Canadian book publishers adopt system to manage digital files

As media giants such as Google put thousands of books online, publishers are moving to keep up with the times.

Gibson Publishing Connections announced Wednesday that it has licensed its codeMantra Collection Point system for managing and distributing metadata — and publishers such as UBC Press are already trying out the system in hopes of better managing their titles.

The University of British Columbia Press decided to test out Collection Point because it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage its vast collection of digital files. “For a long time, we were keeping them on CD media, and we filled enormous numbers of drawers with them and we tried moving them to some other platforms such as portable hard drives, but there’s a lot of management issues around it. Retrieving stuff is not all that simple — there’s a lot of cataloguing,” said UBC Press director Peter Milroy. The system was also costly, he said.

Distribution of electronic files was also difficult since it was difficult and costly to retrieve them.

“We think this is probably a good solution. At a cost of $10 a title a year, we can keep a number of files associated with a title and use them for a number of purposes — for reprints or promotional purposes or for the delivery of e-book versions of our books. It has a means by which we can allow (others) to access the FTP site.”

Another benefit is that UBC Press now has all of its file in a location that is redundant and backed up, Milroy said.

McGill-Queens University Press is also trying Collection Point for a year. It was looking for a way to both manage its titles and convert its books to electronic version, and with Collection Point, it could do both.

“Beforehand we were doing very little exploitation of our electronic and digital material. Part of it was we didn’t have a management system for it, and we were still in the print PDF stage and hadn’t moved to converting our material to digital,” said Arden Ford, business manager at McGill-Queens Unviersity Press. It had about 1,500 titles that it wanted to make available to digital libraries such as Google and Ebrary – Canadian Electronic Library.

Collection Point, codeMantra’s combination conversion and management service, seemed “ideal,” Ford said. McGill-Queens had considered creating its own in-house solution but decided it didn’t have the internal resources to achieve the level of sophistication it wanted.

While companies such as Google are putting out-of-copyright material online, there is a growing demand for up-to-date e-books, said Bob Gibson, president of Gibson Publishing Connections.

Publishers don’t have the utilities and tools to build online libraries. Collection Point “allows them to take their print assets and release them in a digital environment,” Gibson said.

The data included in Collection Point would be metadata about books, such as author, title and subject. The data resides on an FTP server and can be accessed either internally by publishers or externally by their partners and customers.

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