With its roots in top quality repro and digital print for demanding fine-art and magazine publishers, Altaimage is today growing its business through development of complementary digital services that are centered around e-publishing to a variety of platforms.
Altaimage aims to be a one-stop shop for book publishers, offering what others can’t, from short-run digitally printed blads to added-value digital services that support and enhance printed products.
“We’re always eager to obtain tools that can enhance both the customer’s experience and ours; it gives us a reason to talk to our customers again,” explains joint managing director Rob King.
The quest to stay at the leading edge of new publishing technologies led to the company’s installation of ES in early 2011 (see The Magazine issue 13, p48). While this gave a flexible, flatplan-based model that both Altaimage and its customers could use easily via desktop web browser or mobile devices to preview, annotate, sign-off and send jobs to print, it also laid the foundations for a move into e-publishing, thanks to the new features that came with ES3.
Since then Altaimage has worked closely in partnership with DALIM SOFTWARE to build a portfolio of online capabilities that it collectively brands as ICE (Interactive Cloud Environment). With ES as the hub and also including TWIST for pre-flighting and PDF creation, this supports not only printing to an in-house digital press or wide-format printer, but also production of e-publications, thanks to ES3’s support for the EPUB 3 standard.
This allows Altaimage to enrich PDF-based publications with video content, 360-degree interactive
images and internal and external links. The resulting apps can be packaged for Kindle Fire and iOS devices, but the beauty of the ES-based system is that clients can preview this rich content in their web browsers via ICE before any platform-specific development is done.
Print and digital in parallel
Another key benefit is that when a publication is approved, output of e-publication versions can commence simultaneously with print production, which is increasingly important as major online retailers such as Amazon now insist on digital versions being available on the day of publication.
ES also supports production of e-publications in re-flowing formats, as required by Kindle readers, for example. Finished digital products can be bundled as apps or offered via the Dalim Kiosk feature, which enables the appearance and branding of the digital store to be controlled by Altaimage on behalf of its clients.
Familiarity with producing digital versions of publications that originate in print has enabled Altaimage to keep ahead of their clients’ expectations. A museum client wanted to include a DVD with a new book to provide high resolution versions of images for closer inspection, but Altaimage pointed out that tablet devi-
ces and the latest ultra-thin laptops don’t have DVD drives and suggested instead that a URL be put in the printed book; this leads to a dedicated site hosted by Altaimage where high-resolution images can be selectively streamed to the viewer’s browser. Altaimage already holds the high-resolution images, so it’s straightforward to provide this kind of online access.
New income opportunities
So far, Altaimage has provided its digital enhancement as an added-value service, and it has proved to be a powerful tool for expanding business with existing clients, as well as attracting the attention of new prospects.
Rob King enthuses, “ICE and ES give us all the pieces to drive the business now, we can go to clients with presentations that have a real ‘wow’ factor.” Mark Robson agrees, “It certainly opens doors to new clients; ‘we didn’t know you could do all this’ is a reaction that we get a lot now.”
The pair are excited by the new capabilities that ES4 will bring, but already on the strength of ES3 are pitching digital-only projects that will generate revenue through online advertising. The next 18 months should be at least as exciting for Altaimage as the last.