INTERVIEW | Produce versatile text-driven books of exceptional quality (ENG)

In this interview, Crius Group’s CEO, Jurgen Willems, gives his thoughts on some of the challenges impacting the publishing landscape today and how he wants Core to transform the production workflow.

De auteur

Jurgen Willems

Managing Director bij Crius Group

Crius Group has served publishers for decades and is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2019. It began as a typesetting company with a focus on process optimization, and today, accelerating the production process lies at the heart of everything Crius Group does. Its mission is to combine a long history of design expertise with technical knowledge, to help publishers get the highest quality print and digital books to market faster. Whilst market share of digital books continues to grow, there’s no sign of demand for print going away any time soon. With its new solution - Core - Crius Group is focused on helping publishers blend print and digital media to produce versatile books of exceptional quality.

What was your original vision for Core and how does this fit with Crius Group’s wider strategy?

“Most of our clients partner with Crius Group for our straightforward approach, knowledge of the publishing industry and our ability to handle large volumes of manuscripts through automisation. We’ve used these assets to help publishers of text-driven books and also believe there’s a big opportunity to transform the production workflow for crime and fiction publishers. So we set ourselves the challenge of really understanding the needs of these publishers and building the technology that would meet those needs.

What we saw were lots of publishers struggling with high typesetting costs but, at the same time, needing to deliver high-quality design and formatting to remain competitive. Our biggest challenge was determining the parts of the production process that would really benefit from automisation, whilst recognising where it can’t replace human input. To produce the highest quality publications, a manual check is always needed.

We were really lucky to pilot Core with Overamstel Publishers, whose feedback helped us address the very specific challenges Crime and Fiction publishers commonly face. We wanted to use techniques that are well-known and relied on in the industry. At the same time, we needed that same solution to be cost-effective, substantially cut time to market, and make files accessible 24/7.

Our goal is always to forge long-term partnerships on a basis of trust, and we understand how important that is for publishers too. This belief underlies our licensing model and means we don’t ask publishers for a big entrance or renewal fees. Over the past 4 years, we’ve helped publishers reduce their price per page by up to 50%, which we’re looking to improve on over time as Core's technology improves.”

Many publishers now feel more confident that striking the right balance between automation and manual typesetting can deliver premium quality at a lower cost.

Jurgen Willems

Managing Director

How have you seen the challenges and priorities of the publishers you serve change over the past few years?

“It’s difficult to comment on industry as a whole, because this varies so much depending on the area of publishing. Educational publishers are confronted with a steep rise in adaptive learning and the market being flooded with new platforms and technologies, so their focus is shifting from book production to adaptable content creation. Scientific publishers are increasingly offshoring production to cut costs - some are succeeding with this - but others experience quality and communication issues, which can have a big impact on their business.

Publishers of crime and fiction have been dealing with declining sales for a while. At the same time eBooks and audiobooks continue to grow in popularity. The market now seems more or less stabilised, but many publishers have become more dependent on bestsellers. These changes have resulted in fiction publishers, in particular, becoming very cost-conscious. Reducing the number of full-time employees; working with more freelancers; and purchasing print abroad are just some of the tactics they’re using to become leaner.

"At one time, cutting typesetting costs was a ‘no-go’ because of concerns over how it would affect quality. Many publishers now feel more confident that striking the right balance between automation and manual typesetting can deliver premium quality at a lower cost. But adapting to this production style can have a big impact on an organisation. Desk editors need the time and training to adapt and work with new software and new techniques. Sometimes this transition can run smoothly, but we’ve spoken to lots of publishers who were reluctant to make the change or don’t believe in the benefits it can deliver. That’s why first-class training, support and account management are as important as the software itself and this is something we’ve worked hard to perfect at Crius group.”

What do you believe Core delivers to the market that no other competitor solution can?

“Core isn’t just about the software. It’s a combination of intuitive, user-friendly technology, packaged with a range of support services that mean it can adapt to the specific challenges of any publisher. Core is built using software and techniques that are well known in the industry. Manuscripts can be written and structured in MS Word, and we use InDesign for typesetting and InCopy for proofreading. Most importantly, all files are stored in the cloud and accessible at any time. That means editors and production teams can access and adapt their content 24/7, and if they choose to switch to another partner they can leave and take their files without any obstacle. Our partners say this gives them a level of freedom they haven’t experienced before.

Core generates the first proof automatically, to significantly speed up production and reduce costs. After copy editing, we provide a personal typesetting service to ensure the best quality. Combining a partly automated process with typesetting services that use the latest techniques and offering this to publishers - without locking them in to a lengthy contract - is something we believe is unique.”

Core already has lots of happy clients in the Netherlands and Belgium, and we’re now really excited to be expanding into the wider European market.

Jurgen Willems

Managing Director

How has Crius Group responded to new technologies and developments in the publishing industry with Core and what are your future plans for the platform?

“In addition to PDF files formatted for print publications, our publisher clients get the ePub version for free.  This version will always be compliant with the latest international standards. Because Core's technology adapts easily, we’re able to continuously improve the product and be confident that it will deliver high-quality, industry-standard formats for our clients.

Our vision for Core is simple:

  • reduce costs without concessions to quality;
  • shorten the time to market;
  • give publishers 24/7 access to their files.

We’re working to improve the user experience so that Core can be used by more people in publishing organisations and support an evolving workflow. Core already has lots of happy clients in the Netherlands and Belgium, and we’re now really excited to be expanding into the wider European market.”

Crius Group

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