In “Company Snapshots,” we pose a series of questions to leading providers of digital products and services and let them speak for themselves about what their company does, how they benefit publishers, and what they believe the biggest trends in the industry are. In today’s entry, we have Futureproofs.
What does your company do?
Our Futureproofs platform helps editors and authors make sure their books are ready for publication more easily, quickly and cheaply. Specifically, we focus on the proofing stage—when the text, design, art, etc. are brought together to create a book—and help the team to work and collaborate more effectively.
What’s unique about your company compared to your competitors?
Futureproofs is based on a deep understanding of the jobs that editors actually do (rather than having a tech focus). We combined the best of traditional markup with the best of modern technology to create a solution that our users say is “frankly gorgeous.” This unique markup tool helps users to mark up corrections easily and precisely, as well as to collate master proofs and compare different versions of the book. Along side this are collaboration tools that help them to resolve queries quickly and accountably, and real-time data to help manage the project effectively and transparently.
What’s the single biggest benefit your customers get from your service?
We actually asked this question of our users recently, and 80 percent said that the markup tool was the most important part of Futureproofs. It makes them faster and more productive, without having to sacrifice quality.
What’s the single biggest problem for your customers right now?
I firmly believe that the only thing that will keep traditional publishers in business is quality. Readers have access to more content than ever before and so, if we want them to buy from us, we have to make sure that our content is better than the rest (whatever “better” means to our customers). This is the job of the editorial team, but we’re increasingly outsourcing this function, replacing editors with project managers and “digital” people. This is a big mistake! We need to retain those editorial skills and value editors’ central place in the value chain.
What’s the single biggest opportunity for your customers right now?
The vast amount of information and misinformation on the Internet is, perversely, a great opportunity—especially for the educational and trade non-fiction publishers who make up most of our customers. For all the hype that the good content will somehow rise to the top, the fact is that few of us have the time to waste churning through piles of dross to find the gems. Publishers that can persuade customers that they are a reliable and cost-effective source of gems will be successful.
What industry trends do you think will have the greatest impact on your customers over the next 24 months?
One major issue will continue to be the difference between what people say they want and what they actually buy (especially for educational and trade non-fiction publishers). We see apparent demand for technology but not the matching revenues—hence the general difficulty making money from high-quality, high-price apps for iPad. So the trend towards digitization is one publishers need to ride carefully, because it’s very expensive to create content that no one buys! But, conversely, if we don’t learn to create it, then we relegate ourselves to a ghetto.
To get all the ebook and digital publishing news you need every day in your inbox at 8:00 AM, sign up for the DBW Daily today!