For Young, the reason to use XML is simple--it allows Hachette to develop and deliver content to readers in the formats they want. It also saves money on production costs and can lead to new revenue streams. Young noted there are some estimates that put the number of handheld devices in the world at 3 billion, which, he said, equates to “3 billion blank pages.” To reach that audience, content needs to be flexible enough to be delivered in a variety of ways, Young said. Since XML uses a content-centric, design-agnostic approach to production, an XML file is uniquely suited to deliver content as an e-book or through print-on-demand, he said.
The effective use of XML, however, requires cooperation and commitment throughout the production process, beginning with editors and authors, Young said. By using XML to tag content, editors are in a position to help shape how that content will be delivered, Young said, predicting that “tagging will become as ingrained as the blue pencil.” Young acknowledged that editors will need to be trained on how to tag and that they will need to develop new skills and have new tools. “It will be a sea change” about who does what, Young said, but ultimately the changes will open up new revenue opportunities.
Speakers on the rest of the morning’s panels expanded on various themes introduced by Young. Brian O’ Leary of Magellan Media Consulting Partners, said that publishers will only be able to fully capitalize n XML if they adopt a discipline approach to using it, which begins with editors tagging the information. He noted that some types of books will work benefit more from XML than others (a point made by one of the conference organizers, Mike Shatzkin in his What the Hell is XML piece which appeared in the Dec. 15 PW). Rebecca Goldthwaite of Cengage Learning noted that among the lessons learned in implementing XML there was the need for a “culture change,” and for XML to be used consistently throughout. Simon & Schuster’s Steve Kotrch emphasized the ability using XML gives a publisher to create more robust rights databases that can be hooked to other databases to exchange information.
Evan Schnittman of Oxford University Press touched on the benefits of using XML in terms of improving search results on Google. The ability to put books (and other content) into “chunks” enhances the chances that those books will be discovered through traditional Google searches rather than only through Google Book Search, Schnittman said. He noted that OUP has created a “significant revenue stream” as a result of its books being discovered through Google. OUP has 15,564 titles in Google Book Search, which have generated more than 143 million page views, Schnittman said which in turn has led to more than 734,000 clicks on a buy link or 47.2 buy clicks per book. Bill O’Brien of the Copyright Clearance Center also brought up chunking, noting that chunking leads to “micro commerce,” which can accumulate late into a significant sum. (CCC has dispersed $1 billion to publishers since it was launched 30 years ago, he said).
Multipurposing material is where they are looking to make their money next.