Behind the Purple Door: Going Digital with Pip Tannenbaum
Some of the most important work in publishing happens in the space between editorial magic and sales. Pip Tannenbaum’s job is exactly this kind of work. Based in our New York office, Pip’s official title is “Digital Manager”. Her day to day involves a mix of two very hot topics in publishing right now: eBook production and digital asset management.
If that second one sounds confusing, that’s because it can be a fairly complicated affair. She’s part of a project management team that will ultimately result in a better system for our company to keep track of our book content, our metadata, and all of the information associated with our books that anyone could possibly want. On one Thursday morning, Pip kicks off her day early with a visit to her favorite coffee shop Fika, where she fuels up on the key ingredient to power the rest of the day:
Then, the real work begins with emails to her colleagues in the UK to schedule upcoming meetings. “I’m part of the main committee to select partners for a new system implementation, as well as part of the implementation team for those systems once they’ve been selected,” she explains. “My background includes a lot of knowledge about printing, file setup, content management, and digital production.”
To that end, Pip hops on the phone to talk to a company involved in cleaning up old files for better storage and to prepare them for the systems she’ll be helping to put in place, including xml workflows. It sounds like a hassle, but, as she explains, it’s all about figuring out how “we can change the way we work to be more efficient”. Pip will be in charge of writing up best practices documents in order to make sure every file is put together in exactly the order she recommends.
From there, Pip’s day turns in a different direction with a break for lunch, plus a refueling in the form of the digital team’s candy of choice: Halloween candy pumpkins.
Pip is also in charge of production for all of Parragon’s eBook content on the iBookstore, Nook, & Kobo worldwide. Today, she’s gearing up to release our new cookbook A Year Full of Recipes. From the moment she receives the files used to create the print books, eBook creation can take up to two whole days of preparing and converting into the right formats, taking care to make sure the book looks as great on a screen as it does on the page.
While she’s running basic checks on the cookbook files, it’s time for a catch up call with the boss! Pip fuels up on some more candy pumpkins and catches up with Venetia Davie, head of new business development, to touch base on where things are at with the digital production schedule through 2013 and what’s new with the systems project. “We’re constantly reviewing our digital publishing list,” she says, “asking questions like is the workload appropriate? Is there too much on the schedule? Should this new addition to the print book schedule be digitized?”
After her call, Pip packs up her things and heads off to the airport – she’s got a plane to catch! After some light airport shopping (“I forgot my headphones at home!”), she finishes checking the eBook files on the plane and then catches a few hours of sleep before landing in the UK.
Upon arriving in London, a car takes her to Parragon’s head office in Bath, where it’s already Friday morning. She heads straight to the office for meetings, including a training session with all of Parragon’s design teams to implement new design and file preparation training that will help every team work faster, cut down on costs, and make the publishing process easier. She also checks in with each individual department, asking questions to make sure that everyone feels like they have the tools and resources they need to best do their work.
“I’m constantly thinking about the state of our files,” she explains. “How do we archive them? Where are they right now, and how do we make them more readily available and usable? What will make the publishing process better?”
Pip feels confident that the answer to that question lies in evolving data and file management, in publishing the right books for digital, and most importantly, in candy pumpkins.