The Well-Formed Document

Articles by publishing professionals.

David Alan Rech

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

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David Alan Rech

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

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David Alan Rech

Must Publishers’ Roles Be Diminished?

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

On October 16, 2011, another headline appeared about authors bypassing traditional publishers.* It seems that publishers are becoming redundant. Obsolescence is always a threat.

Somehow, with the apparent change in the publishing world, we have lost confidence in what we do. We have abdicated our roles to those outside our organization: technology developers, literary agents, and even booksellers. Instead of understanding technology and the role we can play in crafting better books, we have dug

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David Alan Rech

Proofing and Quality: Part 2

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

Proofing and quality assurance are two distinct tasks, as we discussed previously, and we capitalize on their value through feedback. We’d like to share some things we have developed to improve the quality of our work.

Carefully vetting a project and executing a project launch are helpful. Vetting is a close examination of a project’s source materials and task list against specifications established for the project. In a project launch, we meet to inform each person involved in the project about

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David Alan Rech

Proofing and Quality: Part 1

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

The editorial stage of publishing production includes two steps designed to find and fix errors: copyediting and proofing. Historically, proofing meant reading typeset pages against an approved manuscript to find discrepancies between the two; nowadays, proofreaders read the proof pages without literally checking them against the manuscript. Whichever way one does proofing, there are flaws in the process, which raises the issue of quality.

Quality assurance and quality control are two parts of a

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David Alan Rech

Lessons from Allentown: Single-Skilled Staff

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

When considering the training and work assignments of employees, a tension exists between specialisation and generalisation. On one hand, it is clear that having well-rounded staff members improves publications. On the other hand, a person who specialises in one thing tends to be fast at the tasks she undertakes.

Given the price pressure in this economy, it may seem best to have your staff engaged in single tasks that each person performs quickly. Since 2004, Scribe has been gathering data on internal

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David Alan Rech

Positive Economic Outlook for Publishers

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

A recent David Brooks column in the NY Times, and a popular YouTube video, highlight the economic growth of the world.

We in the publishing industry know this. We are aware of the popularity of books during times of economic growth and social transition. During the Industrial Revolution and the period after World War II, publishing took off. In both cases, you had a group of people who wished to climb from their status and believed that education and learning were the keys to get there. Books helped

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David Alan Rech

Bad ePub? Blame Automation!

By David Alan Rech of Scribe Inc.

In the posting of December 16, 2010, we discussed reliance on the PDF as a source for e-book development. We recommended using the typesetter (or mechanics) files as the source for your e-book development. But mere reliance on automation to produce ePub files can still result in bad ePubs!

Many naively believe that the ePub generator from InDesign will automatically create e-book files. The promise is that you can go from InDesign directly into ePub format, not to mention a variety of XML formats

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