Who can become a digital publisher?

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If the answer is yes – than welcome aboard and good luck!

Answers from Elena Ornig

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Before answering this question let’s take a look at the basic functionality and the main aspects of digital publishing.

There are similar aspects in both traditional and digital publishing – production, distribution, marketing and copyrights, however the methods of delivery for all these aspects in digital publishing are different because they are based on an electronic rather than a physical platform; therefore, operating in an e-commerce or digital economy sector, with its own particular rules and regulations, has its own specific approach.

Production of a digital book is easier, faster and cheaper. It is also quite flexible because an eBook can be downloaded, stored and read on a laptop, personal computer, mobile devices like tablets, e-book reader devices and even mobile phones. E-books require no printing expenditure for the publisher, no big stuff for day to day running a business, no capital loss from unsold books; plus rewarding feeling for saving the environment – no destroying of the trees for extra paper. Great isn’t it?

Options and directions

Which way to go?

Digital publisher has few options when it comes to choosing a format for publication – bravo!

However, this is a real dilemma for the digital publisher as he has to choose the right software that must be compatible with other different software and be fast and reliable in order to reach a bigger audience (simply potential customers); this problem has reduced all bravado and feeling of celebration. Too many different formats are not necessarily a good thing.

What is at stake here? The new basic functionality has become a continuous worry of the business operation.  The digital publisher now has to think about fast loading of content; the server’s ability to support the high volume of digital book content and readers’ experience of reading – is it smooth and enjoyable? This has becoming a big problem for digital publishers because there is no existing unifying, open and widely compatible electronic format – instead, they are all different.

Distribution of electronic books has its pluses and minuses, as well. Traditionally, the distributor will sign a contract with a publishing house and distribute printed books to retailers. Electronic books don’t have to be distributed that way but can be sold directly to customer online or through many shops online by submission. However, the same problem with format compatibility remains.

So, what can a digital publisher do? Firstly, without a unified electronic format, a publisher of eBooks can create/develop its own proprietary software which is not cheap and requires a long development time, not to mention extra capital spending. A ‘New’ electronic format can be downloaded to read on a specific reader’s device that can also be developed, produced and sold or offered as free to download for use by readers.

Secondly, the publisher can choose from existing software applications and distribute eBooks through existing channels where an eBook can reach a reader with a specific reading device.  Thirdly, a publisher can produce eBooks by using all existing applications and distribute it widely through many existing channels online. The matter here is not only time and money capacity, but adaptability to a different set of skills and outsourcing for a publisher in the e-commerce or digital economy sector.

Let’s look at the marketing because both traditionally printed and digitally produced books must be promoted in order to sell; and promotion is part of marketing.  A digital publisher can celebrate the ability of eBooks cheaper production, free delivery and global availability online which potentially means a sale. However, potential sale doesn’t mean actual sale, and for closing an eBook sale any publisher must rely on marketing – promotion, promotion and… promotion!

Therefore, back to basics – Product /Solution, Promotion/Information, Price /Value, Place/Access and let’s not forget about a demand, all of which are still the key to sales because eBooks global availability does not create the demand, rather more competition.  So, Traditional Marketing becomes Online Marketing and therefore a new set of skills covering Email Marketing, Social Media, Web Content and Web Analytics, HTML and Photoshop knowledge is required as a minimum.

What is the best price?

Price compare to Value

Again, a publisher can hire employee/s for that role or contract (outsourcing) a specific Agency; and even then the publisher should not dismiss existing traditional channels for promotion, advertising and branding, but cleverly integrate both into a Marketing plan that means a multi-channel approach to the market and optimization of a mixed portfolio. A lot to think and to worry about, isn’t it?

On top of all of the above worries, a digital publisher has to sort out the Digital rights management (DRM) in order to control propriety technology or publishing copyrights of digital content/device to avoid copying of content or conversion of electronic formats.  The Publisher must also consider protection of right to copy, distribution and potential adaptation of original work before the time where that work/product enters the public domain (copyright expiration).  More worries?

Yes, because generally, DRM protects the original content of an eBook, including art/images work, layout and so on. Acquisition of DRM for a publisher creates the next dilemma because it increases the cost of production and has the harmful potential of DRM on computers or devices, thereby limiting usability of an eBook for a customer/reader because often an eBook with DRM is unreadable on competing reader devices.  Does every publisher need DRM? NO!  Print piracy is discouraged by the low prices of eBooks and therefore DRM is not necessary.

The next big issue for any publisher is the real copyright holder of any book content – the author.  The author holds the right to content and is protected by Law.  When the publisher, by contract, gains permission from the author to publish (copy) and sell desirable content and only then, for a specifically identified time, the publisher becomes a copyright holder.

Copyright gives the owner (author) exclusive rights to reproduce, adapt, publicly distribute, perform and display their work. The biggest dilemma here is that many countries have different copyright Laws and so far there is no global copyright Law in place – so, go and figure out how to protect your original work in the global market. It seems impossible, but it works generally because only a few step ‘over the line’, and according to some Internet experts it’s only around 2%; and being realistic, 2% is not such a big loss.

Digital Publisher

If the answer is “YES!”

So, who can become a digital publisher if they still want to take on the challenge after reading this general outline of the basic functionality and the main aspects in digital publishing?

The answer is anyone, – anyone who is not afraid of taking on “the big boys” by spending time, investing and become knowledgeable in digital technology.  It is not easy but it is exciting, exciting because if you are creative, imaginative, innovative and business-clever – you are more than likely to succeed. Ask yourself – can you think and operate globally? Can you identify a new market? Can you create your own distribution channels for direct selling in order to avoid conflict with the establishment of “the big boys”? Can you work out a competitive price strategy in the direct-to-consumer market and can you build and maintain a long-term relationship with you customers? If the answer is yes – than welcome aboard and good luck!

My warmest regards,
Visit Elena’s profile on Pinterest.


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Written by Elena Ornig

Managing Director of Publishing Company "Julia Sophistique Pty Ltd". Committee member of Australian Computer Association GC Chapter. Member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Member of the Chamber of Commerce & Industry Queensland. Member of the IT Forum Gold Coast. Sponsor of the Helensvale Writers' Group, Gold Coast. Committee member of the Gold Coast Writers Association Honored VIP Member of STANFORD WHO'S WHO in America. Publisher, writer and blogger.

Website: http://www.elenaornig.com/