Getting In The Game: An Old School Publisher Embraces the New Era of Component Content Publishing
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Getting In The Game: An Old School Publisher Embraces the New Era of Component Content Publishing

Getting In The Game: An Old School Publisher Embraces the New Era of Component Content Publishing

The other day I was on a social media group where someone shared the link to a complete video of a January 1986 UVA-UNC game I attended back in my college days in Charlottesville. Two things were eminently clear after watching the video:

  1. UVA beat the number one team in the country that night due to a dominant performance. (Unforgettable).
  2. Dick Vitale, the venerable ESPN announcer for the game, was younger than I am now, and perfecting his “It’s awesome, baby” tag line.

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Just over a year later, I started my career in educational publishing, working as an Editorial Assistant for Richard D. Irwin, Inc. in beautiful Homewood, Illinois. Irwin was a prestigious business textbook publisher owned by Dow Jones known for its legendary “bound in blue” cover designs. (Besides being a great way to save money on cover design, it was a great branding exercise!) One of my first assignments in my new role was to revise a couple of titles for new editions: John Grimaldi’s Safety Management, and Henshaw and Jackson’s The Executive Game.

In both cases, we had the authors prepare the manuscript by tearing up the current editions of each book, marking their edits, and inserting pages and figures in an intricate karaoke of cut, paste, and add to deliver a finished manuscript. Editors made updates based on a fairly extensive review process, where we took user feedback from subject matter experts (professors), shared it with the authors, then had the authors make their updates. If the process went quickly, we could usually get this done in 6-9 months! (For a revision, mind you.) Then the real fun began!

At the subsequent production launch, a half dozen people sat at a table. They stared at the finished manuscript with sullen, sober countenances, assessing the copy-editing, layout, and production schedule for the book. The verdict? A production schedule that took anywhere from 6 months to a year, depending on the complexity of the manuscript! There were figures to be drawn, equations to be checked, words to be “smithed,” covers to be designed, reviewed, and approved. Copy editors had to copy-edit. Page proofs required review. It was a symphony of an effort designed to keep the material current, relevant, and compelling. In 1987, the world moved slowly in publishing, even as the Cold War raged on, and Wang Chung, Prince, and Michael Jackson ruled the charts.

Fast forward to 2020. A lot has changed, of course. The Internet happened. We are living through a pandemic. Still, we produce and consume information at a pace that is difficult to comprehend. And of course, the venerable college publishing industry has changed drastically. But authoritative, current content in science, business, and academia still matters. As the world adjusts amidst a pandemic, producing it accurately, efficiently, and effectively matters even more. What was once a one-year production/editorial schedule is compressed into weeks, days, minutes, and even “just in time.” Your content can be a course, a book, a blog post, a technical manual. It is authoritative. It is mission-critical. But with the explosion in capability, keeping track of content and disseminating it effectively across all media formats becomes the new challenge. How do you maximize its reuse in an omnichannel world? How do you keep it organized? And timely? Publishers faced with monetizing their content in an ever more fractured content environment require solutions that keep pace with the demands of their audience!

So after over 30 years in the content business producing, selling, and marketing everything from textbooks to courseware and everything in between, I am thrilled to lead Orbis’ sales efforts for modern content management solutions that set the pace for our accelerated world. Leveraging the capabilities of RSuite, we have solutions for curating, developing, and accelerating content in ways that were incomprehensible in 1986. Whether you’re in the publishing industry, the insurance industry, pharmaceutical, automotive, aviation, manufacturing, our team has the experience and knowledge to help you maximize your content’s value. Like any championship-caliber team, we pull together every day to deliver the “slam dunk,” the perfect bounce pass, the clutch fadeaway three-pointer for our clients at all times. It’s great to be part of a team with a winning attitude. In the words of the irrepressible Dick Vitale, “It’s awesome, baby!”

By: Christopher Will, Vice President of Corporate Sales

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