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Showing posts from 2011

Use Case: Delivering Digital Teaching Materials Quickly and Securely

We've been talking a lot about features lately.  Now, how to use some of them in real life.

Say you're a publisher of textbooks or other teaching materials.  You're good at selling to schools, but you need an efficient and secure way to get digital products into the hands of students after the sale.  Tizra gives you a number of ways to get this done (in addition to built-in ecommerce for self-serve credit card sales), but today we'll focus on a new option built around the batch account loader, which makes it as simple as copy and paste.  Note that second and third steps below only need to be done the first time you set up…

1. Add and Tag Users
Use the new batch account loader to load and tag email addresses for the students who should have access (if you don't have emails, there are other options we'll cover in future posts).  Pick a tag that's short and easy to remember.  For example, if you want to arrange access to a book called Knowledge 101 during the …

More Eggs in More Baskets: How the AWS Outage Made Us Stronger

Like a lot of web companies, we learned some hard lessons from the Amazon Web Services outage of a few weeks ago.   We didn't lose a single byte of data, but we resolved never again to put one service provider—no matter how large and diversified—in a position where its failure could cause a serious interruption in service for our customers.

As promised, we 've now finished setting up automated data backup and redundant server infrastructure in facilities maintained by a completely separate company: Softlayer Technologies.  Like AWS, Softlayer maintains the high security and reliability standards we require, including SAS 70 Type II Certification and PCI DSS Compliance.  And their Texas location adds geographic diversity to the Virginia and California regions Amazon gives us access to.

This is in no way the end of our efforts to improve reliability and security.  We'll keep refining backup, failover and recovery processes to ensure not only that our customers' data is s…

Time to Fire the Sysadmin? What We're Doing About the AWS Outage

The downtime brought about by the massive failure at Amazon Web Services has now agonizingly stretched well into a second day, causing us to question practically everything we thought we knew about hosting web applications.

Lurking behind it all is the nagging anxiety that maybe we should go back to a simpler time, when men were men, and ran their own machine rooms.  Then come the flashbacks, and we remember what that was really like.  All it took was a careless backhoe operator…

The truth is that for all the pain and, yes, embarrassment, the answer is not to turn back the clock.  The answer is, as it almost always is in these situations, to use this experience to build something better.  Something that leverages the best of the new tools, with a deeper understanding of their risks.

Another way to put it: Don't fire the sysadmin while he's trying to fix the servers.  Keep cool and get the crisis resolved, then do a full post-mortem to squeeze every drop of learning you can fr…

Feature Frenzy #3: Quickly Loading & Tagging User Accounts with the Batch Loader

Continuing the Feature Frenzy series, today we'll introduce the new account batch loader, which provides a simple way to create and tag user accounts on Tizra hosted sites.  Who cares?  Anyone who wants to do things like...
Sell content via email promotions — The loader lets you quickly add members of your mailing list, and give them access to special deals, free samples, etc.Deliver content in bulk to schools, companies, etc. — Use the loader to fulfill large numbers of orders quickly when selling through an existing sales team or other offline method.Manage "members only" access — The loader provides a quick, simple alternative to single sign-on integration, helping associations and other groups keep member lists up-to-date.We'll detail some sample applications in upcoming posts, but first, the basics: To use the batch loader, just go to the "USERS" area in the Tizra Control Panel, then click the "Upload" button down at the bottom of the page.  A…

Feature Frenzy #2: Giving It Away (Strategically) with Sampling Licenses

Continuing the Sisyphean task of trying to blog as fast as Tizra is upgraded, today's Feature Frenzy covers the new Sampling License, which as the name suggests, makes it much easier to give away precisely those chunks of content that advance your marketing mission...while keeping the rest behind the paywall or otherwise off limits.

The sampling license is ideal for promotional strategies like...

Using one content format to promote another — Say you want users to have free access to a web-only version of your content, but to charge them for the convenience of a version they can download, print, or load into their iPad or other ereader.  Or maybe you want to charge for video, or other multimedia extras.Metered paywall — Gives users free rein to sample whatever parts of your content interest them, but limits the total number of pages they can view.  With the Sampling License, you can achieve an effect similar to what publications like the The New York Times are planning (presumably o…

Sites that Speak Volumes: Recent Launches by Consumer Reports, TRB, Davis & Columbia

Already, it's clear 2011 is going to be different.  Holiday shoppers gorged on ereaders, iPads and smart phones.  And after years of talk, digital content sales are actually skyrocketing the way the pundits said they would.

We're seeing the results in a whole new level of action and ambition from our customers.  They're pushing beyond ebooks to create digital destinations that combine anything from conference video to consumer editorial to classroom PowerPoint slides.

As you'll see below, the sites speak for  themselves.  Our customers are building their brands and achieving their goals, while teaching us new things every day!

Consumer Reports

http://www.healthspecialreports.org Consumer Reports Health was looking for a way to market a series of downloadable reports providing in-depth, unbiased information.  Working with Tizra, they succeeded in launching a custom-tailored e-commerce portal within weeks.  Tizra provided design and production services, so Consumer Reports…

Customer Coolness: Selling Ebooks by the Chapter, Download & Web Subscription All at Once

Sometimes a customer uses our software so well all we can do is gape and point.  (Actually, it's been happening quite a lot lately.)  Example: The way Columbia University Press has neatly exploited Tizra features to turn simple PDF files into a whole range of ebook products, including...
Web-only subscriptions of various durations.Full book download/web combos.Single chapter download/web combos. A reader who just wants to answer quick questions about, say, how the concept of Strategic Innovation applies to Bill Gates, could just buy a chapter and browse it immediately online.  Someone with a deep interest in the topic could buy the right to download the whole book, load it into their ereader and take it with them on the road.

Tizra's supported these kinds of options—and a lot of others—for some time, but it takes design and copywriting flare to present them in ways users can quickly make sense of.  We think the paywall page below does it really nicely.
Tizra's dynamic offer…

Feature Frenzy #1: The Cure for Post-Publication Panic

Tizra isn't the same software it was a year ago. Or even a month ago. In this series, we'll outline a few recent upgrades that are making our software more useful and valuable all the time. Upcoming posts:
Promoting your content with flexible sampling licenses. Quickly creating and tagging user accounts with the new batch loader. Tailoring advanced search with custom fields. Applying and updating access and sales terms across large numbers of documents, or document subsections, with the new content lists. Single Sign On integration with popular association management software. Customizing user profiles to gather key demographic details.Today: Quick fixes and updates with new publishing options.
Ever have post-publication panic…that sudden chill when you catch an error right after clicking "Publish to Live"? Fixing these slips has always been pretty easy with Tizra, but now it's quicker and your users need never know it happened…even if you goofed on a LARGE scal…