CORE: Translating publishers’ needs into transformative technology

Jordy Willems
De auteur

Jordy Willems

Services Manager bij Crius Group

Crius Group has three business units: Technology, Publishing Services and Editorial Services. In his role as Services Manager, Jordy Willems is responsible for the publishing and editorial departments. Over the past few years he has been instrumental in developing a solution that combines editorial and publishing technology, working very closely with Crius Group’s customers. The result is CORE: a new solution that aims to transform the production workflow for text-driven publishers. 

In this interview, Jordy talks about what inspired CORE and the editorial, production, and cost-related challenges it aims to solve for a wide range of publishers.

What was the inspiration for developing CORE?

“For the past 30 years, Crius Group has provided typesetting services to a wide range of publishers, from educational specialists like ThiemeMeulenhoff and VAN IN, to global scientific publishers such as Wolters Kluwer. We didn’t serve crime and fiction publishers until a few years ago, as we found that they were more reluctant to outsource manuscript typesetting because of perceived problems related to automation and standardisation. Many of these publishers also had longstanding relationships with existing suppliers and didn’t want to change these."

"Striking the right balance between standardisation and diversity of layout was a very important thing for us to get right."

"What we also saw was that many of these same publishers had a real need to reduce their typesetting costs, but were very cautious about switching to cheaper, more automated services for the reasons mentioned above. There was a pressing need to solve this very common challenge for fiction publishers, but to do it in a way that, rather than compromising the quality of their publications, would enhanced it. In developing CORE we were also very conscious of the fact that publishers want to adopt more efficient, leaner production processes that don’t involve masses of print and wasted paper. Today, CORE supports the entire production workflow – from manuscript to publication - without the need to print single page.”

Who did you talk to when developing CORE and how did this help shape the product?

“One of the biggest benefits of CORE is its ability to reduce production costs without compromising quality, which is crucial for senior management trying to drive successful businesses in an increasingly competitive market place and with squeezed margins. But the advantages of our platform go well beyond cost-saving. CORE works with templates, and in developing it we had lots of discussions with production managers about how these templates would best work with different formats and typography. Striking the right balance between standardisation and diversity of layout was also a very important thing for us to get right. Because CORE works with standard publishing tools like MS Word, InDesign and InCopy, our team is in constant communication with desk editors. We don’t only help them to use our tools in the right way, we also learn from their practices and priorities to continually improve our technology.”

How long did CORE take to develop and what were some of the challenges you experienced along the way?

“Four years ago, we worked with Overamstel Publishers to implement a proof of concept over several months. After a period of testing, feedback, and enhancements, CORE was ready to roll out to other publishers. Probably one of the biggest challenges we had was convincing desk editors of the value of working in a very different way from what they were used to. Structured Word documents, the use of Word macros, and InCopy were very new to almost every desk editor we spoke to. Luckily, we were able to work closely with one of the editors at Overamstel Publishers, who took on the role of ambassador. He took care of all first line support, but it still took time for staff throughout the organisation to be able to start incorporating CORE into their daily work."

"Our customers quickly start to see a marked impact on their production processes and reduced lead times."

"There’s certainly time commitment and effort needed to successfully implement the solution, but after this phase, our customers quickly start to see a marked impact on their production processes and reduced lead times. Another important part of our service is that we never let a manuscript make it to publication without rigorous Quality Control by one of Crius Group’s typesetters.”

How do you see CORE changing the way publishers work?

“CORE is a faster, cheaper and more environmentally friendly way of publishing. Using the CORE technology, our customers are now able to work in a more digital and autonomous way. There’s no doubt that at the beginning, investment is needed in integration and training, to make sure everyone using the platform benefits from faster processes. But the payoff from this investment kicks in quickly after the training and implementation period, and Crius Group supports every step of the process.”

What has the initial feedback from publishers been to CORE?

“Many of the publishers we spoke to were attracted by the idea of cost reduction, but lots of them were sceptical about whether CORE was the right solution for them. Some were put off by the idea of a completely new way of working, and were reluctant to try it. But of the publishers that tried it first, we saw the majority of editors embrace the technology quickly and really change their opinion of it.

"Of the publishers that tried CORE first, we saw the majority of editors embrace the technology quickly."

"Our main advantage, besides the solution itself, is that we have people with typographic skills who work closely with desk editors. Experience has shown us that publishers want and need this extra support. And they also want to talk directly to a specialist at any time instead of relying on standard support guides which can’t address some of their very specific needs.”

How do you expect CORE to develop and evolve over the coming years?

“We believe CORE has lots of potential to adapt to the needs of publishers in very different areas. As we roll it out across Dutch speaking territories, we’re expecting to see the system used by the editorial departments of publishers with many different focuses. Adoption will naturally drive ongoing improvement to CORE’s technology and help editors and publishers work in a more efficient and intuitive way. We believe that CORE is the answer for publishers who want to reduce costs but don’t want to sacrifice quality for price.”