Living with Digital Book Publishing at the Speed of Light!

James Macfarlane

February 1, 2021




Written By
James Macfarlane

CEO of Easypress with over 25 years experience in the digital publishing industry. Pioneer in the digital publishing space and thought leader online.

In late 2020 Easypress partnered with Rebecca Souster, the COO of progressive publisher Lume Books, to showcase how digital publishing can be implemented to improve and automate the book publishing workflow, and deliver smart, low-cost publishing solutions in their publishing process.

The article, “Book Publishing at the Speed of Light!”, show-cased a digital publishing technology developed by Easypress to quickly prepare both print and digital books using a block of 43 fiction and non-fiction trade books through an automated book production workflow. The digital publishing paltform called Atomik ePublisher was developed to produce print ready PDFs' and digital EPUB files to a very high standard and quality with no manual typesetting, or programming.

Since publishing the case study, the article has received nearly 10,000 views and has been commented on dozens of times.

This article “Living with Book Publishing at the Speed of Light!” has been written to directly address the feedback and comments my original article received.

In responding, there are a number of direct questions I received about automating what has traditionally been seen as creative but manual workflow. Several commentators asked:

Will automating our current Book Publishing workflow by adopting a Digital Publishing workflow make our book production editorial teams redundant.

This is a genuine and sincere reaction from several concerned readers and I understand these concerns. Is digital publishing yet another whizzy technology driven innovation? Will the adoption of automated digital publishing technology threaten to make production skills redundant?

The software Easypress has developed in its Atomik platform has taken us more than a decade to develop. Our digital publishing platform has been created in partnership with small as well as large book publishers to enable them to cut down on wasteful and often mundane tasks. Tasks like manually styling author’s manuscripts in MS Word, or layout of a first-proof book; or manually removing widows and orphans during the typesetting process and ensuring that end-of-chapter line counts meet the layout rules for the flight of books moving through production.

Many of these mundane tasks are highly repetitive, so what Easypress focuses on is introducing technology that reduces and streamlines everyday tasks to reduce the pressure of work and lessen stress. Whilst, streamlining the production workflow to speed up the delivery of both print and digital content.

In short, my answer to those who maybe concerned about their future prospects as skilled editorial and production professionals, is that digital publishing automation will not threaten the future for production teams. If anything, Easypress' proposed automation will enable production teams to improve their productivity, whilst relieving them from the mundane tasks which make their daily tasks less creative.

A Publishing Industry View

The entire book publishing world is constantly under pressure for results. Publishing, like every industry, is a revenue and margin driven industry. Whether you are Jeff Bezos, Rupert Murdoch, or any of the major book publishing CEO’s, ultimately, they are motivated to increase their business revenues, whilst constantly improving their business margins.  

In discussion with Mike Levaggi, Global Procurement Director at HarperCollins, he considers that all book publishers face challenges and need to continue to innovate. He believes that as publishers the industry is facing the constant budget prospect of having to “do more, with fewer resources”!

Irrespective of whether you are HarperCollins, or Lume Books, ultimately, all publishers are faced with the same business challenge. Those that fail to heed that challenge face an inevitable outcome.

At Easypress, our development team will not implement a product change unless it makes life easier and less complicated for the editorial and production users over their existing practice. By embracing advances in technology, publishers can implement more efficient digital publishing workflows, and all publishers, big and small, have equal opportunity to increase their output and grow their business and as our Case Study showed at a significantly lower production cost.

Easypress is reporting “Fake News”!

From the original article I did receive several criticisms from some off-shore Publishing Services companies who didn’t believe that Easypress’ digital publishing technology could report a per page production cost just 16.7p in its Case Study.

The Case Study was based on 43 titles containing 11,568 pages (equivalent to a per book size of 270 pages) and the books in the case study did not require any proofreading or copy-editing. This figure, therefore, does not include the life-cycle costs for producing a book.

A key component of why the per-page costs were so low in this Case Study, is that the publisher undertook all revisions to text in-house, via the ability to carry out late stage editing of the text for updates and revisions in InDesign. This allowed the publisher full flexibility and design control over the final typeset PDF.

Easypress delivered all 43 titles over a period of 24 days. The number of actual days spent processing those 43 titles by Easypress was just 14 processing days, or equivalent processing by just one member of staff three books per day to print ready PDF and EPUB ready files.

These are remarkable production rates which normally take whole teams of production staff to achieve. In addition, Easypress established that there were zero production errors in the final PDF from the original MS Word manuscript. Our Digital Publishing process does not touch the content in any manner whatsoever.

Finally, at every stage in the process the Publisher was in complete control of the rate at which books were prepared and processed through production leading to Lume Books being completely satisfied with both the process and the final print-ready output.

The final price of 16.7p (USD $023, or, or €0.19) per page is an actual price per page paid by Lume Books on the basis that Easypress had issued a commercial contract to the publisher whereby Easypress was not providing its publishing services at a commercial loss.

Easypress’ Atomik digital publishing platform delivered an 83% reduction in production costs for core print typesetting services.

The Future Challenge for the Publishing Community

Some years ago, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to Margret Attwood and Jeffery Archer, who both described themselves as storytellers. Both these iconic authors commented on the observation that in their world they believed that everyone could be divided into those who told stories, and those who read stories.

I believe, the challenge for our publishing world is as the barriers to print and digital publishing costs reduce. Storytellers will be empowered to publish and tell their stories more readily. The future represents a massive opportunity for mainstream publishers to address the growing global demand for cost effective storytelling in both print and increasingly in digital formats.

Both Margret Attwood and Jeffery Archer made the point that they felt privileged to have made a successful living at storytelling, whilst acknowledging that the vast majority of authors tell their stories more from a burning personal desire, than for financial gain.

The future challenge Easypress believes in is the need for publishing to step up to tell many more author’s stories in the furvent belief that out there are many more Margret Atwood’s and Jeffery Archer’s who are yet to be discovered telling their stories.

Easypress believes that digital publishing will have a massive role to play in delivering tomorrow's storytellers.

About Easypress

Easypress we will continue developing creative and smarter, cheaper and automated publishing workflows, working with our Clients to incrementally improve their production processes.

Always remembering that their key business performance driver is for publishers to gain market share, whilst continually improving their Digital Publishing and production workflows to deliver improved business margins.

Easypress is keen to discuss how a smarter and cheaper publishing workflow will benefit your publishing business.


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