We spoke to Sabine Guerry, founder of 123 Library, about the rise of e-publishing in the cloud, and why publishers should consider this approach.
For those that are approaching this topic for the first time, can you explain what e-publishing in the cloud is about?Cloud based systems, or Software as a Service (SaasS) as they are also known, are a way of combining proprietary data and shared software storage. They provide publishers with access to hardware, software and maintenance on a licensed basis, without having to invest in setting up and managing your own in-house system.
As eBook distributions models have proliferated it can be difficult to scale your operation. The restrictions in the current aggregator model have resulted in smaller to medium sized and specialist publishers being overlooked. Cloud publishing is changing that offering flexibility over distribution and control over sales, effectively democratising publishing. In its simplest terms, it harnesses the potential of off-site data management service providers to open up possibilities requiring minimal upfront capital expenditure.
What does this mean for a publisher’s output?It provides efficiency in your distribution process as you can plug into existing tried and tested systems. Cloud services are accessible for the publisher and their customers and employ the latest user experience approaches for simplicity of use. When you use a cloud based service, it means you can offer access to content direct rather than being solely reliant on aggregators. It puts control of your eBook distribution back into your hands. For academic publishers cloud publishing platforms can cater for eBook delivery to both individual user and institutions.
What other features can it provide?Some customisation is usually available in cloud based systems meaning you can change and adapt it for your list and your market, but in a timely and responsive way. Cloud based systems also tend to include cross device capability and include enhanced search and research tools that improve the user experience. Areas such as privacy of customer data, authentication, DRM security, bibliographic reference integration, management tools, web reading, cataloguing, content management and e-commerce can be handled by the system.
How does it usually work if you decide to work with a cloud based solution?Cloud publishing starts with a set of tools for linking easy-to-use software applications – usually via an API (application programme interface). The API allows publishers to create a bespoke, standalone eBook distribution and sales website, but it can be used to power an existing one. The API also dictates how programme elements interact and function so the publisher doesn’t have to worry about seeing or modifying them.
Why would you recommend users consider this approach?Cloud services work particularly well for smaller organizations. They don’t require a team of in-house developers working on bespoke software. They are an ‘off the shelf’ solution with simple integration and easier maintenance. The cloud company will undertake the expense and risk of maintaining and developing the software which is then ‘shared’ amongst their customers reducing cost. Cloud-based systems are also scalable so you can match demand. Crucially, it allows you to punch above your weight and provide direct eBook services comparable to those of larger publishers.
Sabine is Director and Founder of 123Library, an eBook B2B delivery tool for publishers. She is an entrepreneur who specializes in developing IT services for the publishing industry. 123Library’s CloudPublish™ platform provides a range of business models and management tools for both end-users and librarians, and complies with academic institutions' technical requirements. www.123library.org.