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Adobe's Nick Bogaty: Magazine and book industries will make a 'successful transition' from print to digital

by Chuck Lenatti

April 13 2012

TabTimes speaks to Nick Bogaty, director of business development for digital publishing at Adobe, about his perspective on print publishers moving into digital.

What are book publishers looking for as they transition to digital formats in the trade book market?

The trade e-book market of publishers like Random House, Harper-Collins and others over the past three years has just exploded. Three years ago or so, their e-book revenues were under 1%. Now there is a clear sightline to the majority of their revenue coming from e-books.

That growth has been driven by electronic ink-based devices like the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and SONY Reader. These e-Ink devices don't have high refresh rates and they're black and white, so they have very limited design potential, but they are great for trade books because E-Ink devices are a great equivalent for black text on white paper.

As we have more devices like the iPad, Kindle Fire and others that are full LCD devices that can process video and animation, we're starting to see lots of sections of the book industry become more and more interested in redesigning and rethinking the ways their books are packaged and should be presented.

The most logical areas are children's book publishers, highly illustrated design books and textbooks. Those three areas are most excited by things like the Kindle Fire and the iPad.

How is Adobe supporting the goals of those publishers?

We have two main ways to support publishers and they both start with Adobe InDesign. One is extending support for the formats that Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Apple support.

ePub 2 was the file format that drove the explosion of the trade book market. The job of ePub is to extend that to include all the additional multimedia enhancements to power an explosion in textbooks, children's books, things like that. InDesign has had ePub capabilities since Creative Suite 3, and the current version of InDesign, as well as subsequent versions, will include support for the type of enhancements that ePub 3 is delivering to the market.

The second is through the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite (DPS) which allows for highly designed content in a .folio file which is consumed in a custom branded application that is sold in app stores like the Apple App Store, Android Market and other app stores.

How can publishers migrate to all of the platforms economically without designing native apps for each of them?

The answer to that question is HTML. ePub supports technologies from HTML, CSS and Javascript. That promises a capability similar to a Web page that you make once and will adapt to different screen sizes.

The problem is that for book and magazine publishers and people who create publications that the public actually pays for, the design capabilities and control in HTML isn't good enough. Adobe is spending significant effort trying to solve this question: How do we allow a print designer who is accustomed to this kind of control in InDesign to author their publications in HTML in such a way that their customers are going to be delighted by the resulting publication?

We're doing that in InDesign, the Digital Publishing Suite and our ePub authoring capabilities in InDesign.

Where are we now in achieving those kinds of capabilities?

Using Digital Publishing Suite, you can produce pages of a publication in four different formats: PDF, JPEG, PNG and HTML. The one publication that uses HTML export in DPS the most is The New Yorker. They do that for automation reasons and because it reduces the file size dramatically because it's live text. They can do this because the design complexity of The New Yorker, on a spectrum of high design to a trade book, is more like a trade book than, for example, Wired.

As Adobe improves the ability to render or view pages that are created in InDesign in HTML, the number of publishers that leverage HTML like The New Yorker will increase dramatically over this year. If I had to guess, 95% of the pages that come out of DPS are images and 5% are HTML. I think that ratio will begin to even out just within this year.

When will we see the types of publications that rich-media devices imply?

We have thousands of publications which use the Digital Publishing Suite from Condé Nast to Rodale to National Geographic to Martha Stewart Living.

We look at statistics measuring how people are interacting with these publications against print all the time, as well as download rates and whether people are buying this stuff. The good news from a business perspective is we're seeing the type of engagement with these publications to be similar or even better than print.

That means that opposed to other industries, the magazine and book industries are going to make a successful transition from their print-based businesses to digital-based businesses and maintain the types of revenues they need to continue to make really nice products for the public.

Chuck Lenatti writes about digital media, marketing, and advertising. He lives in Pacifica, California.

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