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Electronic Publishing

Electronic Publishing

by Steve Cunningham

In the past few years, the whole concept of publishing has undergone an enormous transformation. Publishers are no longer limited to paper and ink. Electronic publications can now incorporate text, images, sound, video, and interactive games and simulations. And publishing has become a more democratic activity — with the explosive growth of both the Internet


In the past few years, the whole concept of publishing has undergone an enormous transformation. Publishers are no longer limited to paper and ink. Electronic publications can now incorporate text, images, sound, video, and interactive games and simulations. And publishing has become a more democratic activity — with the explosive growth of both the Internet and CD-ROM technology, more and more people are publishing their own titles.There has been a huge growth in the CD-ROM installed base and the market for CD-ROM titles. There are tens of millions of CD-ROM drives installed, and the coming Digital Video Disc (DVD) format will bring many more. CD-ROMs have enormous capacity, and they are compact, durable, and inexpensive to manufacture, store, and ship. We're now seeing everything from games to educational products to reference and technical documents being delivered on CD-ROM.This book looks at the many kinds of electronic publications being produced today. Although it focuses on CD-ROM, the discussion is also relevant to publishing on the World Wide Web. Electronic Publishing on CD-ROM describes examples and alternatives for the design, authoring, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution of CD-ROMs. It covers electronic document authoring systems (e.g., Adobe's Acrobat, Macromedia's Director, Apple's HyperTalk, and more). It discusses traditional and emerging document standards and formats (e.g., SGML, HTML, and Java), as well as physical disc standards (e.g., ISO 9660, HFS). It also provides detailed information on the costs of CD-ROM publishing projects — staff, manufacturing, and phases of development. In addition, it includes an extensive list of resources and a helpful glossary and bibliography.Provided with this book is a a CD-ROM full of resources, including the text of portions of the book, in both Acrobat PDF and HTML form; freely available software for document authoring and browsing; demos of CD-ROM titles of various kinds; frequently asked question (FAQ) listings about CD-ROM publishing, data compression, different types of file formats (image, audio, and font formats), JPEG, MPEG, and Java; and much more.This book is divided into four parts:Part I, Overview of Electronic Publishing, contains the following:

  • Chapter 1, Electronic Publications, describes what electronic publications are and why they have become so popular. It discusses the special qualities of electronic documents, touches on a number of emerging technologies, and looks briefly at intellectual property issues for electronic publishing.
  • Chapter 2, CD-ROM and Online Publishing, examines the pros and cons of publishing on CD-ROM and on the Internet. It also looks at hybrid products that take advantage of both publishing models.
  • Chapter 3, Two Electronic Titles, profiles two very different kinds of CD-ROM titles. Isaac Asimov's The Ultimate Robot, is a professionally produced, mass market "edutainment" product, which blends education and entertainment. The electronic version of the Association of Computing Machinery's (ACM's) SIGGRAPH group's conference proceedings is a volunteer-produced technical title.Part II, CD-ROM Development, contains the following:
  • Chapter 4, Developing a CD-ROM, provides an overview of the CD-ROM development process, from initial product planning through final production of the CD-ROM image. It discusses the staffing that is required for most development projects, and provides cost estimates for several different types of projects.
  • Chapter 5, Designing Electronic Documents, discusses a variety of design issues for CD-ROMs, in areas of overall title navigation, graphics, user interface, sound, digital video, and software.
  • Chapter 6, Authoring Systems, examines what makes a good authoring system for electronic documents and looks at a number of examples of systems being used today, including Director, HyperCard, Acrobat, GainMomentum, Media Tool, and HTML.
  • Chapter 7, Electronic Document Standards, summarizes a variety of standards for electronic documents, in areas of text (e.g., SGML, HTML), page description (e.g., PostScript, PDF), network (e.g., Java, VRML), image (e.g., formats such as BMP and TGA, and compression methods such as RLE and JPEG), digital video (e.g., QuickTime, MPEG), and sound (e.g., MIDI).
  • Chapter 8, CD-ROM Disc Standards, describes the various CD-ROM standards, focusing on the ISO 9660 and HFS specifications.
  • Part III, CD-ROM Manufacturing, Marketing, and Distribution, contains the following:
  • Chapter 9, Manufacturing CD-ROMs, describes the process of manufacturing CD-ROMs, including production timelines, preparing data for manufacturing, and all of the production steps.
  • Chapter 10, CD-ROM Publishing Costs, provides concrete examples of CD-ROM publishing projects and the costs of developing, licensing, producing, testing, printing, mastering, manufacturing, shipping, and marketing.
  • Chapter 11, CD-ROM Marketing and Distribution, provides an overview of approaches to marketing titles to various audiences, and different distribution models for CD-ROMs.
  • Part IV, Appendices, contains the following:Appendix A, Resources, lists resources for organizations that provide CD-ROM hardware, software, and services.The Glossary defines the terms used in this book and in the electronic publishing business.The Bibliography provides references for further reading.

Editorial Reviews

Ray Duncan

The Plastic Silver Platter of Empowerment

"Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon filled with magtape, or a 747 filled with CD-ROMs." -- The New Hacker's Dictionary, MIT Press, 1993

While the World-Wide-Web has blossomed, CD-ROM -- previously the darling of all right-thinking and forward-looking electronic publishers -- has lost much of its glamour. But during the same period, CD-ROM drives have become standard equipment on new PCs, CD-ROM has become the preferred distribution medium for mass-market operating systems and applications, and CD-R (write-once) drives and pre-mastering software packages have decreased in price from $10,000 (and up) to around $500. In other words, while many of us were looking the other way, CD-ROM has finally attained the critical mass and commodity status its proponents were always hoping for.

Technologically, the ability to publish vast amounts of data or digitized images, sound, and video on a robust, indelible medium at nominal cost is now within the grasp of every owner of a PC or Macintosh.The technology, in fact, has become basically a no-brainer. But "power users" and software developers who set out to create a CD-ROM product with the idea that it is something like desktop-publishing a book soon find that it is a lot more like producing a movie. A business plan must be generated, financing must be arranged, creative content must be commissioned or licensed, packaging and the CD-ROM label must be designed, typeset, and rendered to film, vast amounts of copy must be written, up to 650 MB of software and data must be assembled in one place and validated, a user interface must be constructed and wrung out on a wide variety of hardware, a bullet-proof installation facility must be written and tested, and so on. In short, the logistics are complex, and a multi-disciplinary approach is mandatory.

What you want is an industry veteran or two to hold you by the hand and help you over the rough spots the first time around. The authors of Electronic Publishing on CD-ROM bring two different types of experience to the table: Cunningham has worked on successful technically-oriented CD-ROM projects (SIG-GRAPH conference proceedings), while Rosebush has helped put together mass-market "edutainment" CD-ROM titles ("Asimov's Ultimate Robot"). During the course of the book they methodically address almost every area you will need to worry about: the user interface, authoring tools, file systems, the mechanics of CD-ROM mastering and production, jewel boxes and inserts, marketing, distribution, licensing, and most importantly, straightforward models for estimating costs, profits, and staffing requirements. There are also nicely balanced discussions of the upcoming Digital Video Disk (DVD) media and players, and of the benefits and tradeoffs of CD-ROM vs. WWW electronic publishing.

Over the last two years, I have -- working mostly in isolation and on a shoestring budget -- published six specialty CD-ROMs of various types (the majority were for medical geneticists), and during that time I learned a great many painful lessons that I would much rather have read about in advance. This is not to say that I didn't look for such a book, but the books I did find were typically long on whiz-bang technology or descriptions of the author's pet projects or rosy predictions about the future, and short on practical advice. Electronic Publishing on CD-ROM arrived too late to help me, but just in time to help most of you.--Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books

Product Details

O'Reilly Media, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
9.19(w) x 7.04(h) x 1.02(d)

Meet the Author

Steve Cunningham- holds a Ph.D from the University of Oregon. He has served as Noyce Visiting Professor at Grinnell College and also holds the position of Gemperle Distinguished Professor of Computer Science emeritus at California State University, Stanislaus. He is a former President of ACM SIGGRAPH and received the SIGGRAPH Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2004. He is also a Eurographics Fellow. He has long been active in computer graphics education work and was a founder of both SIGGRAPH's Education Committee and Eurographics' Education Board.

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