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Three signs you need to make the move from book-centric to content-led publishing

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

How publishers can adapt to 'thinking big' about revenue from content, not just books.


“No matter how busy you might think you are you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance”


Confucius didn’t specify book-reading, did he?

We live in a world of readers, that much is true. But the vast majority of what today’s readers consume is delivered via their devices. And, for the most part, we’re not talking e-books.

What publishers deal in remains sought-after stuff; high-quality information from experts and leading creative minds. But consumers have moved on from thinking in terms of books, and the onus is on publishers (and their systems) to keep up.

Book-centric vs. content-led, and why publishing is shifting

The shift from books to content is especially stark in teaching and learning contexts. Online courses have boomed in recent years, especially in the pandemic. Far from being confined to students in school, college and university, the concept of remote learning has become an everyday part of mainstream professional development.

Publishers play home to the most high-quality, credible, well-researched, specialized content.

Publishers should therefore be the go-to source for those wanting a rich learning experience via brilliant content.

But can your company and your systems deliver on this potential?

A few signs your organisation needs to accelerate the process of becoming a content-led publisher:

  1. Others are sharing lower-quality content in your speciality (and they’re making a killing) The frustration for publishers who specialize in particular subjects, particularly in academic and educational publishing, is watching from the sidelines as the world of online course-creation booms. All the while, the best content, biggest experts, highest quality images may be trapped behind a web of rights and royalty considerations. Do you see courses and subscriptions promoted online and know your properties would be more credible and valuable? If so, it’s a glaring sign that there needs to be a focused shift to content-led publishing in your organization.

  2. Author contracts have to be reverse-engineered, or new types of agreements created from scratch each time a new digital opportunity arises Are your contracts book-centric? Do you have templates ready to go for different types of digital projects, and are they anticipated at the start of every new project? It’s impossible to know at the point of signing what rights and licenses might be applied to a work, but publishers can - at least - have a standard approach to licensing rights for excerpts, subscription models, audio and video content.

  3. Paying royalties for content gets tricky When it comes to the financials, royalty systems in publishing houses are usually wedded to that age-old, friendly identifier, the ISBN. But what identifiers are digital teams using when it comes to non-book content? Can your royalty system stand up to licensing excerpts, or different revenue models, like subscriptions?

Here’s where Biblio can help:

  1. A system like Biblio makes amending contracts and the rights workflow a piece of cake Where original contracts don’t have everything covered (and how can they?) there’s an efficient way of adding addendums and ensuring the latest agreement is easily available and searchable. Templates can be stored in the same system used for sharing a new draft contract internally, sending to stakeholders and - with secure permission controls - for signing off; all in one place which is easily accessible to rights teams and the wider company.

  2. Biblio can handle identifiers - any identifiers! That means: - ISSNs - DOIs - ORCID - ISNIs - Thema ...and any internal identifiers being used for: - Videos - Audio clips - Individual images - Excerpts ...and however they fit into other models, such as: - Subscription - On-demand - Podcasts

  3. Royalties can be ascribed to the right author without being strictly associated with a book ...the biggest benefit of flexibility around digital-product identifiers is being able to keep track of revenue for content. In the short term, this means time saved for financial teams and smooth payment of royalties. In the long term, it enables analysis. Spotting opportunities in the digital content market, pinpointing what works, and focusing on that.

Join the new content-led publishing crew

Your systems could support a move to dynamic, content-led publishing without major internal headaches. A smooth transition to publishing in different formats, for different platforms.

For example, a platform like Hodder Boost includes e-books, text-to-speech and flashcards, fully-browsable course material and uses a subscription model.

Or Bloomsbury Fashion Central, a ‘dynamic digital hub for interdisciplinary teaching and and research in fashion and dress. Peer-reviewed content including text, images, photos, video, case studies, and teaching resources.’

The new Biblio is an ideal content-led publishing tool, with all the features required to keep content, licensing and revenue running smoothly.


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