Earlier this month, publishers from all over gathered at O'Reilly Tools of Change conference for publishers in New York City. What you might think would be a dismal, disheartened group, instead turned out to be inspired industry professionals. With more attendees than last year, TOC honed in on the pulse of web publishing, beating steadily and heartily, as ever. The participants were excited and anxious, but more importantly they were hopeful.
Impelsys, an online global publisher, was among those at TOC and they, too felt the invigorated spirit. Last week, we reported that Impelsys had just signed more than 150 publishers to their web publishing portal, iPublish Central. This week we caught up with Sameer Shariff, founder and CEO of Impelsys to talk about its successes and future in the publishing industry.
Throughout the conference, the theme of experimentation was highlighted. At no other time has change and evolution been as important to an industry as it is to publishing. Cutbacks, decreased revenue and the expenses of day to day operations are forcing publishers to develop new business strategies and "think outside the book."
iPublish Central is poised at the right place at the right time because it encourages publishers, big and small, to experiment with web technologies. By experimenting, publishers can better understand their customers, which is key to most successful business ventures.
Shariff explains that "a book is just one device." Content is everywhere: audio, video, online communities. Content is constantly being produced and publishers are responsible for connecting and engaging the reader.
Think of a book cover. Often a flat, one-dimensional photo on a web site. Through iPublish Central, book covers become portals that let readers experience another dimension. They are interactive widgets that engage the reader with sampled content and other information and can lead to transactions and revenue.
All According to Plan
Though their recent success of adding more publishers might seem like a happy accident, everything has gone according to plan, says Shariff. He and the company have followed a thoughtfully crafted 24 month road map. He reminded us that iPublish was not built on a whim, but rather it was borne out of a sincere understanding of the publishing industry and with an intent to help publishers lower costs, while effectively promoting awareness in the marketplace.
However, some of their customers are slowly adapting to the culture of a self-serve publishing model and as a result iPublish Central has had to adapt their efforts to better support users who may not understand fully the benefits of viral web marketing, SEO and the other assets of Web 2.0. Impelsys' expertise in these areas is another way that they help others experiment. In the end, a publisher's marketing efforts are an extension of their own.
Shariff is eager to keep the momentum going so that iPublish can evolve along with its customers. Ideally, he'd like iPublish to be for web publishing what Salesforce has been for CRM.
As more publishers realize the value of experimenting, newspapers, books and magazines will begin see their content as malleable. iPublish Central hopes to be the place where they create and expand their presence on the web.