Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/26/2013

IDEAlliance (The International Digital Enterprise Alliance) Seeks Standardization for Mobile Magazine Publishing


IDEAllianceStandardization, or an open format, that allows publishing across all mobile formats with one application at the same time has been achieved (pretty much) for book publishing in the ePub specification.

But, one does not yet exist for the more difficult magazine publishing — more difficult due to a magazines demand for more imagery, graphics, layout, etc.

Why all this attention to mobile publishing? Simply because tablets, e-readers and iPads are replacing desktop computers as the consumer’s choice to access content.

The IDEAlliance is working with players throughout the supply chain to standardize tablet edition formats to simplify the process of tablet issue production by eliminating many of the competing formats and workflows.

The following details are from FOLIO magazine:

Cutting Through the Mire of Tablet Issue Production

“Each publisher has approached tablets at its own pace, with its own purpose. The result has left a scattered set of protocols across the industry.

The goal is an industry standard called OpenEFT — guidelines to direct the packaging, delivery and display of digital magazines for everyone in the ecosystem. OpenEFT’s final draft was unveiled late last month.

“We, as publishers, would like to be able to provide a designed-for-tablet, interactive edition to all the newsstands,” says Sean Keefe, executive director of publishing technology for Hearst Magazines. “But right now, not all of them take the same file formats.” 

The benefits for publishers are twofold. Tablet issue production would become a more efficient process, while the barriers to third-party innovation would be lowered.

Tablet issue production is currently convoluted. Hearst currently produces up to three formats (and several variants) of its magazines, depending on the brand and the newsstand they’re working with; Next Issue Media, a digital newsstand, is forced to adapt about six formats for its storefront. Many of those conversions are labor intensive and require quality assurance testing at multiple points.

Ideally, says Keith Barraclough, CTO and vice president of products for Next Edition, the exchange of files would be simplified, QA would only be needed once and the process would be automated.

“Whether OpenEFT can do all this as it goes through its standardization process and tools and manufacturers come along and adopt, that’s all a big ‘TBD’,” he says. “But hat’s the nirvana we’re looking for.”

An open specification already exists, called ePub, but it was built to handle books, not magazines.

“The orientation toward imagery, layout and the subtlety of the navigation of a magazine is something that’s evolved more,” Barraclough says.

While Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance, says OpenEFT is closely modeled after ePub, she adds that the need for tablet-optimized ad units is another major reason the book-centric format needed to be tweaked for digital magazines.

Magazine staff have to manipulate the units from the agency, often without being exactly sure of how the final product was supposed to render. The costs and confusion make their use rare.

“Magazines, unlike books, rely a lot on the ad model,” Kennedy says. “There is no specification for the exchange and rendering of this interactive content, so the magazines have been limiting the number of interactive ads they will accept.”

Regardless of how or why they started with tablet editions, publishers will agree that improving production efficiency is beneficial.

Now, it’s up to them to adopt the standard.”

OpenEFT Design Principles

Here are a few of OpenEFT’s 13 design principles:

– Must be based on industry standards

– Must not cause major disruption to existing tablet publishing workflows

– Must support enhancement types that are common across 2013 tablet editions

– Must consider the advertizing workflow and integration of advertizing

– Should be designed so that highly-designed publications, other than magazines, can adopt this format

– Must design for the future by embracing emerging technologies

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