When the first big scholarly e-book programmes launched six or seven years ago there was plenty of excitement about putting e-books and e-journals on the same platform so that they could be searched together and this trend has continued.
As Michael Cairns, chief operating officer online at Publishing Technology, observed: ‘Over the course of the last few years there has been a recognition that there is benefit to integrate not just books and journals but also conference proceedings.’
Publishing Technology, which also creates and hosts platforms for a range of publishers, has observed similar things. ‘On the journals side we always have issues with format for ingest and always anticipate some back and forth to get things how the customer wants,’ said Cairns. ‘Typically, we specify to publishers that we require XML but there are always exceptions and problems – especially with converting archives.’
And he said that the challenges are greater with e-books. ‘Books haven’t been online as long, so the issues are more basic. Often we will get a full book PDF that we need to break down into chapters – and metadata is often provided at the book level rather than at the chapter level.’
In addition, he noted that many things such as indexing, endnotes and footnotes work well in print book navigation – but in the online world, especially in content ingestion, these are problematic. ‘Even within publishing houses, processes are not consistent,’ he observed.