An Independent Publisher Uses AutoMate BPA Server to Help Preserve Ancient Texts
George Kiraz, President and Co-Owner
Gorgias Press takes its motto, “Publishing for the sake of knowledge,” seriously. The independent, academic publishing house specializes in books and journals related to religious studies, ancient western Asia, Middle Eastern studies and the classics. Founded in 2001 by George Kiraz and his wife, Christine, as a press for scholars, run by scholars, it was important to make these rare, yet important, texts available to universities and research libraries.
Named after the Greek philosopher Gorgias, who was known for his rhetorical innovations in classical Greece, the Press hopes to make these specialty texts available for years to come. President and co-owner George, who received advance degrees in computational linguistics and Syriac from Oxford and Cambridge, established a press similar to his research interests. He soon found, however, that Gorgias Press was expanding to include more related areas, which meant a bigger demand had to be met.
Gorgias Press had embraced technology since its founding. With its specialty in old and rare books, the publishing house wanted to make sure all resources were made into electronic files to ensure they would never go out of print. But with an increased backlist of reprints waiting to be lifted from obscurity, George and his team faced one major problem: time.
It was a time consuming process to convert a physical, hard-bound book into an electronic file, which meant Gorgias Press could only publish a few dozen books a year. With most books around 300 pages, George was looking for a way to speed up the processes and knew automation was the way to go — but it all depended on a specific keyword. “I was actually looking for an [automation product] for three to four years, but I always Googled the wrong thing,” George said.
After George found Network Automation’s AutoMate BPA Server through a simple “automate” Google search, he quickly discovered AutoMate’s capabilities. George was looking for a tool to help throughout the entire production process, from scanning the first page to sending the complete document to the printers.
The process is started when a book is scanned into TIFF files, one file per page, one page at a time. AutoMate then converts these files to PDFs and compiles all the pages into one, single PDF. Another AutoMate task then changes the PDF page size by running an Acrobat batch file. Once all the pages are the correct size, another task creates the book cover in a PDF format using one of George’s in-house programs. But before the file is sent to the printers (which is also done through AutoMate), there is one more task that “distills” the PDFs. This is done by opening the PDF in Acrobat, saving it as a postscript file and loading the PS file via Acrobat Distiller. And from there, a hardbound book that was lost in the sea of obscure, academic libraries is now available for a new audience.
Before AutoMate, Gorgias Press has a catalog of 750 titles which was compiled over nine years. But afterwards, its collection ballooned to more than 4,000 titles in just two years. “AutoMate was really perfect for us,” George said, “Other packages were far cheaper, but AutoMate was more superior and extended into the future.”
After the first task was implemented, George realized how easy it was to automate any manual task, and quickly looked for other places within the company to use AutoMate. A micro task took one day for George and a part-time assistant to set up, while a more complicated task took a week. And within six months, George had nearly 250 tasks up and running, with half of those running daily. “AutoMate does the work of 10 employees,” George said. And with most of the processes running at night, George no longer has to wait for somebody else to finish a task.
With many departments at Gorgias Press (including production, acquisitions and customer service) already automated, George has plans to automate the marketing department — specifically the catalogue. By using AutoMate’s preset actions and George’s custom-built applications, George plans on having AutoMate analyze data on customers’ preferences to select items and prices for each month’s catalogue. And then AutoMate will send out the email.
“AutoMate revolutionized what we’re doing,” George said. “We went from publishing a few dozen books a year to hundreds of books a year.” AutoMate is even programmed to produce up to a thousand books a year, which is good news for universities, libraries and scholars who will once again get to flip through the pages of these valuable resources.