Books That Are Websites - Worth More Than a Thought

At the Bookseller's FutureBook blog, Molly Flatt does an excellent job of summing up the incredible advantages and opportunities that browser-based books offer over books as apps and ebooks.

The post is definitely worth a read. In it, Flatt argues that books as apps lead to an unpleasant experience for readers, due to both the barrier of entry of downloading and the inconvenience and disruption of leaving the "walled garden" each time one clicks on a link.

Tizra's publisher clients would most likely agree with Flatt that apps are equally if not more painful for publishers: "From a publisher’s point of view, producing and distributing content via an app is a total pain - from creating complex InDesign files to working with frustrating external shopfronts such as the Apple Store. And it’s useless for SEO." 

Noting the advances by leaps and bounds that web design has made in recent years, Flatt states plainly that the web now "better caters for long-form storytelling".

Flatt then takes the argument for browser-based books beyond apps, to ebooks - which we concur are aptly described as "those clunky, unattractive, digital-but-not-native things that run within low-grade apps...Those things that have been crying out for a rethink for at least a decade...". 

As Flatt comments, "truly native browser books, redesigned fresh each time, offer exciting possibilites to authors and publishers in terms of design, interactive extras, data gathering and SEO". We at Tizra couldn't agree more!

Tizra's digital publishing software was built to allow publishers to easily create "books in browsers" from within their own websites. Publishers can control access to their content; optimize it for discoverability, sharing and sales; unbundle and remix it for new products; and incorporate multimedia. Plus, Tizra can easily be integrated into existing systems, offers automatic mobile content optimization, and provides built-in agile ecommerce tools.

For Tizra, books as websites have proven worth well beyond just a thought - and resulted in successful business models for our client publishers! To learn how Tizra can put your books into browsers, drop us a note, or sign up for a demo.

ACCESSE17 Conference Takeaways: Publications a recurring theme

The annual CESSE conference (Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives) has historically been focused on high-level strategy, so when we headed up to Quebec City for this year’s I wasn’t sure I’d be hearing a lot about publications.

But I was surprised at how many discussions—both in the sessions, and in the hallways—revolved around issues that publications really are central to.  The issues themselves are nothing new…
  • Recruiting, engaging and retaining members
  • Building organizational branding and identity
  • Finding effective value propositions for members and prospects at all points in their careers
  • And of course, adding revenue streams
What’s new is that we’re seeing more and better ways of using publication content to address them.  

For example, associations can recruit, engage and retain members by meeting readers where they are, making it easier to find publication content in Google and social media, and reducing the barriers to sampling, with metered paywalls, rather than strict access denieds.  

If you do it right, some of that traffic converts to publication sales and new memberships.  And more of it converts to awareness that your organization is the place to go for information that is both relevant AND credible.  

Another example: repurposing your publication content in continuing education, courses, leveraging existing materials to create offerings that deliver educational outcomes, and can be adapted to each waypoint in the member’s career journey.

A conversation I had on the flight up neatly captured the challenge.  The woman sitting next to me told me she’d recently started her career as an occupational therapist.  She’d had a student membership in her organization—the AOTA—while in school, but hadn’t renewed when that lapsed.  She clearly felt bad about it, and was aware of the research and other valuable contributions the organization made to her profession, but felt she could get the information she needed to do her job from colleagues, and yes, Google.  

Fortunately, AOTA recently started working with Tizra, and hopefully next time I happen to sit next to an occupational therapist, she’ll be reading one of their digital publications.

Association Publishers: Workers want your specialized professional development resources - are they optimized for discoverability?

A post over at the No Shelf Required portal highlighting a new whitepaper from Oxford University Press recently caught our eyeNavigating Research examines "how users seek contextual information and guidance for areas of scholarship as they conduct research, and how reference resources can support their work.”
Key findings of the paper,  include, among others (bolding ours):
  • recognition of ‘reference’ as a specific category is declining and users are not likely to identify ‘reference resources as those belonging to a distinct category
  • research needs of today’s researchers are moving away from basic factual information and terminology (for which free online sources are used)
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study retain appeal as a ‘bridge between introductory materials and specialized research publications'”
  • resources offering guidance to a field of study are also used to support work in interdisciplinary fields
  • use of reference sources relies on their visibility and discoverability; this is likely to remain a challenge for publishers, librarians, and researchers
Those bolded bullet points should stand out to association and mission-based publishers. It's not much of a leap from academics and librarians to professionals and workers -- all of these groups are searching for specialized information. 

As with researchers and librarians, workers can find more basic professional development resources online for free, but there is a growing need for more trust-worthy, in-depth and specialized information. And, as with researchers and librarians, ensuring workers can find that information depends upon visibility and discoverability.

Consider also, this post, "The Age of the Wisdom Worker Is (Still) Just Ahead". It is aimed at an audience of content marketers, but is highly relevant for association and mission-based publishers. In it, author Robert Rose discusses the trend of "knowledge workers" transitioning to "wisdom workers", and bemoans the failure of many businesses to take advantage of technology to meet the needs of these professionals who are "...distinguished not only by their ability to think with reason, but also with creativity, intuition, and emotional intelligence." He argues:
"The internet revolution has been realized at the expense of content’s value. Because of the ever-increasing ease with which content can be produced and distributed, businesses have viewed content as yet one more widget that can be made more efficient when measured by output".
Online publishers who focus on quantity over quality are going to be left behind. Information that is plentiful and free, but not at all useful to the knowledge/wisdom-seeker, has no value. Conversely, professional development resources designed to teach workers to better analyze information and apply their expertise become increasingly valuable. But, again - only if people can find them.

Is your content optimized for discoverability? Publishers employing Tizra's digital publishing platform have a built-in advantage in that they can easily make even their paywalled content discoverable via Google and other search engines. In addition, Tizra's digital publishing platform offers publishers the ability to: 
  •  improve their SEO through name based URLs, search engine friendly redirects, and special content formats tuned for search engine crawlers. 
  • take advantage of Tizra's powerful built-in search with relevancy ranking, preview snippets, contextual scope of options, linkable results, and hits that lead directly to relevant pages.
  • create customized search fields for specialized audiences and applications.
Professionals at every stage of their careers are searching for trust-worthy and specialized content online, and they're willing to pay for it. As association publishers, your content is considered trust-worthy and addresses the needs of professionals throughout their career paths. But, can those professionals find that valuable content when searching for solutions online? With the right digital publication tools, you can ensure your digital content is optimized for discoverability - better-serving both your membership and your bottom line.

Want to learn more about how Tizra can optimize your digital publications for search and discovery? Drop us a note, or sign up for a demo to see how.

Tizra On the Road: ACCESSE17

ACCESSE17 - the Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives - takes place in Québec City July 25 - 27, and Tizra will be there!

Well, our own Abe Dane will be there, facilitating a new session during Thursday’s breakfast called the Reciprocity Roundtable. Abe will be leading a discussion on the category of “relevance” - as in an association’s relevance to members, their professional development and career advancement.

Roundtable attendees can expect to learn the power and practice of reciprocity; find solutions to issues while focusing on contributing to others; build relationships and trust with colleagues; and learn about and help one another.

All that and breakfast, too!

You’ll find Abe and other early risers at 7am in QCC – Room 200B, with roundtable sessions beginning at 7:30 am, and ending at 8:30 am.

What Can Association Publishers Learn from Trade Publishers? Digital Marketing Take Aways

We recently came across the post, "Digital marketing scales and that could create new opportunities for capable publishers" by Mike Shatzkin of The Idea Logical Company

While written with trade publishers in mind, it has some good news and helpful takeaways for niche-market, mission-driven publishers -- especially those who are Tizra users.

The post puts a spotlight on publisher Open Road Integrated Media's success with discount pricing and vertically-focused digital marketing campaigns, and their continuing expansion as a marketing services provider for competitive publishers.

Open Road offers those competing publishers visibility for their niche titles in its highly target-marketed newsletters, reaching an ever increasing number of niche readers. In a win-win arrangement, those publishers reach more potential readers, and Open Road is able to share news about additional relevant titles - making their newsletters even more valuable for the readers. Open Road also benefits from additional revenue, and perhaps even more valuable - behavioral data points on what interests their audience and drives sales/conversions.

How is this relevant to Association Publishers?

Reading between the lines and omitting those bits that don't apply to a direct-to-consumer/member publisher, the post delivers some reassuring news for association publishers: vertical publishers with access to a niche market of eager readers are in an enviable position. As association publishers, your readers are members who have already accepted you as a trusted source of relevant content, and you have direct and exclusive access to them.

How can you apply some of the ideas presented in this post to your own publishing program? We've identified three key take-aways that mission-driven/association publishers might consider to bring greater value to members, build brand awareness, and boost the overall bottom line.

Price-Driven Promotions (for marketing, discovery)
  • Open Road's Early Bird Book newsletter highlights free and discounted titles, with data showing that bargain-hunting readers of Early Bird Books also buy related, non-discounted titles.  Because Tizra publishers can implement price changes and content access/configuration in real time, experimenting with price-driven promotions is easy. 
Among the possibilities: offering limited time or scarcity-based discounts; offering entire books or partial books for free; offering discounts to sub-sections of members; etc. The data you can gather about what promotions motivate purchases can be very valuable, and price-driven promotions can lead to purchases of relevant, full-priced content.
Content Marketing -- (for brand awareness, discovery, marketing)
  • "Sometimes adapting something from the book and other times creating original content of interest to the vertical audience" are other ways to optimize the value of your books/content. Sharing pieces of your premium content via newsletters, blog posts, etc., can drive readers (including interested non-members) back to you for other offerings - both content- and membership-related.
Marketing Services -- (for additional revenue stream, added member value)
  • As an association publisher, with exclusive access to a vertical audience, you might consider offering your marketing services (via your association's newsletters, blogs, events) to like-minded publishers who want to promote their titles to your membership. Vetting the titles ensures they meet your standards, and makes such a marketing service even more valuable to both participating publishers and your members.
Given that Tizra was developed for the broader publishing market, it's not surprising that our platform offers easy and cost effective ways to execute tactics like these.  Drop us a note, or sign up for a demo to see how.

Questions & Answers about the Tizra User Conference


Why has this gathering of digital publishing mavens expanded beyond its origins as a simple software user conference?  Following is a brief Q&A with Tizra's founders.


Why did decide to put on a user conference… and why have you kept at it?


We'd been to a ton of publishing conferences, and felt they were light on the central know-how needed to build direct connections with audiences. If you think about it, that's exactly what our customers do day in and day out, and we felt there was the opportunity to do something that would not only help people to use Tizra more effectively, but would help them to be better publishers.

So we put the idea out there and got a very encouraging response. More important, the reviews AFTER the first conference were unanimously positive. Every single person who went said they’d do it again.

In the second year, more than twice as many organizations participated, and we got similar reviews. That told us it wasn’t a fluke. So now the question is How do we build on this? There’s a real, living community here, and we’re excited about exploring how we can make it more energetic, interesting, and able to deliver insight and value to its members.

What are the hot topics that you’re looking forward to seeing on the agenda this year? 


By far the best thing about past conferences have been the surprises. Customers are out there doing things that we never expected, which is hugely exciting, because it means that the potential of Tizra isn’t bounded by our own imaginations. Obviously, we don’t know what this year’s surprises will be, but two things we know have a lot of energy behind them already are XML and integration. 

What’s significant about XML is that it offers the opportunity to create a truly digital-native user experience, including reflowable text that’s much easier to optimize for mobile devices. It also frees you from the constraints of the printed page when it comes to content remixing. Basically you can create whatever size chunks you want and you can use all the most modern web tools to enhance the on-screen look and layout. 

XML is particularly significant for Tizra customers because it not only puts them in a position to create really cutting edge user experiences, but they don’t have to write off older fixed layout content to do so. With XML capabilities added to Tizra’s existing PDF delivery, you can combine old and new publications in whatever ways make sense for your readers, without worrying about what kinds of production processes were used for each.

Integration is the other big area. These days it's going way beyond single sign-on. We’re seeing integrations with learning management, production workflow, search, ecommerce and web content management systems. As our APIs grow, Tizra is becoming part of a broader fabric of solutions that give users the freedom to combine software from different vendors with much less concern about the kinds of incompatibilities that used to lock them in. We’re trying to make Tizra as open as possible to this kind of adaptation, and expect to have some exciting new work to show. Again, it opens up the possibility for all kinds of new surprises.

Can you tell us about the newly added ½-Day pre-conference Tizra Developer’s Intensive?


While we’ve always taken pride in how much Tizra empowers non-technical users, the truth is it puts even more power in the hands of people who have certain technical skills. Last year, a number of participants asked not just for a longer conference, but for more hands-on time that would help participants build new features and capabilities that would change how they published in deeper ways. This really requires some focused, peer-to-peer time, where developers can dig in, without fear that they’re leaving everyone else out. 

So this year, we’re going to lead into Tuesday’s plenary session with a smaller gathering the afternoon before, which we plan to focus on things like API applications, front-end coding techniques, and working with XML. The goal will be for participants to go home not only with ideas, but with sample code and new skills they can put to work immediately. 

Then the whole group will gather for a great dinner, same as last year. A great warm-up to the general session. 


What are the benefits to customers who attend the TUG conference?


Well, of course, you’ll learn more about where Tizra is headed and how to get more out of the platform, but that’s actually a comparatively small part of the program. The big benefits really come from the opportunity to compare notes with colleagues across publishing disciplines and from the concrete “how-tos” that combine an understanding of real publishing challenges and deep knowledge of the opportunities technology can create. Expect to come out with an updated awareness of best practices in the fast-changing world of digital publishing, new skills and strategies to help you do great work, and with a recharged sense of confidence and focus based on what you’ve learned.




Case Study: ABC-CLIO Upgrades to a Mobile-First eBook Site... While Keeping an Eye on Value


“Tizra’s support for cutting-edge web design was a key factor in our decision. They enabled us to achieve a modern, mobile-first user experience that fits our profile as a technology leader.”
--Troy Martin, VP Operations, ABC-CLIO
Download the Case Study

Tizra API's enabled complex, faceted search.
With more than 8,000 eBooks already published, and a steady flow of 30-40 new releases every month, ABC-CLIO was well established as a leader in digital publishing. But their homegrown eBook platform wasn't keeping pace. They knew they were in a race to meet increasingly high user expectations, particularly as content consumption shifted to tablets and mobile devices.

Initially, they considered leveraging their own outstanding in-house technology team to rebuild the site, but careful financial analysis revealed they'd get better value if they went outside.

After surveying a field of 13 vendors they decided on Tizra.  Key factors included...
  • Support for advanced, mobile-first design using the latest responsive frameworks and techqniques.
  • High-performance, easy-to-use search, with the ability to filter large numbers of results.
  • Easily customized interfaces that marketing and editorial staff could update without help.
  • Single sign-on integration, enabling ABC-CLIO to leverage existing infrastructure and providing users with the ability to access all ABC-CLIO products seamlessly with one set of credentials.
  • Ability to automate content loading and updates from their existing distribution partner (Ingram CoreSource).
  • A preview widget so they could embed samples from their eBooks in their online catalog and other web pages.
Tizra's deployment team collaborated closely with ABC-CLIO to ensure the Tizra platform was configured and branded to ABC-CLIO requirements. Now live, the new site is a seamless extension of ABC-CLIO's brand identity and a faithful reflection of their reputation for technology leadership.

 “I’m very happy with where we ended up,” says Martin. “Tizra enabled us to take leaps forward in meeting our users’ high expectations.”

Want to learn more? Read the full case study.