One of the things we do at Ingenta is help publishers realize the transition from print being based businesses to media businesses. Many book publishers are most of the way there, having made the leap from viewing themselves as businesses who make and sell books, to enterprises who sell and manage intellectual property (IP) or copyright.

Publishers’ interest in our systems, which have been designed to be product agnostic,  has been growing exponentially as the landscape changes. But what is even more interesting, is observing how publishers are starting to behave more like media companies, while media outfits are beginning to move into the publishing space.
We saw an example of this trend blurring the edges between media conglomerates and publishers earlier this week, when NBC Universal announced that it was launching a publishing arm to complement to its other news and broadcasting activities. Yet this isn’t the only form of increased competition that publishers face. The technology sector itself, in the form of Apple, Google, Amazon etc, has been in the media business for many years. Only last week Apple made what looks to some like a land grab for the US textbook publishing and distribution market when it launched its iBooks 2 platform.

In such a febrile environment it’s only natural that big publishers should be falling over themselves to rebrand as fast flexible digital media houses. Out goes the traditional hardback book, in comes a business that slices and dices its IP in manifold ways, producing multi-format content from books to ebooks to apps to enhanced books.

To these businesses, tech giants such as Apple and Google can be viewed as opportunities not threats. While tech businesses are expert in creating platforms on which content such as an ebook can be bought, stored and consumed they have much less expertise in terms of what makes a game playable, a film watchable and a book readable. Remember, Rovio created Angry Birds, not Apple. And the need for content to populate these tech ecosystems means publishers publishing in the right formats and channels can extract new revenues and growth from these tech-enabled markets.

But how does a publisher know they’re ready to engage with this brave new world? We’ve identified six key factors governing success in digital publishing.

1. Workflow - Are you able to produce thinking in a product agnostic way? Can your systems manage the process of creating multiple products from one IP?


2. Rights - Are your rights in order ? Do you know what they own and what you can sell where?


3. Permissions - The vastly important issue of permissions. Do you have the right permissions cleared, and are you on top of this increasingly important revenue stream?


4. Globality - Digital means global, so are your systems scalable, multi language and multi currency?


5. Distribution - Can you get both types of content - digital and physical - out the door in the right format at high quality?

6. Monetization
- Let’s not forget that with digital as well as being able to create multiform, bundled, fragmented any which way content there needs to be thought on how they make money for the content. Digital allows for a 101 ways to change, subscriptions to pay per view.

In conclusion

The winner in the race to be the new media giants will need to be able to build new ecosystems or risk failure. To achieve this they need quality software, quality content, ease of access, quality packaging or interface and ease of payment.
True success will come from realizing these are direct to consumer opportunities. Here the value or peer recommendation and participation (i.e. monetizing the social commerce layer) will need to be sewn up in order to gain the customer’s dollar. Realizing this will see publishers become media companies and media companies delivering print content becoming publishers. The new world of transmedia companies will be vast, provided they can crack this magic combination.

What do you think of this new breed of transmedia publishing ventures? We'd love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below.