is to shed light on bestpractices for moving content successfully along distribution channels. Make wayfor the king!A Brief History of Content DistributionMost conversations about content distribution begin with Gutenberg. WhenJohannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press in 1450, he enabled contentdistribution. His invention made it possible for books to be printed in quantity andto reach great numbers of readers. Thoughts and ideas spread like never before!Like the proverbial ripple in the stream, the ramifications have been felt ever since,and none would dispute the benefits thereof.According to one source, by 1500, 20 million books had been printed in Europe,a phenomenal number in just 50 short years. Multiply that by five centuries andseven continents, and we have a multi-lingual abundance of content weavingits way from producer to reader. But as we move along the long continuum frommoveable type to e-ink, the question becomes, What is the most efficient wayto bring content to market?There is also another important question: Why produce all this content in thefirst place? Those of us in the publishing business believe that ideas presented inprint can make a significant impact on the world. The printed word can educateand inform, change minds, and improve lives. However, all of these noble idealsnotwithstanding, publishing is, as we all know, a business. Our goal? One simpleword: monetization. On second thought, perhaps it is not such a simple word.Publishers distribute content with the goal of monetizing that content.These days the publishing conversation swirls around the question of how thisis best achieved. In what form is content best for the market? In what formwill it sell successfully?Johannes Gutenberg enabled content distributionwhen he invented the first printing press in 1450.
4 Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to AllContent is king, and we publishers are content creators. But without a means toefficiently reach the end user, our content will not thrive. We need effective waysto translate our content into the appropriate formats, indeed to determine what theseformats are and to understand which formats best suit our content. Options for Content Distribution There are many options available when it comes to choosing a means of content distribution. A new survey of 340-plus senior-level publishing executives conducted by Book Business magazine on behalf of SPi Global indicates that the question of how to distribute content is front and center in making strategic business decisions. Indeed, few are committing to one method of distribution: 89.9% are distributing online through a website, 67.7% of respondents are distributing their content physically through warehouses, and 31.3% are distributing through apps. Physical Distribution Through Warehouses Baker & Taylor, founded in 1828, is the world’s largest distributor of physical books. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, the company has five “Service Centers,” i.e., warehouses, with the eastern-most one located in Bridgewater, New Jersey, and a western outpost in Reno, Nevada. When a bookstore or retailer orders from Baker & Taylor, the company will ship from the warehouse closest to the customer, and the customer hopes that the stock he needs is located in a warehouse nearby, for speed of shipping. It is in part due to their strategically located warehouses that Baker & Taylor has the market position they enjoy in the distribution area. When Barnes & Noble began its superstore expansion in the ‘90s, they were heavily dependent on Baker & Taylor to supply books. It did not take long, however, for the company to realize the strategic importance of a well-placed warehouse, and Barnes & Noble began opening its own warehouses and decreasing its reliance on Baker & Taylor. There are many book distribution companies currently in business, from small to large, as well as numerous publishing houses, also in a variety of sizes, which undertake their own distribution. Perseus Book Group, a mid-size publisher, is an example of a company that built its own distribution company called Perseus Distribution (which also includes Constellation, a provider of digital distribution.) Physical distribution of a printed book through a network of warehouses and retail outlets, employing a variety of shipment methods, is obviously a complex logistical undertaking. But it is a necessary one to get the book into the reader’s hands. These distribution methods, a few of which were described above, are essential for the book that exists as a physical object. In a seamless version of this distribution, a book is ordered, shipped, and delivered to its destination in smooth order.The brick-and-mortar bookstore emerged as The reality, however, is much more complicated: unavailable stock, late shipments,the #1 sales channel for publishers in 2011 andbookstore continues to show robust growth and of course the complicated system of returns and remaindering, controversialin 2013. approaches endemic to the publishing industry.
Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All 5How do you distribute content?*89.9%Online Distribution Through a Website66.7%Physical Distribution Through Warehouses31.3%Distribution Through Apps14.6%Others* According to a new survey of 340-plus senior-level publishing executives conducted by Book Business magazine on behalf of SPi Global indicates that the question of how to distribute content is front and center in making strategic business decisions.Challenges aside, print sales continue apace. The BookStats Annual Surveyexamines US publishers’ annual net sales revenues and net units, and isco-produced by the Association of American Publishers and the Book IndustryStudy Group. The 2012 edition reports: “Despite the Borders bankruptcy resultingin the closure of more than 500 stores in 2011, brick-and-mortar retail again rankedas the #1 sales channel for publishers in 2011: net revenue was $8.59 billion,representing 31.5% of total net dollar sales.” The brick-and-mortar bookstorecontinues to show robust growth in 2013, with numerous independent storesreporting an uptick in sales and unexpected revitalization, in part attributableto community support and their historic skill at the art of handselling.Online Distribution Through a WebsiteOnline retailing is bridging the gap between physical and electronic distribution;online sales include both physical and electronic publications. The clear categorykiller in this distribution method is Amazon. Founded in 1995, the company hasgrown to become the dominant source of online book sales. As it grows,Amazon continues to both meet and disappoint Wall Street expectations; Online retailing is bridging the gapat the end of the 4th quarter of 2012, it reported a 22% increase in sales alongside between physical and electronic distribution; online sales include both physical anda 45% decline in profit. electronic publications.
6 Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All Nonetheless, this powerful retailer is hardly lacking in competition. From publishers’ own websites to a number of other aggregated sales sites, the online marketplace is lively and competitive, and in the dedicated ebook marketplace, numerous sellers exist. In the mixed print and digital online marketplace, brick-and-mortar retailers are also having a go at online sales. Barnes & Noble has an active and extensive Internet presence, which includes many of the same features available on Amazon (reviews, comments, author videos, searchability). A number of independent booksellers have strong online brand awareness, and the American Booksellers Association has been active in supporting indies in launching an online retail presence. Clearly online distribution through a website comes with benefits and disadvantages. The online retail environment offers 24/7 access along with the ability to provide a huge breadth of merchandise, more than can be accommodated by a brick-and-mortar sales outlet. Online retailers can take advantage of algorithms to study and make use of customer preferences, and they can also offer an interactive environment that supports reader reviews, comments, and other feedback. And yet the online purveyor of print is subject to the same limitations as any brick-and-mortar seller: availability and accessibility of stock, shipping challenges, and maintenance of merchandise in salable condition. Distribution Across Apps Oh how we consumers love our apps! We download them on our smartphones and on our tablets, we use them to entertain and inform us, we seek useful free apps and pay for those we deem worthwhile. Although at 31.3%, this distribution method is the least favored by publishers surveyed. It stands to reason nonetheless that apps would play an important and growing role in content distribution. Apps used for distributing book content are available free across devices and platforms. Kindle, Kobo and Nook apps are all available in Android and iOS versions, to name just a few. The key appeal of the apps is closely connected to the prevalence of devices, primarily our practically omnipresent tablets and smartphones. As John Wheeler, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Emerging Technologies of SPi Global, says: “The pull on this has been the explosion of mobile devices that have made it easy for people to receive content pretty much anywhere they are.” The beauty of the app is its ability to push out new information to the user as it becomes available. Another strength of apps is that they live on the device, making them easy to access frequently. An app that proves itself easy-to-use and provides a steady stream of useful, up-to-date information is sure to be a frequent go-to place for the device owner. The key appeal of the apps is closely connected to the prevalence of devices, primarily tablets and smartphones. It’s beauty lies in its ability to push out new information to the user as it becomes available.
Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All 7FormatsMoving on from the question of outlets, publishers must address the key issue ofwhich of the numerous available formats that support content distribution theywill select. In our survey, we find publishers choosing multiple methods. Of the253 respondents, replies are split among four key methods, with some overlap.By far the most popular method remains print. After all, with a lead of more than500 years on other formats, it isn’t that much of a surprise that many of us stillrely on the tried and true, and not without good reason. Amid cries from industrypundits that “print is dead,” the numbers support a goodly amount of printreaders remaining in the marketplace. And expertise developed over the yearsenables publishers to continue laying out, typesetting, designing, and printingcontent for the static, fixed, ever-reliable paper page.As co-founder and staff writer of Salon.com Laura Miller recently wrote on thesite: “If print could talk, it would surely be telling the world, Mark Twain-style, thatreports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.” A recent report from the PewResearch Center indicated that the number of Americans over age 16 who read atleast one print book in the prior 12 months declined from 72% to 67%, still a veryhealthy number.Digital distribution shows significant publisher commitment and investment aswell. SPi Global’s John Wheeler explains: “Our customers have always made somelevel of content available digitally even as much 10 years ago.”According to our survey, 73% of respondents are distributing content by PDF.PDF is a standard format easily accessed and utilized on a range of computersand other readers, and it maintains the integrity of the publication with itsfixed-format layout, being particularly useful for highly designed publicationsand those with charts, tables, and other illustrations.The publishing industry, creative endeavor that it is, encompasses a range of otherformats used in varying degrees, from audiobooks to braille, but by far the mostpopular alternative format is the ebook. 60.5% of those polled in our recent surveyindicate that they are using the Kindle format, and 63.7% of publishers polled areusing the EPUB format.EPUBUnlike print and PDF, EPUB provides for reflowable text. While the formatdoes support fix-layout content, its strength is its ability to adapt and itsinteroperability across platforms and devices (Publishers take note!). The EPUBstandard was developed by IDPF, the International Digital Publishing Forum, PRINT CONTINUES TO BE THE MOST POPULAR FORMAT FOR CONTENT DISTRIBUTIONand the current version is EPUB 3.0. “HTML5 is the architect for EPUB 3 whichenables semantic structure, interactive media, accessibility, metadata, etc.” sayJohn Prabhu, Vice President, Solutions Architect, Content Solutions at SPi Global. If print could talk, it wouldAs described by IDPF: “EPUB is the distribution and interchange format standard surely be telling the world,for digital publications and documents based on Web Standards. EPUB defines Mark Twain-style, thata means of representing, packaging and encoding structured and semantically reports of its demise haveenhanced Web content — including XHTML, CSS, SVG, images, and otherresources — for distribution in a single-file format. EPUB allows publishers been greatly exaggerated.to produce and send a single digital publication file through distribution and Laura Milleroffers consumers interoperability between software/hardware for unencrypted Co-founder and staff writerreflowable digital books and other publications.” (idpf.org/epub) Salon.com
8 Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to AllEPUB 3, says Prabhu, is “not at maturity stage yet. There are few EPUB 3 readers(such as Readium, iBooks, VitalSource, Azardi, Bluefire, etc.) available now, howeverall the functionalities of EPUB 3 are not fully supported yet. Publishers want morereaders supporting EPUB 3 functionalities so more adoption and budget can beput into developing EPUB 3 files.”He continues: “SPi Global is assisting the publishers in converting the assets intoHTML5 to ensure it is compatible with various mobile platforms and devices.The industry is moving towards more interactivity and it is inevitable that thedistribution platform will factor in these evolutions.”KindleKindle’s original proprietary format, called “AZW,” is built on the MOBI, orMobipocket format. The Kindle Fire introduced a new (backwards-compatible)format called Kindle Format 8, or KF8. KF8 supports HTML5 and CSS3. Prabhu callsKF8 “an enhanced version of EPUB 3.”Kindle’s choice of a proprietary format ignited debates regarding the value of opensource publishing. At the current time, however, its market share remains solid,leaving ebook publishers in a situation where many will likely choose to publishinto both formats, as our survey results seem to indicate.In sum, the multitude of formats increases the complexity of the publishingchallenge. SPi Global’s Wheeler says: “It’s certainly a challenge for the publishingbase in that they have all of these formats. They have competing formats now asfar as the various types of electronic formats that are supported.”The positive side of this is the ability to reach readers on their own terms, andprovide the content in the mode preferred by the end user. Wheeler concurs: “Onthe provider side, that gives us an opportunity. For a number of our publisherswe’re producing the same thing multiple ways. They are looking for low friction intheir distribution, and to use the same type of workflows they’ve had in their past.We keep it simple but work on multiple platforms.”THE MULTITUDE OF FORMATS INCREASES THE COMPLEXITYOF THE PUBLISHING CHALLENGEIt’s certainly a challenge for the publishing basein that they have all of these formats. They havecompeting formats now as far as the various typesof electronic formats that are supported.John WheelerSenior Vice President for Strategy and Emerging TechnologiesSPi Global
Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All 9It is no wonder publishers struggle with developing a consistent strategy to negotiatetheir content distribution challenges and needs.Questions abound. How does one best monetize content? What will the consumer payfor, and in what form? How will the consumer discover the content, and how will theychoose to access and utilize it?PlatformsGetting the word out is the publishers’ most important task and is, after all, thecrux of the work of content distribution, the penultimate task to be achievedafter our content has been acquired, edited, proofread, designed, and formatted.While the number of platforms from which publishers can choose can feeloverwhelming, judicious selection can lead to a strong and remunerativeoutreach strategy. Publishers we survey are doing exactly this: a mixing andmatching array of approaches.With a strong 71.4%, Amazon is by far the most prevalent choice. Declining profitsaside, it is the go-to choice for consumers. Offering appealing price points andunparalleled breadth, in addition to extensive information about each title,including its “search inside this book” feature, author videos, and reader reviews,Amazon has crafted a supportive and enjoyable online retail environment.At 51.8%, our survey participants’ second choice is Barnes & Noble. The retailer,which originated as a bricks-and-mortar store, conducted a come-from-behindend-run to quickly build its online presence into an appealing retail environmentwhich in many ways matched the features offered by its competitor, Amazon.Running somewhat but not too far behind at 43.7%, iTunes captures significantpublisher support, and appeals to the strongly and vociferously loyal Apple user.Lest this triumvirate of high-profile book retailers distract our attention fromcontenders, let us note several other platforms for digital distribution selected bypublishers in our survey: Inkling and Ingram/Vital Source.As far as delivery platforms go, Inkling has a lofty goal. As founder and CEO MattMacInnis says in Book Business, “We’re trying to define the medium that replacesthe book.” Inkling, which launched in 2009 out of the founder’s living room (anapparent exception to the garage rule), builds interactive content for the iPad.Starting with the creation of interactive experiences for textbooks, Inkling is nowexpanding into other categories of illustrated consumer books. Recently it createdits own storefront for its books which makes use of Google Search. Called theInkling Content Discovery Platform, it makes pieces of content, which it calls cards,searchable and available free, hoping to lead the consumer deeper into the workand hence into a purchase.Ingram’s VitalSource is another e-textbook delivery platform. VitalSource hasnumerous programs increasing discoverability and accessibility, including an Download 200,000+ brand logos in vector format for free. http://www.logoeps.com/iOS-based app and a partnership with Blackboard integrating its content withinthe Blackboard LMS. For higher ed publishers, VitalSource offers the ability to sell,distribute, create, and enhance content; for institutions, it offers the ability to morefully integrate content into the curriculum. Top sources of online content
10 Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to AllChallenges and OpportunitiesWith a marketplace so fully in flux, technology that is continuously reinventingitself, and consumers drifting back and forth over the print/digital divide, it is nowonder publishers struggle with developing a consistent strategy to negotiatetheir content distribution challenges and needs. Questions abound. How doesone best monetize content? What will the consumer pay for, and in what form?How will the consumer discover the content, and how will they choose to accessand utilize it?And before publishers can even begin to consider the vital question of consumerneeds, they must first determine a smooth course through the challenging watersof content creation. How to update a print workflow for new digital needs? Is anentirely new workflow called for? Should one be print- or digital-first? Or perhaps asimultaneous print/digital approach is best? And which formats will best supporta publishing process that is agile and efficient and allows for speed-to-marketand widespread availability? And what of the myriad technological challenges,from trouble-shooting recalcitrant devices to solving storage problems in adata-heavy environment?The industry is evolving so much. Everyone is looking for various business modelsand mobile devices, be it Android or iOS. At SPi Global, we have a platform enablingclients to distribute their content seamlessly on mobile platforms, and reach out totheir customers and bring the revenue back to the client.John PrabhuVice President, Solutions ArchitectSPi GlobalMoving Forward: Wagging The Technology TailSPi Global’s John Wheeler sees it as his job to help his customers makestrategic decisions. Asked how he helps his customers address their biggest“pain points,” he says his company does it by “helping them understand allof the different and competing file formats and what’s best for them andappropriate to use.”Wheeler describes a situation he sees frequently: “The technology tailwagging the content dog. Customers need someone to help them reviewwhat their needs are as far as distributing the content, to review whattheir target markets might be, and to help them reach the widest variety oftarget devices.”As John Prabhu says, “The industry is evolving so much. Everyone is lookingfor various business models and mobile devices, be it Android or iOS. AtSPi Global, we have a platform enabling clients to distribute their contentseamlessly on mobile platforms, and reach out to their customers and bringthe revenue back to the client.”
Demystifying the King: Making Content Available to All 11SPi Global’s solution is a complete turnkey solution that allows publishers andcontent providers to manage, distribute, and monetize content in custom-brandedmobile applications. Each app is customized to the owner’s requirements andthen distributed globally via App Stores to mobile devices with development,submission, approval, and maintenance managed by SPi Global.SPi Global’s full-service approach includes integrating content that may besupplied in simple formats such as PDFs or enhanced with video, audio orinteractive HTML5 elements. SPi Global provides full analytics on downloads andweekly sales reports. Content can be free or sold through the app and all monetarytransactions are handled by SPi Global on behalf of the Publisher.Solutions Architect John Prabhu sums it up: “SPi Global is truly a strategic partnerby making sure the content is semantically and consistently structured, along withinteractive media if required, ensuring interoperability, maximizing the value ofthe content and making it accessible.” It can be just as simple as that. Now that’s asolution of which King Content approves!SPi Global’s full-service approach includes integrating content that may be suppliedin simple formats such as PDFs or enhanced with video, audio or interactive HTML5elements. SPi Global provides full analytics on downloads and weekly sales reports.Content can be free or sold through the app and all monetary transactions are handledby SPi Global on behalf of the Publisher.
About SPi GlobalSPi Global empowers leading publishers and content providers to maximizethe value of their content online and offline by infusing technology, know-how,and innovation into their businesses. SPi Global provides its clients with acompetitive advantage by creating unique strategies in redefining a businessmodel, enhancing an existing or developing a new service offering, and increasingoperational efficiencies by introducing a system or redefining workflows.With a complete suite of digital, publishing, content enrichment, marketing,and customer support services, we help companies adapt to the rapidlychanging demands and needs of their own customers through our uniqueand innovative solutions.For over 30 years, SPi Global has been helping leading publishers, not-for-profitorganizations, information providers, and Fortune 1000 companies to increasetheir revenues, reduce costs, improve time-to-market, and automate operations.With over 500 clients and 9,000 content specialists, no job is too large for us.For more information on how SPi Global can help you maximizeyour content online and offline, please contact:Jamie IsraelDirector of Marketing, Content SolutionsM 732 662 firstname.lastname@example.orgMaximize the Value of Your Content