Paperless Publishing-Colin Haynes - Chapter 7 - Section 3

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themselves creating much of the course material as they construct databases rather than just study prepared material that hardly changes from year to year. "They gain insights and understanding in a way that would not be possible with passive viewing," says Barbara Maliska, the first director of Stanford University's Academic Software Development group.

 

Interactive media as a catalyst for learning

Stanford University is the pilot for the New Media Centers Program, a collaboration of leading software, hardware, and publishing companies founded in 1993 to help campuses use interactive media as a catalyst for innovation. Stanford's SMILE (the Stanford Media Integration Lab for Education) is the first of what could develop into a truly international network of centers that will do much to promote various forms of electronic publishing. The aim is to have 100 such centers operating by 1996, each equipped with the latest hardware, software, and peripherals for multimedia production.

These could be important resources for local publishers or authors to use to create electronic editions of their works, as community access is an important element of the concept. The centers are expected to do a lot of electronic publishing themselves as they develop curriculum materials that they can distribute on a royalty basis to other campuses, or release commercially. Indeed, it is hoped that many of the New Media Centers will become self-funding as they develop viable titles, tap corporate and alumni sources for funding, and act as testing and product development facilities for commercial manufacturers and publishers.

These centers can obtain their hardware and software facilities at very attractive prices, which helps the budgets allocated by participating universities to go a lot further than by trying to establish multimedia labs independently. As an indication of what is involved, the Stanford center has a computer classroom, with individual student stations and a large projection screen for the instruction; a curriculum development laboratory, where instructional programs or publications are created by faculty and students; and what is called a "public

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computer cluster" of 50 networked Macintosh Centris 650 systems with CD-ROM drives that the students can use.

The first two courses taught at the center illustrate the range of topics suitable for such multimedia applications: the History of Silicon Valley and Elizabethan Theater. There is an annual selection process for campuses interested in joining the New Media Centers program. You can get details from the organizers at 415-558-8866, AppleLink NMC; Internet NMC @ netcom.com.

Although these centers are geared towards higher education, multimedia publishing projects can be applied at virtually any level of the educational system. Third- and fourth-graders at Argonaut School in Saratoga, California showed the way when they used the America Alive Navigator program to complete the state report projects required of all California students.

Each child chose a state and wrote about its history, industry, environment, and other features. They drew maps and other illustrations, sang state songs, and added audio commentaries. The final publication was copied onto a Kodak PhotoCD in a unique group class project, but with each student's contribution retaining its individuality.

On this CD it is easy to find individual references or student projects, and the disk can be duplicated so that every student has a permanent record of this phase of his or her school career. Such electronic publishing opens up fascinating opportunities to record our lives in a permanent form that can be viewed later and passed on to succeeding generations. This new technology offers many alternatives to the traditional school yearbook and family snapshot album.

 

Helping teachers meet increasing social obligations

As teachers are forced to play much wider roles affecting the social welfare of their children, they find multimedia a useful tool in these tasks also. An important application of electronic publishing to social problems is helping children to learn how to function in our

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increasingly complex and often hostile society. John Walsh, host of Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted" series, featured in a CD-ROM presentation to raise funds for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, as well as to teach children how to minimize their risks of being abducted.

Such safety lessons and resource guides communicating to children with animation, video, and other multimedia features will become increasingly important. Teachers can create new career opportunities by participating in the production of these materials, rather than just being involved in their distribution to the children.

 

Educators create customized materials

Already educators at more than 800 colleges and universities are custom-designing the reading materials for their courses through Primis, the McGraw-Hill electronic database publishing unit. Instructors create their own textbooks by selecting material from the database and adding their own notes. Primis software then automatically creates a unique new book with its own ISBN, title, table of contents, and index. Even in hard copy form, the instructor receives his or her customized text back in 72 hours, and there are significant savings for students.

In 1994, World Library Inc.'s Library of the Future, Second Edition, containing 2,000 literary works, was added to the Primis database of 12,000 textbooks, journals, lab manuals, case studies, and articles.

 

A book is a powerful tool for sales, public relations, training, employee motivation, and other business needs. Create a book or a series of books, and let the words in its most valued and tangible form effectively replace much of the need to travel to communicate with diverse audiences.

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With the personal computer now the universal business tool, e-books become the natural medium for many types of communication. Business users are often up-to-date with the latest business technology, so increasingly it is appropriate to create more sophisticated information targeted at this readership. Sound, graphics, and animation are being taken for granted by many business computer users (Fig. 7-2).

 

Market your business information

Database directories are among the most successful electronic business publications. You might already have lists of people, companies, addresses, and resources that are of particular interest to

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the business market and could be published as e-books to generate more prestige and revenue than renting them out as mailing lists.

Or you might have particular expertise or case-history details from a project that yield information of value to a business sector. You might be sitting on important technical or marketing information that can be distributed quickly and cost-efficiently on disk to an audience with a defined need to know that information.

When aiming at the business market, remember that new information is worth far more to some people than that same information when it is a week, a month, or a year old. The price that information can realize when it is fresh can be many times what it is worth as it ages. The speed of electronic publishing can enable you to maximize that potential.

 

Publish to motivate and inform employees

An e-book might do more for less cost than an expensive consultant or other expert brought in to train or brief staff on important topics. You might not even need to create such a book; there might be one out already, bearing the name of an author and a prestigious imprint that you can adopt or customize to enhance your communications efforts.

For example, my book for the American Management Association on computing-related health problems provides a low cost and easy tool for a company to meet new statutory requirements to inform and instruct staff in healthy ways to work. At the same time, giving this printed book or a version of it on disk or over the network to each computer operator would be a tangible expression of corporate concern for employees. It might even reduce potential corporate liability for industrial injury claims, since this book disseminates information that enables the employees to assume much of the responsibility for their own welfare.

If you are publishing an e-book to enhance your professional reputation or for publicity purposes, the results will probably be better if the book has a physical substance. The section in chapter 9 on packaging has many suggestions.

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Publishing a book is an event

You can exploit the fact that the publication of a book is an event, almost like a birth, steeped in mysticism and wonder, especially for those who regard putting tens of thousands of words together in a logical sequence as a remarkable achievement. Books can achieve an impact just by being, so for particular business or professional purposes, it is essential to bring your virtual book out of cyberspace and give it physical substance.

"'Tis pleasant, sure, to see one's name in print," wrote Byron with typical cynicism. "A book's a book, although there's nothing in't." Mark Twain shared that viewpoint, describing the classic book as one "which people praise and don't read," an illustration of the way that books communicate even to those who do not read them.

Most of our contemporary business gurus are known by their books, which are bought more than read, but still communicate even when unopened as if by some kind of osmosis from all that is written and said about them. A thought can spring from a book and become alive and change the history of humanity'or the course of a company. "How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book," said Thoreau.

That's Henry David Thoreau, of course, who died in 1862, never traveled much, yet is still communicating furiously because his books, although little read these days, were rich in pithy quotes. These have fluttered forth with a life of their own and flourished because they were born in books. Books have a permanence and status that other media lack, enhancing the communication prospects of both the thoughts they contain and the authors who wrote them.

 

Just by being a book, rather than a brochure, newsletter, or magazine, a publication can be a powerful force in the business environment. It does not have to be a big book, something quite modest in length can still have a great deal of impact.

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A book, either as a physical entity or as a virtual book on disk or over a network, can be a powerful agent to facilitate change in a corporate environment. Consider the example of a modest book created as part of a strategy to foster change in a company needing urgently to adapt to a new market situation, adopt new technology, and get rid of its outdated hierarchical management style. Just such a case is discussed in the following sections. Freelance writers and consultants might be able to abstract from it the basis for pitching a book proposal to a corporate client.

 

The Corporate Book
of Change scenario

A new CEO has come on board and is battling both to get her management team to realize that change is essential, and to communicate to the disillusioned workforce, dealers, and suppliers that change is actually happening; that the old, demotivating situation is being replaced by something exciting and new.

When multinational corporations embark on such exercises, the travel involved is usually enormously expensive and time-consuming. It is a particular problem in sectors such as the motor industry, where success might hinge on communicating with and motivating dealerships scattered around the country or the world.

But our smart executive saves most of those air fares, hotel bills, and management time. She decides to create and distribute a book on change as a tangible expression of the new corporate culture. Such a book can be created using almost any of the authoring software described in earlier chapters, and probably needs to be printed as well as distributed electronically to have the desired impact and reach all members of the target audience.

 

Budget and structure

This book is so important for the company that a realistic budget has been approved, but the unit price for the printed version is not to exceed $5 because this must not be seen as an extravagant,

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ego-boosting exercise. The CEO also wants a flexible format so that other volumes can follow on such topics as ethics, conflict, and quality. To meet these requirements, she instructs that the book must meet the following objectives:

A small management steering committee meets and draws up the following specification as a guide to everybody involved in this project.

 

Formats

A conventional printed book is required so that the key elements of the message can be compiled in a permanent, easily used form accessible to all of the target audience. The page size of approximately 5.5--8.5 is sufficiently large to have impact and clarity, but attractively compact and portable. It can be printed in-house from standard letter-size paper, and an envelope for the electronic publications and presentations on disks can be bound in. Between 64 and 100 pages on a cream or light-gray paper stock, perhaps featuring the corporate color and of a type to bulk up impressively to give higher perceived value.

There are alternative versions of the first two pages, so that the book can be customized easily for different audiences: dealers, workers, suppliers, and potential recruits. Special hand-bound presentation copies can be produced for major investors, directors, and other targets for premium copies. These could be calligraphed by computer on the first facing page with the name of each recipient, and there is space for the CEO personally to address and autograph presentation copies.

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Content

An introduction from the CEO explains why change is necessary in the organization. The book is a tangible expression of management's determination to initiate those changes to benefit everyone in the enterprise. Then follows a brief history of the organization and an upbeat forecast of a bright future if we adapt to the changing business environment.

Production requirements

To ease production, there is a standardized run-of-book layout which is elegantly simple, and works as well on screens as on paper. One or two quotations on various aspects of change are the dominant upper element on each page. They may be set in a conventional typeface (such as Times Roman or Bookman) about 14 or 16pt, with a 24 to 48pt calligraphic-style initial drop letter to distinguish the quotes from the rest of the text.

Below each quote is a commentary on the quote, relating it directly to a particular situation within the corporation. The commentaries come from management, union representatives, and a cross-section of employees. They form a tangible expression of all personnel internalizing the new corporate culture.

Visuals will help the impact of the book and need not add seriously to the cost. Each quote and commentary will be illustrated by a visual typifying the area of the corporation to which it is linked, or by a portrait of the member of the corporate team making the commentary, or by both. Photographs of the people featured can be turned into easily reproducible line art after scanning them into an image-manipulating program. Suitable visuals can be screened and printed very lightly underneath the text as a background.

The 60 pages in the book will be printed in two lots of 30, folded, saddle-stitched, and trimmed at the same time to achieve some of the economies available for print runs of 1,000 copies or more. Then, drawing from this stock, smaller quantities will be bound as needed to meet demand, using one of the many desktop binding systems available.

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Customize your books to your readers

It is useful to be able to take preprinted standard copies of a corporate book and customize the binding to use the book for specific purposes or target audiences. In the case of a book on disk, you can customize the opening title screen, the slip cover, and the label for the disk very economically.

Your book might, for example, be adapted to stockholders by a management team seeking support against a hostile takeover bid. Then, with a different presentation and introduction, the same book can be circulated internally to inform employees about the takeover and maintain morale during a critical period.

This approach is a much more efficient way to reach a widely scattered workforce than having managers traipsing from one location to another giving live presentations. However, remember that a book is not in itself interactive. There are many circumstances in which the publishing of a book should be supported by other activities using appropriate media for the responses that might be generated'a telephone hot line or written questionnaire, for example. Publishing through interactive employee kiosks can also be very effective.

Either a printed or electronic book can easily be made interactive by adding some kind of questionnaire requiring a response. In the case of an electronic book, there are several programs that can prompt reaction by question-and-answer screens or by using tutorial structures.

 

Reaching external audiences

If a book created for internal uses really comes together well, consider extending its application to various external audiences who need to be informed about a new policy or other significant corporate event. Review copies can be sent to media contacts as part of the external PR effort. A book can stimulate more editorial coverage than a straight media release would achieve.

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The same text could be produced and distributed very economically as an audiotape. A professional actor with a strong, mature voice could read the quotes, and the featured members of the organization would each record their own commentaries. You could amplify their views and make a tape that compliments the book by interviewing each contributor in turn and producing a documentary on the topic of change in the corporation.

 

Getting the most for your money

The cost to produce either a printed or e-book like this can be very attractive. You can get the best of paper and paperless publishing with a hybrid production, in which the book also provides the packaging for more extensive documentation on disk. If you construct your printed material so that it applies to your entire target readership, you can then easily and economically customize the disk contents for particular groups.

For easy and economical sources of content, turn to dictionaries of quotations in print or on disk. For example, a classic shareware program called Wisdom of the Ages can do a simple search from the keyboard to find great quotes appropriate to almost any communications task. Keith D. Mohler (800-800-1997) has also put together a great selection of 12,000 quotes called Quotes on Line, published on disk using the powerful askSam search text engine.

We live in times of great change, and are often fearful of departures from our established routines. Any kind of change can usually be turned from a problem into a potential opportunity, and most changes, whether positive or negative, provide opportunities to produce a book

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