Smart Book Publishing: What is Digital Book Publishing?

James Macfarlane

June 29, 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.

“Digital book publishing for the book publishing industry is the ability to streamline authored content from concept to published book, regardless of whether it is for print, digital, or audio consumption.”

                               Ken Brooks – President of Treadwell Media Inc.

Digital Book Publishing

Sources (Google) put the global number of commercially available print and digital books at over 130m, with Amazon claiming a commercially available list of over 32m titles.

There were 675m print books sold in the US in 2018 and more than 75% of the books sold online were via Amazon.

Amazon reported that eBook sales represented 18% of 1.8bn books sold in the United States in 2019.

Since the early days of eBooks in 2008, sales have steadily risen. They now represent a significant proportion of total book revenues for nearly all publishers in the USA, regardless of the genre of books they produce.

Although the numbers and revenues derived from eBooks are smaller then print book sales, nearly every publisher has implemented their own eBook publishing process to service this growing market – whether that is by offshoring the production of eBooks, or by adopting the software-based production processes offered by the likes of Easypress.

If there ever was an example of a renaissance in book reading, the past 18 months was it. The global pandemic is proof that the desire to be told a story, whether in print, eBook, or audio format, has not gone away. In fact, quite the reverse has happened.

For the publishing sector, the markets in 2020 saw a significant growth in print and digital book sales. Against a backdrop of international turbulence, the global publishing industry has had a good year.

In addition, how publishers are now having to work in our emerging post-pandemic world with most staff remotely working from home, or a combination of home and the office is forcing changing in the ways we think about utilizing editorial and production resources. With the pressures of change already forced upon publishers, I believe now is a good time to review how future publishing workflows and production models can work for better both financial and production outcomes.

Easypress' definition of digital book publishing

The Easypress definition of digital publishing is about more than producing digital content, like augmented eBooks. (The term “augmented”  increasingly refers to eBooks that contain digital components, such as video, audio, and digital widgets.)

More than a decade ago, when Easypress set out to develop the first “no touch” eBook production process, we recognised that the best eBooks were produced by extracting all layout elements from the originating Adobe InDesign print file.

In 2017, Easypress automated many of the typesetting processes involved in producing a high-resolution print-ready PDF books, from an MS Word manuscript. By doing this, Easypress has been able to offer publishing services at a fraction of the cost of traditional manual typesetting based providers.

For Easypress, the journey from manuscript to print ready PDF and eBook involves a sophisticated digital publishing production process using software to deliver the final print and digital files. If you like, Easypress has taken the heavy lifting out of typesetting and eBook creation for the User.

Adopting digital publishing means that book publishers can now streamline their content to focus on the following four steps:


Using the same manuscript to create the Print Book, eBook and the Audiobook. One manuscript, many diverse outputs, from one delivery platform. Faster, and cheaper per page costs.

Digital Book Publishing Future

Historically, one of the barriers to digital publishing everywhere is the complexity of design and layout in many types of print books. Creative design can improve readability and accurate page composition enhances the look and feel of the book to its readers. However, complex formatting can lead to difficulties when it comes to creating the eBook.

Large numbers of complex eBooks today are still being crafted by hand by "cutting and pasting" snippets of PDF or Adobe InDesign files into HTML or XML for conversion into an EPUB eBook.

Manual intervention slows the conversion process down, introduces errors and often delays production of the digital eBook after the preparation of the final print version.

This is an acute problem in highly designed non-fiction and education books, in which the whole purpose of the design is to boost comprehension.

The advantages of using a digital format to promote learning, improve understanding and enhance education are obvious.

The leading university presses and scholarly publishers are attracted to multimedia content, which can be used to illustrate key points in the text and achieve better educational outcomes. Augmented eBooks are built for accessibility using video, audio and digital widgets, and are transforming the adoption of digital content across schools, colleges, universities and the professional book markets.

Having to add the multimedia components such as video, audio and digital widgets by hand is a very arduous and labour-intensive process, not to mention it eats into publishing management project times. The rounds of checking, proofing and approval can seem never ending leading to increased costs and delayed delivery times.

At Easypress, we have spent several years working on software that will allow the user to add layout features to existing platforms (based off the originating Adobe InDesign files), providing designers and compositors greater control and flexibility of their flow of work, plus through advanced workflow the collaboration they need to process their deliverables quickly and will the need for fewer rounds of revisions and corrections.

The potential advantages we believe are clear and compelling. Nevertheless, the impact on production workflows will be challenging and will involve change.

Firstly, there is the issue of change, which is never an easy topic for any publisher. Secondly, there is the skills issue, for both designers and compositors. A designer will no longer be able to annotate the layout with the dreaded note to “put video clip here” before throwing the PDF over the wall to someone else and moving on to their next design idea.

Next, you will require some joined up thinking on where these digital components are placed and how easily the digital components can be accessed by teams of designers and compositors from their production process. Most publishers have heavily invested in centralised content databases or repositories for storing and managing their text, image, or audio content.

However, to implement a digital publishing strategy for more advanced non-fiction layouts, or books like academic titles, which are design-driven it will not simply be good enough to manage digital content at an individual designer or book level.

Finally, consideration of how the production workflow will come together has to take place. Publishers will need to think very carefully about how their workflows currently operate verses how they will need to perform using an integrated production platform.

We believe the non-fiction and academic books of tomorrow will be far superior to the books of yesterday. As one academic said to me “Classical Mechanics hasn’t changed in 300 years but how we teach Classical Mechanics has evolved out of all recognition”.

The Benefits you WILL GET from adopting Digital BookPublishing:

1.      Big reduction in cost per page

2.      Faster turnaround times for both print and digital product

3.      Increased control over production, particularly eBooks

4.      Software doing the heavy lifting in print and digital production

5.      Remote working benefits from digital publishing

6.      Easier to undertake last minute changes, for designers & compositors

7.      Consistent and repeatable quality of output, be it print, eBook or audio

8.      Reduced management time for book and digital production

9.      100% track record over users on the digital publishing platform

With more time and lower costs increased focus will fall on improving graphic design and enhancing layouts and introducing multimedia video, audio, digital widgets, and enhanced accessibility for more absorbing reading and understanding.

Easypress’ Digital Book Publishing Strategy

Come and talk to Easypress about your digital publishing strategy in the fast-evolving world of book publishing.

Adopting Easypress’ digital publishing platform means you’re in control of the publishing workflow, which will save you time and up to 75% on your current production costs.

That is what digital publishing means to Easypress.

Let us know how Easypress can help you built your digital book publishing future!


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