The overall majority of books are currently being made with primarily a printed outcome in mind. To make a digital version of these books, most manuscripts need to be re-processed, which usually results in customary built e-books. This need for a customized authoring workflow for every electronic version of a book makes it impossible to build e-books in a cost-effective way. In this paper, we propose a novel workflow that incorporates both print and digital book authoring.
By charting the currently most widespread workflow Flemish publishers use to author print books and e-books, we are able to identify the most pressing problems. These are the print-first approach, the vendor lock-in situation of the e-reader market, and the high cost of updating and/or maintaining the content of an (e-)book. To overcome the aforementioned problems, we devise a new workflow that follows a digital-first approach using Open Web standards, separating content, structure, and layout. We evaluate the proposed workflow by building a proof-of-concept authoring environment.
Using this new workflow, both digital and print books can be built without significant additional costs. The proof of concept is evaluated using an experts group of Flemish publishers, and received general positive reception, with concerns on how to incorporate the proposed workflow into production environments. By not limiting the proof of concept to a fixed data model, it could handle content from more content providers, facilitating further research into the possibilities and future requirements of the EPUB 3 specification.
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