Publishers who have been a witness to the digital transformation would probably agree that digitization with tools like ebook publishing platforms has been one of the best things to have happened to the publishing industry.
Today everyone is familiar with the concept of online learning and eBooks. In fact, they are an essential part of modern classrooms, mainly due to their flexibility and interactivity. And in order to make them accessible and interactive you require a publishing platform. There is no dearth of eBook publishing platforms today. The challenge lies in selecting one that gives you the best output.
Before we list out the things you need to look out for in a digital publishing platform, let us have a quick look at some of its benefits.
- The process of eBook creation is much simpler than the traditional publishing method
- Digital publishing is cost-effective, and the books can reach a global audience
- Eliminates the risks associated with warehousing and logistics
- Publishers can always keep the content updated
- Can use social media and eStores to promote, market & sell your eBook.
Here are some must-have features of an eBook publishing platform.
1. Compatibility with Multiple Devices, Operating Systems and Browsers
Since there are different operating systems available and also web browsers that are either specific to each OS or accessible across all systems, the content you publish must be accessible on most if not all operating systems and browsers.
Then comes the choice of devices like mobiles, tablets and laptops. While purchasing an ebook publishing platform, you need to ensure that users can access the published content on multiple devices and operating systems.
2. Supports ePUB3
ePUB is the standard format for eBooks, as most of the eBook readers accept files in the ePUB format. However, if you have the content ready in PDF, text or any other format, you should still be able to upload the file to the platform and convert it to ePUB. eBook publishing tools provide the option of converting your files before publishing. Here’s our comparison between ePub and PDF.
Other widely used eBook formats include Mobi and AZW, depending on the device you want to make the content available on. For a wider reach, we would suggest going for an ePUB format.
Another reason why we recommend ePUB is because the latest version of ePUB ie. ePUB3 allows you to publish the final output in fixed as well as reflowable layout. Here’s more on Reflowable or Fixed-layout ePUB – Which is Better?
3. Easy-to-operate Interface
Ask for a trial or a demo to understand the workings of the interface and other features of the tool. The ebook publishing platform you choose must be easy to work with. Not everyone in your team would be an expert with back-end codes.
An interface with simple drag & drop widgets, buttons & icons to add, move and design various elements in the eBook would be the ideal digital publishing solution for an educational publisher.
4. White-labelled Platform
As a publisher, you would definitely want your logo and standard design template to be used. Therefore, look for a white-label platform which allows customization. Most of the ebook publishing platforms are available in white-label to let the publishers amplify their brand identity.
eBook publishing tools have analytics feature that provide in-depth data to publishers on the number of books distributed, number of books downloaded, average view time, user’s content consumption patterns etc.
This feature gives you an accurate report about your eBook sales. Publishers need this information to strategize their sales and ebook distribution process. Therefore, find a platform that has an in-built analytics tool.
This is one of the most important features of an eBook. While selecting a ebook publishing tool, you need to check for all the various enrichments that you can add to the eBook.
For example, high quality images, videos, audio files are all multimedia elements that are crucial to create an engaging and interactive eBook.
Other interactivities include gamification, annotation, text highlight, polls, interactive quizzes and so on. Interactivities keep the eBook engaging for learners.
Also remember to check the formats of video, audio and image files that are supported by the platform.
7. DRM Protection
The concern for security of content on the internet has given rise to many companies that offer online content protection software. DRM protects your content against intentional or unintentional thefts, unauthorized use and piracy.
With DRM protection, the content is encrypted and can only be accessed by users with a unique and valid access code. Therefore, look for a vendor who offers content security i.e. DRM as well. Here’s more on what is DRM (Digital Rights Management) and why you need it.
Know How to Create a DRM Protected eBook and Distribute it Securely
Publishers want their eBooks to be available for students on a global scale. Some digital publishing platforms like Kitaboo let you create your own eStore, where you can sell your eBooks.
Publishers can host their eBooks on the eStore and manage categories, prices and promotions.
You would also require an API that can integrate with any payment gateway, so that users can directly purchase eBooks from your branded web store.
By selecting a publishing platform that allows you to create your own eStore, you can have a logo-branded online store to showcase your eBooks on every device.
9. LMS Integration
A lot of publishers have their own learning management systems, which work perfectly fine for them. They may not want to switch to an entirely new platform.
In this case, you might want to look for an ebook publishing platform that integrates with your existing LMS. Publishers mainly require an LMS to host all their eLearning products, create separate portals for each author and create courseware. With LTI compatibility, you can use a single framework for your publishing and training needs.
LTI compatibility allows an external tool to sync with your LMS seamlessly. So, if the publishing platform can integrate with your current LMS, your entire epublishing and content delivery process will become easier to manage.
Once you have confirmed the availability of all the above-mentioned features, then proceed to compare the price.
Some vendors may sell their eBook publishing platform on an annual licensing basis or they would make a final sale where you can use the product endlessly.
Select whichever option you find feasible. We would recommend going for a yearly license-based tool, as this way you can switch to another eBook publishing platform at the end of the year if you are not happy with the software.
To sum it up
Selecting an ebook publishing platform must ideally be a one-time investment. You don’t want to go through the process of scouting for one all over again.
But at the same time, it is also reasonable to go for a licensed subscription where you can renew your license at the end of the term validity.
Like we said before, opting for a limited license period will give you the freedom to change the tool at a later date. After all, it depends on your publishing needs and your budget. So, refer to the above-mentioned factors and choose wisely.
Latest posts by Mike Harman (see all)
- How to Choose The Best eReader for Your Institution - January 24, 2020
- PDF or ePUB- Which is the Better Format for ePublishing? - January 16, 2020
- All You Wanted to Know About Digital Textbooks - January 14, 2020