Monday, July 16, 2007

Simon & Schuster digitizing backlist

I received an email newsletter from a digital content services vendor today that included an interesting promotional note -- Simon & Schuster is teaming with Innodata Isogen to digitize and convert thousands of backlist titles spanning more than 80 years of publishing history.

The interview included in the article describes the project in a couple of ways -- they see this project as a form of preservation reformatting given potential deterioration of the print, and to support future electronic distribution ventures.

I was particularly taken with their brief description of their selection criteria:

"... we selected both recently published and perennial bestsellers as well as deep backlist with low, but consistent, demand. We prioritized titles based on several factors including backlist sales numbers, “long tail” consumer interest (based on search engine traffic and backorder volume from retailers and distributors) and unexercised eBook publishing rights. We also took into account certain risks to the rich and varied backlist we offer that warranted pushing titles to the front of the line – including waning inventory availability and other factors."
It's not an open access project (they started publishing in 1924), but not every digitization project is. They're frank in saying that their goal is to open up new sales avenues. I'm not sure about their statement that they will be "protecting the intellectual property of our authors and illustrators." I can only assume they mean that by making legal digital versions that they will be curtailing illegal digitization and distribution.

It certainly was effective marketing for S&S -- It got my attention.

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