Toward an All-digital Workflow

Steve Kotrch (Simon & Schuster)
General New York East
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At Simon & Schuster we’re taking steps toward building all-digital workflows. A recent initiative involving covers begins with Editorial collecting praise quotes in an on-line database. When it comes time to
write copy for the book cover/jacket, they pull up a form in their
browser, inject quotes onto different parts of the cover and write copy
for other parts. Once the copy has been approved, the designer is sent an
email with a link that allows him/her to download an InDesign file with
all the copy, in a generic font, distributed on the various parts of the
cover: front, back, flaps, etc. He/she then proceeds to design the cover.
We are planning to use Acrobat for circulating the cover for approvals
digitally. Currently this is done on paper, and the designer is
responsible for making any text changes on the cover.
The outside front cover is then captured digitally and fed out to the
internet, as it has been for years. But now the entire cover layout is
then turned back into XML so that, for example, the description can be
automatically extracted and distributed.

The benefits of this initiative are:

  1. Copy is now available from a single source; before it was delivered piecemeal.
  2. Choice of template— size, format— is now totally simplified.
  3. We automatically capture the final, authorized description of the book for use on our website, on
    Amazon, and other book sites, in a more timely manner. This used to be done manually by freelancers.
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Steve Kotrch

Simon & Schuster

Currently Steve Kotrch is Director of Publishing Technology for Simon & Schuster. He is responsible for creating and supporting all systems having to do with design and editorial, and the company’s digital asset management system. He recently designed a system that takes data from S&S’s product database, uses XML to create book cover layouts in InDesign, and re-ingests certain text with any changes on those layouts back into the database for distribution over the internet.
Steve has been involved for over 20 years in various kinds of publishing: of not only consumer books, but reference and elementary and high-school texts; in publishing financial newsletters, magazines and major retail catalogs. He has been involved with the publishing of ebooks since 1994.

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Steve Kotrch
02/16/2011 8:52am EST

Good question. The ML database pulls files from the Chuckwalla DAMS. Chuckwalla shares a table with our product database. Both are SQL Server and .net based


Eric Michie
02/16/2011 6:16am EST

Very interesting. This was helpful. What kind of DAM do you use and are you linked to your MarkLogic databases with it?

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Steve Kotrch
02/11/2011 4:06am EST

Birkir The XML-based workflow that I’m describing-actually more than one-do not have a MathML component. S&S is a trade publisher, not scientific, technical or educational. We use XML to create book covers, not interiors, and to provide marketing and sales-support material. My point in the talk is that “digital workflow” encompasses much more than manuscript prep. No, we don’t use MathML in any book interiors either. It is no feasible in our line of business.

Birkir Gunnarsson
02/10/2011 11:30am EST


I am a blind programmer/financial analyst, currently working with Design Science on math accessibility.

I am just curious if your xml-based work flow includes MathML for mathematical notations and objects, or whether these are still represented in text as pictures. This has major accessibility implications for disabled computer users. Certainly it is still a bit of a fringe topic, but I would be curious about your thoughts on this, either as a note in the presentation,, on here, or in a face to face chat at the conference. Looking forward to meeting you and seeing this lecture. Thanks -Birkir

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