imageHere’s a jog to consider attending the Jan. 13 forum in New York called StartwithXML. Hachette USA CEO David Young and Cengage SVP Ken Brooks will be among the speakers. Registration information is here.

The right mix of tech and workflow matters immensely, as I know all too well  as a Twilight Times Books author. Ever try correcting a book that’ll appear on paper and in a bunch of e-forms? Oh, the fun of dealing with lost paragraph breaks and the like! Here’s to the day when ePub is truly the norm!

Publishers urgently needs to be able to adopt out good workflows for efficient handling of both P and E. I still don’t think they have the right tools,  at least not the small  ones—the reason I’m pushing the ePubWriter idea. But even now, many publishers would be well off using XML files as masters. Publishers might check out the progress of product called Prince, which can turn XML into PDF. See related video.

While the XML forum will cover other topics such as tagging, the general question of workflow is especially meaningful to me.

Also of interest: StartwithXML-related posts on the O’Reilly site from Laura Dawson, Mike Shatzkin and Andrew Savikas.


  1. David, I don’t know where you find all these programs but you sure can find them. Prince might be a good product (I’ve no personal knowledge of it) but its pretty high priced for a product that simply creates PDFs — a “pro” license runs $495.

    I agree that a better workflow is needed but I don’t see how one can be imposed. There are thousands of authors working on their manuscripts without a publishing contract. How do you get them to adopt and — more importantly — invest the time to learn a non-standard word processing program? How do you get the thousands of editors (last count I saw from the Census Bureau was more than 100,000 editors in the U.S. alone) to buy and learn a non-standard word processing program, especially when publishers are cutting pay to editors?

    Then how do you get all the inhouse folk to learn and get up to speed on these non-standard programs? Plus the IT department, plus, plus, plus.

    And say what you will about how “easy” XML is, it really isn’t all that easy for most people. Most long-term users of Word do not know how to write a simple macro, yet you want them to learn to start the workflow in XML.

    The current system is far from the most efficient in a purely workflow manner, but once you start adding in all the variables, it is probably the best system currently available.

  2. Thanks, Rich, but I said “check the progress” of Prince. I didn’t say it was an all-in-one solution, or that it’s for all: it just is something to consider in certain instances. It no ePub Writer.

    As for XML in the hands of writers, yes, I’m aware of all the complexities. But a tool with the right interface could help them come up with easier-to-process files than the current apps do.

    Maybe I’m aiming too high, but I want the tool to offer WYSIWYG capabilities for PDF, while it displays XML in fine style even if nothing can be “final” in the world of reflowable formats.

    The issue of nonstandard programs? Well, if ePubWriter is good enough, it will become the standard.

    In a world where cellphones could help bring books within convenient reach of billions and make it easier for local publishers to start up, ePubWrite definitely could make a difference.

    Happy holidays,

  3. Awesome discovery, Mike. Even if eCub isn’t optimal and lacks the PDF component I’m hoping for, it’s a START in getting more people interested in coding for ePub creation. And congrats on choosing that particular book for digitization. Can’t wait to point to it.

    (with apologies for being behind on his correspondence with you and others)

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