eBooks in Education


Gross has gone on record saying that, within a few years, eBooks will drop the “e” and just be thought of as the predominant publication form. But if primary market fixtures like fiction novels and true-life memoirs lend themselves perfectly to digital forms, the same has not always been true for educational textbooks or image-heavy reference tomes. 

According to Gross though, eBook technology is adapting rapidly, and visual integration is only going to become better. DCL already works extensively with complex pictures or tables, often in math or chemistry books, and Gross can see that market growing in the near future. 

“There are colleges now that are all eBook,” Gross explained. “The State of Florida has a mandate that, within the next three years, K-8 public schools will be all electronic.”

As far as strictly educational texts are concerned though, Gross thinks there’s still a bit of road to cover. 

“We are working with a few educational publishers right now, but its a challenge,” he said. “It’s hard to take notes on a Kindle. It’s not quite the same as writing in the margins of a physical book, or highlighting things, so it’s going to take a little time. Education moves slowly, but I definitely think it is moving in that direction.”



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From the Tech Desk

Partnership between two industry players spells big news for eBook world

Over the past few months, this column has repeatedly covered the topic of digitalization within the publishing industry. Tablet technology is getting better and better, sleeker and more affordable with every new innovation and update, and with each crescendo in that momentum, another big player comes to the table.

This month, the spotlight falls upon Data Conversion Laboratory, an international presence in the digitalization realm setting their sights on the eBook market. The company is hardly new to the game, with 30 years of business under their belts and a storied legacy of generating electronic content for all manner of industries. They’ve logged labyrinthine information databases onto the web and converted out-of-print books into modern formats ready for re-editing and publication. Their expertise in “future-proofing” content has been sought by everyone from government divisions to non-profit organizations to high-rise corporations. And now, through a partnership with Bowker, the official ISBN Agency for the United States and surrounding territories, Data Conversion Laboratory is taking the self publishing world to new heights.

According to Mark Gross, the CEO of Data Conversion Laboratory, this new partnership is a beautifully complimentary one. Data Conversion Laboratory’s “Books to Bytes” service—initially built for the aforementioned out-of-print market—quickly developed into a wider-scale eBook operation as the concept of digital publication began to grow. But Data Conversion Laboratory’s base of 30 or 35 small publishers wasn’t big enough to launch their new service into the stratosphere. To do that, they needed to reach individuals, to tap into the vast landscape of writers looking to self-publish their book. Bowker provided the answer to that conundrum. 

“We’re really two sides of a similar coin going for the same audience,” Gross said. “We were reaching out to those individual authors, and Bowker was already doing business with them, selling ISBN numbers and dealing with people we would like to do business with. At the same time Bowker was getting calls about how to go about creating eBooks.”

A serendipitous meeting at an industry trade show put Bowker and Data Conversion Laboratory on track for a partnership that would address the other side of the equation for both. Fast forward a year, with countless hours spent developing the service, integrating it with different devices, and making sure quality control was thoroughly in place, and the two companies are finally unleashing their service upon the publishing world. 

So how does it work? Like lightning, according to Gross. Authors submit their text in whatever form it exists, answer a series of questions, and then wait two to four days for the finished product. In between, Data Conversion Laboratory goes to work formatting the author’s words into a state-of-the-art eBook, putting them through numerous layers of automated conversion and editor review to make sure everything looks crisp and clean. And with thorough insight into the quirks and interfaces of each tablet, Data Conversion Laboratory makes sure that the finished eBook is of the highest quality possible, regardless of file format.

”The eReaders don’t take everything in the same way,” Gross explained. “For example, there are .epub standards for how tables are going to be done, but other readers don’t accept them in the same way. There are lots of places where things can go wrong [in formatting], but we try to cover all of that and give writers and readers the best experiences we can.”

Once the book is finished, authors can purchase ISBN catalog numbers from Bowker or pursue assistance in dealing with various distribution services, but on the whole, the Data Conversion Laboratory/Bowker partner service is a no-strings-attached operation. Gross has heard the horror stories of self-publishers losing their distribution rights to shady conversion providers, but assured prospective customers that no similar headaches exist with his service. 

“Bowker was looking for an ethical and reputable eBook conversion service, and they went with us,” Gross said. 

Interested in checking out what Data Conversion Laboratory and Bowker are offering? Click here to learn more about the service, from pricing to formatting options to marketplace integration.


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Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In edition to writing for Independent Publisher, he maintains a pair of entertainment blogs, interns at the Traverse City Business News, and writes for Rockfreaks.net and his college newspaper. He welcomes comments or questions concerning his articles via email, at manningcr953@gmail.com.