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“Ask not what your content can do for you, but what you can do for your content!”

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

A Manifesto for Transformation: 5 Steps towards Fully Utilizing your Intellectual Property, Controlling your Digital Assets and Future-Proofing your Publishing Business

In recent years, the publishing industry has changed fundamentally, with our former fixed-focus on books taking a necessary but somewhat unprecedented turn towards the publication of multi-format products, apps and microsites which more readily cater for current consumer trends and preferences.

Whilst it could be perceived as daunting, this shift towards curated content brings with it a world of opportunities - providing publishers are in a position to act accordingly as soon as these opportunities arise. But what can publishers do to prepare for such undefined, transient and often unforeseen instances? And why should they consider doing so?

In June 2021, Virtusales Publishing Solutions’ Director of Marketing & Communications, Kat Coveyduck, presented on the benefits of digital workflows for content-led publishing - you can watch the full presentation on the Virtusales website, here. During her presentation, Coveyduck reported on current consumer trends (with reference to Forbes magazine and the Cisco Annual Internet Report 2021) and the impact that digital products have had on consumers’ reading habits in recent years.

In particular, Coveyduck noted that:

  • While the number of products within the book industry continues to rise - and is likely to increase further still over the coming decade - the volume of sales per product are declining;

  • Audiobooks are becoming progressively more popular as individuals turn to audio formats and platforms to get their reading-fixes;

  • The world-population is gradually moving online to consume content, with 42% now reading via their devices; and

  • It is estimated that, by 2022, 82% of all online content will be video.

These trends emphasise the need for publishers to move with the times in order to stay relevant; and the best way to achieve this, according to Forbes, is by focussing on your existing readerships, developing and honing your niche, offering even more tailored content to your dedicated followers and providing instant access to this content online in order to grow your network of digital subscribers.

Of course, this increase in the volume of intellectual property and product formats brings with it additional considerations and operational challenges: there will be more IP, more metadata, more rights, more royalties, etc., to deal with than ever before, and this is precisely why publishers need a fully-integrated system like Biblio to store and control their IP and assets, automate their digital workflows and support their transformation to becoming a forward-thinking, content-led publishing house.

Where Self-Awareness and Aspiration Meet

The key to survival in an ever-changing industry is a combination of evolution and its byproduct, transformation. Yet, self-awareness - about your organisation, the products it’s renowned for, and your customers’ preferences - as well as a healthy amount of aspiration can certainly go a long way when it comes to curating digital content. And the good news is, you don’t have to be the biggest or wealthiest publisher to make the necessary changes - in fact, smaller publishers are often more agile and better suited to fast adaptation than larger organisations are!

To provide you with some guidance about what you can do within your publishing business to begin your shift towards content-led publishing, we’ve put together 5 essentials steps that we believe you should consider within the parameters of your own publishing business:

1) Enrich your metadata

First and foremost, think about your metadata - which is, in effect, the lifesource of your products. The provision of complete, quality and timely metadata will increase the discoverability of your products dramatically and this, in turn, will have a direct impact on your organisation’s sales figures. (Don’t believe us? Read Nielsen Book’s recently updated white paper: The Importance of Metadata for Discoverability and Sales).

For best results, you should consider the following:

  • Incorporating enhanced / enriched metadata into your data feeds to reach your target market;

  • Automating the dissemination of your feeds to ensure information about your products is as accurate and up-to-date as possible throughout the supply chain;

  • Using tools and reporting mechanisms to help illustrate the impact of metadata on your sales;

  • Providing feedback to your colleagues who are responsible for your organisation’s metadata, to ensure that they are informed about the impact that good metadata has on sales; and

  • Encouraging internal staff and stakeholders to contribute data directly to your system to facilitate this digital workflow.

2) Become a content curator

Being deliberately agnostic about the content and format of your products from their ideation and acquisition can help to maximize the use and re-use of your IP, and subsequently increase the revenue generated from that IP. The earlier this consideration is addressed within a product’s lifecycle, the more you’ll get out of your IP in the long run.

It would therefore be advisable to consider:

  • The extent to which your IP can/should be sold in a more granular way to end-consumers, e.g. in a variety of formats and/or broken down into chapter-level metadata, (the latter of which can be especially popular within the academic and educational sectors);

  • Whether the IP can/should be packaged and/or bundled with other, relevant IP in your possession to create can array of more tailored products which have specific end-consumers in mind;

  • Centralizing your system and tools to enable enhanced reporting which supports the early release of content; and

  • Recording rights, permissions and sales against the products in your system to gain unique insights which will better inform your future, strategic publishing decisions.

3) Consider new business models and channels

Even if your current business model is showing great returns, it’s always a good idea to research new, non-traditional sales channels that could be lucrative for your organisation from time to time. You might, for example, consider the provision of a new service by offering agnostic formats which can be transformed/tailored into bespoke products for specific audiences, e.g. custom textbooks, or you might consider connecting with new organisations and/or institutions (outside of your current customer base and channels) to truly maximize the return of your IP.

Try planning out your aspirations and creating a strategy to help you achieve your goals. In particular, you’ll need a fully-integrated system that can:

  • Help your staff to easily update and manage pricing models centrally; and

  • Provide the flexibility to quickly adapt to future models and channels, as and when required.

4) Refine and scale for high volumes

Your organisation’s capacity for automation is a key factor when considering whether you and your staff can take on higher volumes of products. Thinking about all the digital workflows and processes involved in commissioning, publishing and distributing your content will provide insight to this end, and will help you to identify those workflows which will need to be better streamlined and/or automated in order to scale up and increase volume without needing more people.

Through the implementation of a system that has a specific focus on efficient workflows, such as Biblio, you will be able to:

  • Introduce digital workflows and validation tools to your business, which are more than flexible enough to actively support the creation of multi-format products;

  • Critique your current in-house practices and workflows with a view to reducing any unnecessary procedures which might hinder your journey to content-led publishing; and

  • Quickly scale your output through the use of batch update tools, to further drive your volumes upwards.

5) Ensure your systems are ready and compatible

As noted above - now more than ever before - a world of opportunities is at your fingertips, providing your publishing house is in a position to act on those opportunities as soon as they arise. To succeed, your organisation will need to invest in a publishing system that is fully-integrated and has been specifically developed to enable multi-format publishing.

By implementing such a system, your publishing house can avoid reliance on ISBNs, enabling your business to support the creation, production, sales and marketing, financial controls and royalty payments for any type of product, from any form of IP that you own.

And the introduction a modern royalty system will ensure that your organization is capable of calculating royalty payments for digital products and content items (as well as any new or forthcoming formats) at the most appropriate times within your publishing lifecycle (i.e. 6 months prior to publication date for print products, or daily upwards for digital products and subscription models).

Vote for Content Precedence!

Cast your vote for the future today by repositioning rights at the core of your business and seeking out efficiencies that will help you begin to manage your products in even higher volumes, centralize your workflows and increase your products’ visibility. The benefits are clear but your successful transition to content-led publishing will be dependent on having the right infrastructure in place to support your aspirations, so choose your system wisely.

If you’d like to find out more about why we truly believe Biblio is the system for you, contact us to speak to one of our publishing specialists or to arrange a demo.

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