Tech Desk

From the Tech Desk

Using XML Technology to Help Organizations Become Publishers

Front Edge Publishing is an interesting company. Based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Front Edge is devoted not to publishing their own books, but to helping other organizations "become publishers" themselves. "We want to help your organization revitalize, distribute, and leverage your content to reach out to new audiences," reads one section of the company's website. Rather than charging businesses an arm and a leg (and providing sub-par customer service) for middle-of-the-road print-on-demand materials, Front Edge Publishing seeks to give companies the tools they need to affordably and effectively expand the reach of their content.

With that said, the latest innovation from Front Edge Publishing, called BookMog, could be an eye-catching technology for both publishers and for organizations that want to become their own publishers. Utilizing XML technology, BookMog seeks to "optimize editing, manuscript management, production, distribution and real-time sales tracking processes for all platforms, digital and print." The idea behind the software is that creating written content is the easy part of the publishing process. Many organizations have pages upon pages of quality written content, scattered between their websites, brochures, and other informational materials. Publishing companies, meanwhile, work primarily with Word documents or PDFs to select titles for publication, make edits or revisions, and more.

The publication process gets challenging when it comes time to take all of that raw written content and put it into publishable formats. Most publishing companies, of course, spend months or years taking a title from acquisition through to distribution. As for print-on-demand platforms, I can speak from my own experiences with POD that trying to create a print-ready PDF for a book is a frustrating process of trial and error. In other words, for organizations that want to build their content into a book form, or for publishers who want a more intuitive way of working with files, BookMog might be an optimal solution.

So how does it work? According to Front Edge Publishing, using XML technology is useful because it "enables storing a book's content in a dynamic state." This dynamic state in turn makes "one-source revision and editing" possible, which is why BookMog is such a useful tool for organizations and publishers alike. Just about every process of book preparation becomes easier with BookMog, from creating the book layout to easily publishing a title in various different physical and digital formats.

In particular, BookMog makes it a breeze to revise a book for new editions or print runs, whether that means swapping in an alternate cover or inserting new chapters or introductory material. The addition and revision functions of BookMog could be especially useful for textbook publishers, who have to create new additions of their books as new developments and research emerge in the fields and subjects they cover. Similarly, organizations that release annual handbooks or pamphlets could use BookMog to either add to their content or package existing content in a new way.

Speed is the defining characteristic of BookMog, though. According to the press release for the software, Front Edge Publishing trims the publishing process to just "30 to 60 days." John Hile, the founder and chief technology officer of Front Edge Publishing, noted that "in the past, book production and workflow management has been extremely cumbersome." Most publishers are used to this cumbersome process and to the lengthy wait times that generally transpire between manuscript completion and publication. Organizations that want to create their own books, though, are not accustomed to (and perhaps, not even familiar with) the long, long road to book publication. Front Edge Publishing and BookMog give those companies a faster alternative without a major drop off in product quality.

Ultimately, BookMog will probably have more traction with non-publishing organizations than with existing publishers. Sure, the editing, updating, and customization features of BookMog could be incredibly useful to virtually any independent publishing company out there. But many such companies already have their processes in place and are less likely to adopt new software than, say, an organization that has maybe only published two or three titles in the past. Front Edge Publishing is also a company that typically serves the business, education, communications, or non-profit industries. Their existing clients, for example, include the Humane Society of the United States, the Michigan State School of Journalism, and Detroit Public Television.

Still, while Front Edge Publishing will likely market BookMog more toward organizations than toward publishers, the fact remains that this new XML-based software is worth a look for anyone who is frustrated with the long, cumbersome process of publishing a book. From expediting the formatting process, to making it easy to create different editions of a book for different audiences, BookMog includes numerous features that could be beneficial to literally any branch of the publishing industry.

Are you interested in learning more about BookMog? Visit the Front Edge Publishing at www.frontedgepublishing.com for more information about the company, or click here to read the BookMog press release.


Craig Manning is currently studying English and Music at Western Michigan University. In addition to writing for IndependentPublisher.com, 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.


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