Transition game

Yesterday, I took part in a webinar based on “Best practices in digital exports”, a research report I wrote last year for Livres Canada Books.

The webinar extends a presentation initially given at the Association of Canadian Publishers’ annual general meeting. Yesterday’s session provided an audience of mostly Canadian publishers with an overview of current and emerging markets for digital books as well as a perspective on territorial rights.

The report (available as a PDF download for C$30 at Livres Canada Books) and webinar included a dozen recommendations that represent best practices for any publisher looking to sell digital content outside of a home market.  Among these recommendations:

  • Evaluate selling subscription and component content
  • Plan now for cost containment and agile content
  • Use piracy data to identify potential demand
  • Keep up with VAT legislation, especially in Europe
  • Read your own eBooks (you might be surprised)

In registering for the webinar, several participants identified the problems they face in creating and managing digital books.  One common lament: the metadata requirements inherent in supporting a digital product mix. A university press that relies on a digital asset distributor noted:

“Getting up-to-speed with full bibliographic data and book files and images and search PDFs (leaves us) short on staff during this intense period of transition and training.”

During the webinar, metadata, supplier management, use of DRM, pricing for certain types of books and the visibility needed to drive institutional sales were all raised as ongoing concerns. The impact of global and local distribution partners on digital sales and marketing efforts was also discussed.

We’re currently working on a successor report, “Territorial rights in the digital age”. It won’t answer all of these questions, but we’ll address as much as we can in the upcoming research. Livres Canada Books plans to publish that report this spring in both English- and French-language versions.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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