Simon & Schuster Opens Door to Vast Book Backlist

Publisher Partners with Innodata Isogen to Extend Publishing Life of Thousands of Popular Out-of-Print Titles


Since 1924, Simon & Schuster has published thousands of titles with millions of pages of text and images. Classics such as Will Durant’s “The Story of Philosophy,” James Hilton’s “Lost Horizon” and Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone with the Wind” are regularly reprinted. However, many titles exist solely as fragile out-of-print tomes stored in rare book sections of libraries and with limited access to the public.

Simon & Schuster viewed this vast backlist as an untapped asset and recognized that making it available to the public digitally would serve as a valuable tool in connecting their books to new readers and as a potential source of additional revenue for the authors. But low demand for these titles also made the cost of reprinting them economically unfeasible.

Advances in digital book production, however, make it possible for publishers to extend the publishing shelf-life for books economically with lower sales volumes. At the same time, Simon & Schuster also recognized that trying to convert those titles on its own would be an expensive, time-consuming project.


Simon & Schuster&rsqous; backlist presented a unique challenge. While books published recently are available in digital form in various versions of QuarkXpress and Adobe InDesign, those that exist only in print require scanning and imaging from an original printed edition. In addition, the files also had to be tagged with metadata to create XML files that could be indexed by search engines and made accessible via online search results to potential readers and book buyers.

To solve this problem, Simon & Schuster chose Innodata Isogen for its experience and focus on quality.


With Simon & Schuster, the Innodata Isogen team quickly established a timeline to complete the work within one year. After prioritizing titles for the conversion program, Simon & Schuster shipped books to Innodata Isogen's content production facility using a stringent system to track the scanning of each page of each book. Rare editions that required delicate handling in the scanning process were treated with special care.

Innodata Isogen established dedicated teams to scan books and also work with existing Quark, InDesign and Microsoft Lit files to create PDF and eBook-ready files. To support print-on-demand, the production teams created compound PDFs to ensure that line drawings and photos could be printed at high resolution.

Ensuring the quality of each of the three deliverables - the searchable PDF, XML and EPUB files - was a major challenge, since each has its own requirements and all had to meet an accuracy standard of 99.9%. Innodata Isogen also set up a content engineering team to provide technical support and help the production teams stay on schedule. Once the deliverables met the quality standards, the files in various formats were delivered electronically to Simon & Schuster’s secure digital archive.


As the conversion process continues, hundreds of books that had been out of print are now once again readily available to the public, helping Simon & Schuster explore new revenue streams and marketing opportunities from its archive. Moreover, all titles can be delivered through emerging distribution channels, including on-demand kiosks, online downloads, or even as eBooks, to meet the public’s growing demand to access content in any format, at any time.

With an e-commerce site that’s now well stocked with digital titles, Simon & Schuster is poised to compete in the digital marketplace and promote its authors through more robust and creative online marketing opportunities that target a wider range of niche markets and consumers.



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