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Publishing Platforms, XML Workflows and Good Metadata Management: Decoding the Essentials for a Successful Publisher

Jo Bottrill, MD, Newgen Publishing UK, talks about the importance of an online platform in today’s digital landscape, the importance of metadata, and the opportunities and challenges that publishers will have to brace for. 

Why should businesses think about investing in publishing platforms, and what do they do to make businesses more effective?

Publishing platforms enable publishers to make their content available online and publish them digitally. They support publishers in gaining direct relationships with their customers rather than selling their digital content through an aggregator or a distributor. If publishers take control of the process themselves and build or buy their platform, then they can avail more flexibility in selling their content. These platforms help publishers to sell their content by chapters, experiment with different media, sell rich and enhanced e-books with embedded audio, video, and interactive features.

How important is XML these days and how do publishers make the most of it?

If any publisher, large or small, is considering selling their content through a digital platform similar to Nova that Newgen has developed, adopting an XML workflow is vital. It gives publishers much more flexibility in repurposing content, revising, and selling it in new ways.

It is important to understand what you want to achieve in an XML workflow. The publishing industry is changing, and there is a constant demand for new features and requirements. One such requirement is to make the content accessible. Publishers who are already capturing their content in XML format have an advantage. They can enable these new features much more easily.

What are some top tips for everyone who wants to understand the importance of metadata?

Metadata is the lifeblood of the supply chain. It is vital that the content and the products that we are producing in the industry are discoverable and increasingly accessible. There are lots of different standards that you can attain when it comes to metadata. 

Again, with an XML workflow, it does not need to be as complicated or challenging as it may sound. Your system can support publishers, again large or small, in organizing their data and being able to set up feeds automatically out to the supply chain to make sure that the content is discoverable. 

So, start with a system that could be quite accessible, not necessarily hugely expensive, but one that can take a lot of the pain and stress out of trying to organize data. You might find that a vendor has advice that they could offer you. Talk to your vendor and if you are working with publishing service providers such as Newgen, they will be able to advise you. If it’s not your vendor, talk to IPG (Independent Publishers Group). The IPG members are always very happy to help and are periodically organizing conferences and sessions around metadata. The Book Industry Communication (BIC) group has a lot of valuable information and runs training courses about metadata. So asking for help, I think, is a good place to start, and even if it is a competition, you will be surprised how helpful people can be. 

So, make a start, look at systems, and get lots of support and help. It does not need to be difficult. 

What do you think of the main opportunities and challenges in these areas over the next few months?

There are always lots of opportunities we can look forward to. I will start with some challenges. 

Lots of supply chain challenges are still out there. Getting books manufactured in various places around the world has become increasingly challenging. And so is production. Making sure all formats are delivered on time may require weeks and months of planning.

Certainly, when it comes to academic and reference open access, it continues to be a challenge and an opportunity. 

Accessibility is another key challenge and an opportunity. We‘ve got the European Accessibility Directive to be enforced by July 2025. Whether it’s a website or content you are selling online, it needs to be fully accessible by 2025 if you are going to be selling content in the European Union and elsewhere in the world. So that is a huge challenge for publishers. It is a massive opportunity as well. 

So, when we adopt these workflows, we are waking up new markets and making sure that our content is accessible to everyone and they might want to read it. I think it’s a good opportunity for us to make sure that we have got all of our content organized in the right way.

Look again at the workflow and have them organized, whether it’s metadata or actual published content. I think it’s a huge opportunity internationally as well.

If you would like to know more about Nova, the digital publishing platform that Newgen has developed, email, or the publishing services it offers, take a look at our website at

Credits: This interview was produced and published as a podcast by the Independent Publishers Guild, the UK’s largest association of publishers. To access the full catalogue of podcasts, visit the Libsyn Directory.


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