As soon as we share a file with someone, it is out of our control. As soon as that PDF leaves us, it is frozen in time and released out into the world with no way to bring it back… Where is it? Who has it? Did they receive it? Have they got the correct version? Have they shared it? Who knows?
In my work at Circular Software I help publishers, like Bonnier Books UK, by solving production and operational headaches. In thinking about how illustrated publishers can present books and product information in the best way, I was sure that we could do much better than sending out PDFs!
The idea is simple – rather than sending our books out to people, instead, we should invite people in to our books…
The approach of iPlayer / Netflix / Spotify etc. is to control our access to their high-quality online content. We go to it, it is not sent to us. By first identifying who we are, we are then given access to a vast library of great content in an easy to use, professional and attractive way.
This same approach is offered by Bonnier Books Bookshelf. By providing a live, always-up-to-date, online version of every book that they may want to sell publishing rights to, along with the latest description and current production and bibliographic information, they have transformed how they sell by centralising their content and data, and then controlling the access to it.
A much more modern approach to how we present books to our partners and customers.Helen Wicks, Executive Director, Bonnier Books UK
With content now gathered online in this new, powerful and flexible way, they now invite people in to search and filter, browse by imprint, or share access with a URL. Users can search every word and link directly to every page. They can choose to instantly share content out to social media and allow other company sites and trusted partners to also feature the book content and data that they allow.
A much smarter approach than paying talented creatives to churn out PDFs and print outs is to connect the artwork on their desktops directly to the live BookShelf site. By linking straight from an open InDesign file or PDF they have removed the delays as they wait for updates from designers along with the uncertainty of whether the content and information is still current.
We used to dread the run-up to book fairs in particular, for the unholy amount of work, and the maddening thing was that, once the book fair came along, you’d done loads more great work that no one could then see.Kieran Hood, Design and Development Manager, Bonnier Books UK
Having a full set of the latest spreads of every book in a secure central location, along with each title’s live biblio data, also opens up new opportunities to work in smarter ways. Internal design discussions and cover meetings are becoming easier to arrange online. Titles can be pulled together into collections so sales presentations can be automatically generated for use offline. QR codes in print catalogues can link back to retina-quality previews on product pages on the bookshelf site that can be enhanced with interactions and videos.
When we do need to take things offline we can be smarter there too. Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, OneDrive etc. will allow us to carry synchronised folders of content on laptops and tablets that automatically update once we are back online again.
In working closely with Bonnier to solve these problems, they have been able to shape the solution into something that really fits their needs, and we have developed a new product along the way. I’m excited to see how BookShelf from Circular Software continues to develop in the future.
If we can change our approach to file sharing to one that takes advantage of the modern web and cloud computing, where we go to the latest the content rather than expecting it to come to us, we all get rewarded with access to richer, up-to-date content in better quality.
BookShelf is a whole new way of selling to customers in a much more streamlined and professional-looking way than just showing PDFs.Kirsty Davison, Publishing Manager, Bonnier Books UK
Ken Jones runs Circular Software. He was Technical Production Manager and Publishing Software Trainer for Penguin and Dorling Kindersley for many years and now offers software, training and advice to publishers such as Quarto Group, Bonnier Books and Pan Macmillan to help them get the best from their print and digital workflow.
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