Publishing Industry Trends from Pearson’s Director of Content Architecture
Recently, Digital Book World sat down with Paul Belfanti, Director of Content Architecture at Pearson, to talk about the year in review and what lies ahead. The interview gave readers a small taste of what they’ll hear from Belfanti on January 13th at the The Digital Book World Conference + Expo, which brings together media, publishing, and technology professionals around the latest digital publishing strategies and cutting-edge technology.
As a thought leader in the digital publishing space, Belfanti had many insightful things to say, but we picked out a few of our favorite quotes below. For many publishers, these are especially important ideas to consider for the coming year–and years to come.
1. Think digital first.
“[In 2014], content became increasingly conceived of and developed from the perspective of digital-first distribution and with digital content being the core product as opposed to an ancillary component to a printed textbook.”
As publishers accommodate an increasing number of digital outputs, it’s important to restructure traditional, print-centric workflows. Of course, this isn’t to say that publishers have to abandon print altogether, but should instead reprioritize their efforts to reflect modern demands.
2. Treat your digital content like software.
“The difference between content and software development is practically nonexistent. We need to plan, design, develop and package our content following best practices of software development, and incorporate new roles such as instructional designers, UX and UI specialists into our existing expertise to produce the next generation of learning materials.”
In an earlier post, Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis entertained the idea of the publishing industry as the original software industry, which means that publishers can–and should–adopt many of the same practices found in software development. As Belfani mentions, treating your content like a product and deploying UX and UI strategies will only allow publishers to ship faster and build better content.
3. Abandon proprietary standards for open standards.
“[In 2015], there will be continued momentum toward open industry standards to enable interoperability and consistency across a variety of platforms, devices and distribution channels.”
HTML is the most widely supported open standard, which means that content backed by HTML will display across a variety of devices. On the flip side, if publishers are locked into proprietary formats, they’ll only be able to use that company’s tools and their content won’t be “future-proofed” for whatever HTML-supported device hits the market next.
4. Adopt technology that supports structured authoring…
“From my perspective, one of the most exciting and critical areas is the structured authoring space. This is where the power of technology meets the content and pedagogical expertise.”
Using HTML and other semantic markup languages, publishers can maintain a structured form of their content, which a number of devices can easily read and display. This gives publishers a single source of truth and the ability to take their content wherever they need it to go.
5. …but make sure that it doesn’t limit your creativity.
“In order to derive the greatest value from this intersection, however, we need to shield authors from technology that distracts them from their creative process, while enabling them to enhance their content through user friendly tools and interfaces.”
For example, it’s important to look for a technology that is powered by HMTL but also has WYSIWYG capabilities so that the authoring process feels as unrestricted as it does in Microsoft Word.
While we can never predict the future, tuning in to thought leaders and industry trends offers the best insight for what might come next. As more and more publishers adopt a digital-first workflow and the HTML standard, we’re excited to see what new content products will appear in 2015 and beyond.
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