The Well-Formed Document

Articles by publishing professionals

The Elegance of Templates

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Publishers have been resistant to use templates in publications, believing them to limit creativity and restrict designs. In fact, using templates gives publishers a wider range of flexibility while keeping their workflow well-formed and consistent.

In publishing, we essentially use two types of templates: editing and typesetting. Editing templates are clearly of value. They contain the elements necessary for copyeditors to communicate. Applying styles through templates is more efficient than any

Read more

Publishing Industry Standards

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

When faced with a crisis in quality, the Japanese developed standards and best practices. The changing electronics world created a condition in which it was insufficient for customers to dictate their wishes. As technologies rapidly developed, the need to adjust specifications without sacrificing quality became evident.

Output requirements and the supplies needed were changing, thus the standards impacted every process along the supply chain. Manufacturers and vendors sat on boards and worked to

Read more

The Importance of Instructions: The Printed Circuit Board

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

During the 1950s, electronics manufacturers had to overcome problems before they could reliably mass-produce new, up-and-coming products. They experienced rapidly shifting standards, an expanding array of products, difficulty outsourcing in a scalable fashion, unreliable vendors, and inconsistent quality.

Despite these obstacles, the first transistor radio hit the consumer market on October 18, 1954. Shortly thereafter, the Japanese emerged as the dominant force in the electronics market, with Sony

Read more

Understand XML First

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

It is encouraging that publishers are discussing XML-first strategies. Having a structured publication that you can easily convert from one form to another is essential for publishers’ survival.

Augmenting our publications with metadata and semantic tagging is also helpful. Yet XML-first strategies are still being confused with the technical process of applying left and right angle brackets to content. The fact that many still think that books must be "tagged" in order to be XML is problematic.

Read more

E-book First and Other Publishing Strategies

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

With the growing popularity of e-books, questionable profitability in print book development, changes in publicity, and new review methodologies, almost every publisher is considering a variety of strategies for book publishing.

Some publishers are developing e-books first. If the e-book sells well and seems to justify the cost of a print run, then they develop the print version. Others are developing selected books only as e-books. These books are created as either separate titles, elements of

Read more

A New Game in Books?

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Right now, it looks like iPad and Kindle are leading the way in e-book tablet development. There are other platforms that have a lot of functionality, but none really seem to be players in this market. If, however, you examine the world of art and other developments in interactive technology, gaming technology seems to be gaining headway in the race to develop new ways to receive and enjoy various forms of media and entertainment. What if one of the gaming technologies emerges as the method by which

Read more

Counting the Money

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

We are in the publishing business to produce books. The measure of our success is whether we are efficiently producing high-quality books that meet our customers’ demands. Money is the benefit that results from our efforts; it is not the product.

For many executives, money provides an objective measure for performance; it serves as the basis of how they are evaluated by their board, it is the yardstick for their decision making, and it is how they reward employees (i.e., the more profits you generate

Read more

Dealing with Shapelessness

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Publishers often find themselves perplexed because they cannot put their finger on exactly what is wrong, though they know things are not right. This, cultural anthropologist Grant McCracken tells us, is evidence of what he calls the shapeless problem. The biggest problem facing organisations is their inability to define the problems they face.

Often their troubles actually result from a cumulation of many disparate small things, none of which in itself could bring an organization to a standstill

Read more