I’ve written a lot about how important it is for publishers to create direct sales channels. Building your own online destinations and user relationships is key if you want to protect your margins and market access. And building community and interactivity around your content is key if you want users to keep coming back. But I know none of these things come easy, especially if you want to avoid getting locked into proprietary technologies and platforms.
So I was excited to see a demo recently of a digital publishing platform called Tizra that checks all the key boxes for publishers who want to build their own brands and communities. Tizra is web-based, so you’re not locked into any one company’s reader ecosystem. It’s granular too, so you can experiment with selling chapters and custom collections. It gives you total design control, so you can brand it however you want (including incorporating open source code, or code from other vendors). And unlike some open source tools, it’s easy to use and fully supported.
I was so impressed I decided to test it out with the latest edition of TOC’s Global Ebook Market report. Converting the document into a web-based ebook took less than a minute, and as you can see for yourself, results were excellent. One immediate benefit is that every page has its own URL, so it’s easy to reference specific sections for discussion, like Key Drivers and Debates or the English language market. Another plus is that appropriately optimized mobile web versions are automatically delivered to iPad and other mobile users.
The truly unique part of the platform, though, is the behind-the-scenes control panel that gives publishers the full range of tools needed to manage their content and user connections in a direct, hands-on way. Everything from purchase terms (including subscriptions and institutional access) to content remixing to user account management and web design is handled through a single web interface, which is unusually consistent and intuitive.
Tizra has been steadily improving the platform for more than six years, and continues to do so. I’m told their near term plans include easier to use multi-media integration tools, and web delivery of re-flowable formats.
But what’s most important is what’s there already: A level of unmediated control that empowers publishers to be responsive to market feedback, and encourages them to take ownership of user relationships. These are exactly the habits that publishers need to develop in order to build successful digital businesses, and exactly the habits Tizra does a great job of supporting.
I want to encourage all publishers to look beyond the current standards of mobi and EPUB. Platforms like Tizra show what’s possible in the web-based content delivery world.