Lessons from a Book's Simultaneous Publication in Print and on the Web

Stephen Smith (Zondervan)
Location: Chelsea-Gotham (7th Floor) Level:

In late 2008, Crossway Books published, in both print and web formats, its ESV Study Bible after three years of work. From the beginning, it was planned as a unified print and digital launch.

This presentation walks you through how we planned and executed the unified launch, with a particular focus on how the digital launch benefited both the product and the entire organization.

The presentation will discuss:

  • How involving our digital publishing team early in the editorial process improved the workflow of both the print and digital teams while producing a superior product.
  • How we integrated ethnographic research into our work.
  • How hacking InDesign saved us tens of thousands of dollars in typesetting costs—and how the tools we developed for this project have cut costs across our publishing program.
  • How we tagged our files with limited semantics to give us future flexibility, and how we couldn’t have done it without Wikipedia.
  • How our launch strategy used blogs and word of mouth as the primary way to generate interest online, selling over 6,000 units directly to consumers through our website months before publication.
  • How the business model we chose (free online access with print purchase) furthers our organization’s mission and impacts our bottom line.
  • Why open sourcing some the innovative portions of our code meant fewer bugs and a better user experience—not to mention using open source software to develop, host, and manage the digital launch.
  • How we had to scale back some of our plans after running into feasibility constraints—and how management became persuaded that cutting back was actually a good thing.
  • Why publishing on the web in HTML and other open standards is the future for a mass audience rather than proprietary software.
  • How Amazon’s web services (EC2, S3) let us experiment quickly and cheaply and changed how we thought about web infrastructure.
  • How we’re integrating what we learned from this project into future ventures.

Stephen Smith


Stephen Smith is Director of Information Services for Crossway Books, a not-for-profit publisher of religious books and the ESV Bible.

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  • Adobe Systems, Inc.
  • codeMantra
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  • DPCI
  • Innodata Isogen, Inc.
  • LibreDigital
  • Lulu
  • Malloy
  • Mark Logic
  • Media Services Group
  • Quark, Inc.
  • ReadHowYouWant
  • RSuite
  • Safari Books Online
  • Smashwords, Inc.
  • Sterling Commerce
  • Verso Digital

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