Despite the emergence, over the past few decades, of elaborate and powerful new forms of digital communication, the scholarly publishing industry is still struggling to fully realize the benefits of digital workflows. With growing demands for increased speed to publication and cost savings, publishers continue to face challenges imposed by outmoded and unwieldy systems designed for print-centric workflow. No place is this more evident than in the realm of book production.
In an effort to address these challenges, University of California Press and California Digital Library have partnered with the Coko Foundation, supported by funding from the Mellon Foundation, to develop new digital workflows that reconceive the process of book production as modular, browser-based, and digital-first — a process better tuned to the needs and requirements of the next generation of scholarly books. The open-source outcome of this collaboration, Editoria, was conceived from a belief that publishers should be measured not by the pricetag of the technology and vendor agreements they can afford, but rather by the merits of the content they produce.
Charting a New Course
Editoria has come a long way since the last update on this blog in 2016 announcing the partnership. UCP project editors have been hard at work on an iterative design process with Coko’s Co-founder Adam Hyde to establish ideal book production workflows freed from the artificial constraints of vendor products. Coko’s development team has built an open source platform informed by these designs that allows for multiple use cases:
- An out-of-the-box solution. Publishers can adopt the Editoria platform as-is. It currently supports two workflows: 1) a post-acquisition workflow (as designed for UCP and CDL) that supports traditional editorial and production functions but leverages the cost and time savings introduced by automated typesetting; and 2) a flat collaborative workflow, in which collaborating to create content digitally is central, while permissions take a back seat and are managed socially.
- Or tailored for a better fit? Organizations can also adapt the platform extensively, depending on specific workflow needs. This allows publishers of all sizes to use a low cost, modular, browser-based solution which is open source, scalable, and easily customized.
- Local customizations -> opportunities for the community. As more organizations iterate the platform to support additional workflows, these options will be made available to the community, seeding the ecosystem with supportive tools powerful enough to sustain or help free up resource to grow otherwise struggling publishing programs. Possible examples include those working to create Open Educational Resources – an emerging content type with unique requirements from monographs. There will be other content types too, so watch this space.
Founding a New Community
It is still early days for Editoria. UCP and CDL envision a revolutionary platform that will represent a path toward sustainability for many resource-strapped library publishers and university presses. Some may add developers to the project, using in house resources to host, customize and maintain their own deployment. Smaller or resource-constrained organizations may opt to try a hosted version of Editoria (coming soon). Either way, these forward-thinking publishers will be part of the community contributing feedback and, in some cases, code or in-kind resources that will ultimately sustain and improve the offering for all.
Editoria’s value proposition is founded on the fact that it is, by design, community built and owned. Core to this community model is a commitment building a book production platform that is:
- Created by publishers for publishers
- Sustainable, and less costly than vendor systems
- Lightweight & intuitive, easy to customize
- Built on open source technology
- Technology-forward, supporting both current practices and future goals
Editoria is currently adding community members, as well as seeking additional grant funding to continue the platform’s development. Stay tuned for more robust features, integrations with other open source workflow and content delivery services and tools, and development of hosted and serviced offerings for the publishing community to choose from.
If you’d like to get a closer look:
- Visit the Editoria website
- Check out the code at gitlab.coko.foundation
- Request a demo
- Connect with Community Manager Alison McGonagle-O’Connell
This October, the Editoria Community will meet in San Francisco to discuss current state and future directions for the platform. Reach out for more information on this meeting and all things Editoria.
Alison McGonagle-O’Connell is Editoria Community Manager at Coko. She collaborates with community members across library publishing and university presses as well as with scholarly publishers to understand workflows and share useful information about Coko solutions. Prior to Coko, Alison worked for SaaS vendors and commercial publishers in scholarly publishing.