Remaking the Book. Editoria.

Books are a critical link in scholarly communication. Yet low-cost, web-based tools designed specifically to support book production are extremely limited. University of California Press & the California Digital Library turned to Coko to help create an easy to implement, browser-based solution driven by community-based development.

The result is Editoria — an elegant, open source, end-to-end, authoring, editing & workflow tool specifically for book production. Here’s how we did it.

Project Details

Coko’s Role
Facilitated product design, custom development

12 months from concept to to first book trial

Tools Developed & Deployed
PubSweet, XSweet, Wax Editor

Solving the “monograph problem” with standardization + flexibility + scale.

Publishers add greatest value to scholarly book publishing when their energy and attention focuses on editorial development. But without a low-cost, web-based suite of tools to standardize workflows, they are often mired in clunky and idiosyncratic production processes rather than high-value editorial development. Custom workflows keep costs high and hinder streamlined approaches that provide much needed standardization and flexibility.

UC Press and CDL knew solving the book production problem meant developing a community-driven solution that could scale the process, create economies, and drive down costs. Using open source technology and focusing on ePub standards, they envisioned Editoria providing a transparent, collaborative, and flexible editorial production process centered around user needs.

Building a modern, web-based book production solution starts with people. Not with technology.

Before deploying a single line of code, Coko empowered Editoria’s users to design their own software. Our collaborative product design process armed the end-users of the system with flip charts, markers, white boards — and our undivided attention. These ‘use-case specialists’ tapped their deep understanding of book production to define their needs as the starting point — not the end point — of the technology build.

People-centric technology puts a relentless focus on simplicity. Rather than working with the Editoria team to map out every possible scenario, our shared goal was to solve for common and simple use-cases without adding hard-wired workflow complexity. This approach, combined with Coko’s modular technology means that as Editoria evolves, new tasks or functions can be added into the system without requiring a rebuild.

Editoria working group whiteboard
Editoria working group meeting

“Too often, people propose technology as the mechanism for change. Technology doesn’t create change. People create change, with the assistance of technology.”

— Adam Hyde, Coko Founder

From open source building blocks to book production platform

To create Editoria’s web-based system for managing book production, we utilized PubSweet — Coko’s core technology framework. PubSweet is a platform-building toolkit — a “platform to build platforms” with a robust architecture and interoperable components that we assembled to build Editoria.

Components of the system include an XSLT stylesheet to ingest .docX files; authentication and team management functions; automated PDF & ePub outputs; and, critically, development of a web based word processor — Wax. Built on top of Javascript / libraries and designed for HTML-first workflows, Wax allows content to be edited and produced directly in the browser.

Built open for the community. By the community.

Editoria was built with the needs of the larger publishing community squarely in mind. Using Coko’s modular open source technology allowed us to create a system that a range of publishers — within the university press community and beyond — can take over, use, and adapt for their specific workflows. The system is in beta with dozens of publishers, and proving capable of producing real, live books.

Interested in a demo? Want to find out more about how Editoria can support (and radically simplify) your production workflow? Let’s talk.

Editoria isn’t another proprietary, monolithic workflow solution. Working with Coko we built a flexible, community-supported model for book publishing — an open source solution that the community can use, customize, and build to improve efficiency and drive down costs.

— Erich van Rijn, Interim Director, UC Press