Data Conversion Laboratory and Bowker's 4th Annual Digital Publishing Survey shows conversion quality and accuracy remains at the top of publisher concerns
Fresh Meadows, NY (November 13, 2017) – The Fourth Annual Digital Publishing Survey fielded by Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. (DCL) and Bowker attracted over 1000 publishing professionals and the results reveal consistent trends – most notably that content quality and accuracy after a digital conversion are still top concerns. For example, 86% of respondents felt that editing and copyediting of ebooks was just as important as for print books.
The survey was jointly conducted by DCL, an industry leader in organizing and converting content into digital formats, and Bowker, the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information, connecting publishers, authors and booksellers with readers. The survey probes publishing professionals (51 percent of respondents were “print and digital authors”) with questions designed to harvest insights across a host of important topics in publishing, including the various digital formats publishers use, the quality of eBooks, conversion concerns, and much more.
As this is the fourth consecutive year DCL and Bowker have co-sponsored this survey, certain trends have begun to emerge. Just like in 2016, quality and accuracy is still on the collective minds of publishing professionals. For instance, this year, in response to the question, “What aspect of digital conversion are you most concerned about?”, respondents said, “retaining formatting” (58 percent), “quality” (52 percent), and “errors caused by automated conversion” (49 percent). To compare, in 2016 for the same question, respondents said, “quality” (56 percent), “retaining formatting” (55 percent), and “errors caused by automated conversion” (46 percent) were their main concerns. Respondents in 2014 and 2015 also indicated that these three choices were the top concerns they were facing.
This year’s results go on to link the topic of quality with its effect on customer satisfaction, and ultimately revenue. When asked the question “Does quality affect eBook sales?” the overwhelming majority of participants (68 percent) said, “Yes. Readers want the best quality possible.” Fitting into this theme is that digital publishers are increasingly including some level of quality assurance to ensure error-free content. The question, “How are you most likely to ensure your content is error-free?” produced these results: This year, 38 percent hire editors, 32 percent perform self-checks, and 15 percent perform QA prior to conversion. These latter numbers are down slightly from the year before. If there is a clear trend to be noted for this question of achieving error-free content, it is around having quality assurance performed on the content before the conversion: this has steadily gone down year over year since 2014. The issue of quality is such an important factor that when asked, “How are you most likely to convert your content?” 45 percent said, “Convert it myself”. This is also consistent with prior years.
“I’m gratified to see the maturation of the industry, and the high number of respondents who feel that editing quality of an ebook is as important as the quality of a print book, and it doesn't surprise me that once again quality and accuracy are key concerns for authors and publishers when converting their content to digital. There is no reason why quality has to suffer when going from print to digital,” said Mark Gross, President of DCL. “What does surprise me is the high number of people that said that they prefer to convert their content themselves. From my experience, that actually contributes to a breakdown in quality.”
Another key finding from the survey were the number of publishing professionals that plan to publish digitally in the future. This year 75 percent said they “plan to publish digitally in 2018” which is steadily tracking down from previous years: 84 percent in 2014, 80 percent in 2015, and 79.5 percent in 2016. That is still a high number, but it’s an indicator that at least in this market the death of print has been exaggerated.
“Readers expect the same level of quality regardless of format, and publishers know this from their own experience, as confirmed with 68% of respondents stating that quality affects ebook sales,” said Beat Barblan, Director, Identifier Services at Bowker. “When content is not properly converted to digital, it shows and readers reject it. The time when customers were willing to make excuses for flaws in ebooks has long passed, and anyone who is serious about digital publishing should take note and ensure the highest level of quality of their digital titles. While containing cost is certainly a factor in all business ventures, cutting cost at the expense of quality could prove fatal when it comes to ebook sales. If there is one key takeaway from the survey it is this: Quality is king when it comes to successful digital publishing.”
For more than 35 years, Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. (DCL) (www.dclab.com), has been a leader in helping organizations grow the value of their content assets investment. With digitization and content management expertise across multiple industries including publishing, life sciences, government, manufacturing, technology and professional organizations, DCL uses advanced technology, XML expertise, and U.S.-based project management teams to solve complex conversion and data mining challenges securely, accurately and on time. For more information, visit www.dclab.com, follow us on Twitter, and join the conversation in DCL's Content Conversion Strategies group on LinkedIn.
Bowker® is the world's leading provider of bibliographic information, connecting publishers, authors, and booksellers with readers. With an expanded focus on Identifier Services (myidentifiers.com), Bowker provides tools to help authors promote and sell their books – and resources, such as the Books In Print® database – to help make their titles more discoverable. Bowker, a ProQuest affiliate, is the official ISBN Agency for the United States.