It wouldn’t seem like Transcontinental has all that much to learn. After all, to be the largest multiprinting company in Canada, as well as the fourth largest printer in North America, they must be doing something right. But with this era’s shift towards digital publishing, Transcontinental is keeping pace, as announced in a May 16th press release naming their company as the official partner with the Canadian Bookseller’s Association to bring ebooks to online and retail bookstores.
“The dynamics in the market are changing. This is a big deal for our publisher clients because they can now reach more customers in more ways,” says Transcontinental VP Bruce Jensen. Their ebook program is proving to be extremely cost effective, due largely to the fact that they are the hard copy printer for most of the publishing industry in Canada. “We already have our customers’ files in order to print, so it was only a minimal cost to shift to digital publishing of the material that they provide.”
The larger publishing houses that Transcontinental has had long-standing relationships with stand to gain from the ease of providing the newest trend in book purchasing. At the same time, the smaller to mid-sized publishing imprints will be just as likely to find audiences that were primarily out of reach when they were limited to printing only hard copies of their titles.
Drawing on its extensive history of printing newspapers, magazines, and website content, Transcontinental also knows the value of the subscription-based market. It already has options out for single-copy magazines for iPad and is expecting to be subscription-capable to iPad within three months, a feat that Apple has had trouble with recently and which caused some concern for Conde Nast, publisher of a broad scope of high-profile magazine titles such as GQ, Vogue, Glamour, and Vanity Fair.
But it is not only the booksellers and publishers who stand to gain from Transcontinental’s digital advance; they have already opened channels for distribution of self-published works to iPad through Apple and in epub and PDF formats, with more in-depth Kindle compatibility expected soon. Self-published authors will retain their stake in their work by dictating their price points, setting their own preview defaults, and tracking their sales via the website account. By allowing indie authors to upload their manuscripts to the Digital Warehouse and making that server-based catalog available to all CBA partner booksellers, Transcontinental enables authors to select which booksellers carry their work and then instantly track their sales in order to more efficiently receive payment for their titles.
Of course, companies that will format a manuscript to ebook and make it available for online purchase have been operating for some time. And in light of the recent internet buzz that Amazon may be accepting manuscripts in epub format, one has to wonder if this news may even be a little too late. But one way that Transcontinental is ahead of the game is their ability to make PageFlip previews and manuscript chapters available to all media outlets that they serve in order to garner much-needed book reviews for their authors, a vital tool for establishing a reader fan base and expanding author exposure.
Indie authors interested in a working preview of Transcontinental’s capabilities—and who can make their way to the 2011 BookExpo America in New York next week—can try out the process at interactive workstations that will be set up for would-be self-publishers at Transcontinental’s expo booth. The BEA will mark Transcontinental’s official launch of the much-anticipated official partnership with CBA and a timeline is already in place for future expansion into U.S. publishing markets.
“Print is not going to die, it is going to survive, but this is another channel to keep it that way,” says Jensen. This recognition of the need to keep up will also help guarantee that not only will publishing survive, but so will Transcontinental.