Sakshi Jain is an Asst. Editor at the Digital Media Dept. in Dorling Kindersley, part of the newly merged Penguin Random House. She is into publishing eBooks in various formats; developing Apps and producing digital content for websites. Working for more than three years at this place, she happily affirms there’s never been a dull day. She’s been working on all sorts of reference guides and especially travel-guides. She will be a speaker at Publishing Next ’13, which will be held on the 20th and 21st of September, 2013. Before the conference we (PN) however got her (SJ) to share her thoughts.
PN: Could you tell us about your experience as the Asst. Editor or Techno Editor as you are fondly called at the Digital Media Dept. in Dorling Kindersley, part of the newly merged Penguin Random House?
SJ: Here at DMD there is more to being an Editor (or Techno Editor) than the conventional role of correcting language and structure of the text. That of course is a part of the job but we are expected to be more technically inclined, comfortable with using and experimenting new software and technical language (XML, HTML etc). We prepare a single title to be output or displayed on different platforms like Website, iPad, Kindle, Samsung tablets, Sony reader etc. This implies taking care of different specifications – like design, color, technicality/functionality, text structure, layout, features – not to forget the client specific requirements. While a print book might be done & wrapped up once and for all, an eBook may keep evolving according to needs and updates. The digital media content is supposed to be updated at all points of time and must include latest happenings in and around the topic. In this respect eBooks are very different and challenging from the printed ones.
I will explain this with a few examples. In 2012, there was a certain book about London which has been in print for around two years (also its eBook) – now, at the time of London Olympics we modified its content in the eBook to provide details about the sporting events – their venue, a day-by-day guide, places to stay etc – all personalized for somebody visiting only for duration of the event.
Also, it is much easier to incorporate any revisions in an eBook as compared to print ones – let’s say add a phone no. here or an address there – it will be a costly and time consuming affair to send a whole book for reprint while it’s just a matter of days when a rectified/revised eBook can be re-launched. Not just additions, over period of time, some of the content loses the relevance. The text can be removed/replaced accordingly. Also, to make it cost effective – chapters can be pulled out and customized from one country guide to a city/state guide. For instance a travel guide to India in digital format might cost about 400 – 500 Rs and even more in print – however in the digital format we’ll have freedom to pull out one chapter, say Delhi and an make eBook out of it on the go (which will not cost more than 50Rs).
There are many such examples where the freedom to play around with text and its design gives us the extra edge over print books – and consequently some enviable licensing deals with various segments where content is the key product. DMD is a truly evolving one.
PN: Tell us more about your initiation into publishing and how you came to be associated with digital publishing.
SJ: The foundation was laid when I chose to pursue MA in English & Communication Studies from GGSIPU (MAECS) over the traditional MA English – which is a literature heavy course. MAECS gave us a healthy mix of Literature + Language/Writing + Communication + Media studies + ICT and others. I did an internship at Macmillan India during the summer vacation of my final year; and this was the launch pad to my career under the able-guidance of Ms. Deepa Nair. Once I completed my course and started looking for a full time job, I considered options from a few well known companies in conventional editorial role; but after much contemplation I selected my current position as an editor at Digital Media Dept. at DK. The biggest reason was, obviously, that the digital is the future and also DK is one of the world’s best reference guides publisher. The books are charming, captivating, and awe-inspiring in one look, be it the design, the content, or the quality – there is no match to a DK guide. Another reason (and a personal one) for choosing DK was that I had already worked on school books at Macmillan and wished to experiment with reference and travel guides which are of great interest to me.
PN: You firmly believe in ‘All things digital’ being the future, not just for publishing but also for eLearning on the whole. What has inspired you to believe so?
SJ: Yes, I have an unshakable belief in everything going digital in the present and near future. The books are evolving into eBooks; traditional teaching/training methods are being replaced by the digital or electronically enabled classrooms; online banking is spreading roots in every nook and corner of the world making cash transactions obsolete; and online shopping is now the customer’s first choice. In fact I find it impossible to imagine a single day where I’ve not used the electronic medium in one or other situation.
So, in such a scenario it will be somewhat naive to doubt that digital books and eLearning hold the future; especially in a vast country like India. E- Learning is not only cost effective, it is far more engaging and its reach is unfathomable. For instance – it might not be possible for qualified teachers to reach each and every village, but if a session can be broadcast (with some initial investment), quality education will be easy accessible to every child. Same is the case for distance education or satellite classes. Even in MNCs these days ILT and WBTs are used to train staff on new software and techniques instead of arranging for time consuming and expensive training sessions.
Also, with the advent of digital media, there is a greater sense of freedom in terms of timings. Be it working flexibly, or taking courses at your preferred time or just utilizing your spare time, digital on a whole has made every second count.
Today, the penetration of eBooks in India is a fraction as compared to the rest of the world, and thus it holds a promising future, especially with the boom in e-Commerce and PDAs business.
Introduction of a special eBook section on Flipkart, launch of Amazon India are the opportunities Indian consumer will explore and signs that it will steadily be more receptive to eBooks.