Static Sites for Publisher Content

29 April 2017

Publishers, online books, online content, static sites, Digital Library

Static Sites are in the spotlight right now and publishers need to be aware of their power and potential for digital content business.

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Static Sites are in the spotlight right now and publishers need to be aware of their power and potential. To quickly explain what a static site is:

Static web site pages are delivered to the user exactly as stored.

Dynamic web site pages are generated by a web application.


Publisher business context

Browser power has increased amazingly in the last few years. Browsers are effectively stand-alone operating systems. There is a lot of interesting action that can be carried out between a static web page and a user's browser with the assistance of Javascript, available APIs and connected supporting solutions.

Static pages are faster and more load tolerant than dynamic web pages; plus browsers handle static page caching issues elegantly. (IE. If the static web page has changes to any files the browser will update the local cache.)

Static Sites are one of the digital content delivery formats in IGP:Digital Publisher (DP). Using IGP:Digital Publisher the same IPG:FoundationXHTML (FX ⇱) file that is used to produce print and e-books can also be used to publish a static site.

Every publisher should be looking at Static Sites to understand them and evaluate this approach as an option for the delivery of their content directly to end-users.

Even if a static site is not used for a full book it is great for previews and can have links to e-commerce sites.

Static sites can do a lot

IGP:Digital Publisher has had static sites as one of the output formats since 2012. The important difference between IGP:Digital Publisher (DP) and other Static Website Generators is that DP is designed to address the many production complexities required for all types of publisher book content. That means:

  • Trade fiction and non-fiction books
  • Academic books, journals and research information
  • K-12 and Tertiary education textbooks and reference material
  • Institution and enterprise reporting and documentation

The DP production strategy means complex books are easily handled with features such as linked Index terms, pop-up notes, footnotes, glossaries, full interactivity, multi-language handling and linking to supplementary Internet resources.

With DP one master FX file can be created, authored, edited and reviewed. Then from the same master content source multiple formats are available at the click of a button. That means:

  • PDFs (print, online)
  • e-books (Mobi and Kindle, ePub reflowable and/or fixed layout)
  • stand-alone Web-apps
  • transfer packages (Eg: SCORM for LMS systems, archive packages)
  • Static Sites (of course)

This is the power of using the right digital content production environment.

IGP:Formats on Demand with the Static Site format options highlighted.

We use our own tools

All of the Infogrid Pacific websites are static sites  (and there are a number of them with a lot of pages). This blog article was authored in DP and with a single click published online as a static web page. Even the SVG graphic was created in the IGP:Digital Publisher.

Each page has SEO metadata inserted and external linking of file resources such as fonts. The statistic tools (Chartbeat and Pywik)  and Disqus comments are inserted at static site format generation time. Then the page is sent for indexing on the site search engine (a separate server). All of this happens transparently, automatically and very quickly.

IGP:Digital Library is a static site

The IGP:Digital LIbrary (DL) ⇱ online book delivery is also a static site concept. In this case HTML5 files are uploaded, processed and "parked" in their online delivery ready location. TDL has APIs to back-end servers for user authentication, administration and full text search. But the book content is all stand-alone static pages.

IGP:Digital Library Categories interface. You can have as many controlled categories as you need to deliver your business models to your clients.

Why Publishers should care

2017 is going to be an interesting year for digital publishing. Technology is advancing so fast the EPUB book format will fall to the side for much content.

Digital trade books will plod on with Apple/Amazon as the primary delivery systems because of the so-called "discoverability" challenges.

Education, training, institution, corporate and academic publishers need to be seriously aware of Static Site delivery option for their content to their controlled audiences as their markets rapidly change to exploit digital content.

The sort of content that can be published is pretty much anything. That includes:

  • Trade books. Consider a sample chapter site with links to e-retailer sites
  • Academic content. Books, journals, proceedings, research information with secure rules based delivery to institutions where you have access agreements in place.
  • Education content. Full textbook content and/or supplementary learning resources. And those additional resources can be fully interactive without the limitations of the ePub3 specification and inconsistent reading system support of interactivity. This can be made secure and only accessible to users with the digital textbook (especially if you are using AZARDI).
  • Training content. Business and institution training course content can be easily made available to controlled audiences. It can be linked from digital books and to existing LMS systems if required. It can be incredibly interactive and is not limited by the cut and paste interactivity of LMS system.
  • Other Published Content. There are many organizations that have valuable content that needs to be authored, maintained and made available to a controlled audience.

Publishers of all content categories owe it to themselves to evaluate a Static Site or Digital Libraryt strategy for their published content. It's low cost. Its powerful.

Cost example

If a publisher wants to use static sites they are very low cost to create and maintain (other than the web page and content production). We use the Amazon Web Services (AWS) S3 (Simple Storage Solution) and it is very cost effective. A smaller publisher may find that it costs nothing for the first year because of the free tier structure. (There are a number of other cloud services but we have no experience with them).

Infogrid Pacific operate a lot of servers and storage buckets in all AWS regions around the world. In addition we maintain sites and servers for many of our software clients.

References and more information on static sites

This Smashwords article Why Static Site Generators Are The Next Big Thing gives some good background on the whys, wheres and hows of static sites. Warning it is very long and techy.


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