OK. So we are (happily) "out of a closet". HBG's David Cramer gave a presentation at BEA 2012 in which IGP:Digital Publisher was mentioned. IGP:Digital Publisher has been used for the comprehensive production of a wide range of best sellers by HBG over the last few years; in multiple print formats and e-book deliverables.
Dave is the HBG digital content guru, and a significant contributor in the IDPF ePub3 spec. He co-authored the fixed layout spec.
HBG is not the only one, but we have to respect NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) when they apply. Others users include Faber in the UK and Oxford University Press for Online interactive content and audio readers. There are also a number of other quality publishers around the globe who understand the difference map between digital content and format outputs.
It emphasised that change makes us strong, keeps us relevant, and makes sure we evolve in the right direction. The HBG decision to bring production back in-house rather than off-shoring was about real business outcomes and value, rather than the discounting of people vs. price. I have been a participant/victim/witness of this over the past three years and remain stunned at the relentless toughness of the primary change agents - who are actually people, doing their job very, very well. It is a testament to commitment and honesty over superficiality and fear.
The WYSIWYG-ozoic was a particularly interesting concept. WYSIWYG means a single look, a single layout, an X-Y format commitment. Digital content production of value is anything but that. Somehow designers have to move past X-Y lockins and be able to abstract new content presentation possibilities.
A desktop application like InDesign producing a PDF, with some wrestling to an ePub is OK. It's what you know. It's what you do. But it is not change. It is not growth. It is not evolution. It's just being hopeful.
It is fitting in with yesterdays' tools and ideas; and consciously deciding to be blind to the proprietary traps. In two years you will have to upgrade to their latest software version, and upgrade your legacy files to match the proprietary penalties they impose. If you produce more than 10 or so books a year, that is an incredible penalty to pay after just 2-3 years in the digital content era. It is dinasour stuff. When I read various posts on InDesign, iAuthor or other design locked into formats, my age insists that I see visions of marching hammers from "The Wall" by Pink Floyd. OK, I confess I am "of a certain age!"
I have no problem being a pretend brick in the Adobe, Google, Amazon or Apples walls, but I don't want to be a real brick. I want to make sure that valuable content is deliverable everywhere in any required brick shape, colour or texture in spite of proprietary machinery, not because of it. Rest assured, the brick will change colour, shape and texture tomorrow.
As a contrast example we have just produced thousands of Google Search-Inside PDF from content produced in 2007 using IGP:FoundationXHTML. Around four years before Google was even on the e-Book map, and three years before iBooks was even thought of, and when InDesign was a CS4 or something brilliantish like that.
The opposite argument is the XML first argument. But it is just as rigid. Your content is constrained by a technologists abstract ability to produce production quality that is high enough for any content. It will always, always fail. The people in the supply chain who actually care about the content are the editors. Editors must be empowered. Technologists must be sidelined.
Of course the other great concept that was presented as unique and valuable was Design Profiles. Multiple PDFs, all correctly typeset from a single XHTML file, with per PDF customized content - instantly.
Pretty radical! Way beyond any silly "XML First" system; way beyond any DTP application. From a single XHTML create hardcover, paperback, mass-market, international mass-market and largep-print editions each with custom content. Oh yeah; and ePub2/3 and Kindle e-books.
If you weren't there you can download it here with presentation notes. Download IDPF-2012-Cramer-smaller.