Low-budget e-publishing: the Case of the Electronic Codex

A small publishing house was faced with market demands for CD-based versions of their printed "codexes", which are collections of legal documents. The niche market that they operated in was such that they would never be able to sell more than a few hundred copies of each publication. All codexes were regularly updated, some as frequently as four times per year. Existing CD publishing solutions without exception seemed cost-prohibitive.

What was achieved

Looking not at specialist CD publishing software but at what was already available, we developed a set of routines, some manual and some automated, that worked the PDF format to its fullest. The user interface of the product was carefully crafted so that it could be implemented in PDF. As a result, without any initial investment the CD Roms can be produced complete with navigation buttons, hyperlinked tables of contents, index pages, and multiple search facilities.

The publisher sends us the PDF files from which the print version is made, and we return to them a zip file containing the complete contents of the CD ready for burning. This typically takes two days. The resulting CD Roms run off the disc, and do not require any installation on the end user's PC.

What it took

First, we had a good look around and drew up an inventory of all possible solutions where both the viewing and the programming environments were effectively cost-free to use. Together with the client, a solution was selected which offered all the functionality that was wanted. Then we implemented the tools necessary to allow us to take the existing PDF used for the print version as input, and produce a fully-fledged electronic version.