Harlequin Enterprises publishes a new title every six hours of every day. Each might be published in as many as 32 different languages, and each has scores of associated digital assets including, of course, those legendary covers. Once approved, files are shared with retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, publicists and authors, print partners and more.
Harlequin chose Canto Cumulus (more than 9 years ago) to organize, track and distribute its massive digital asset collection.
More than 60 years in the business, Harlequin has learned a thing or two about publishing efficiency. Based entirely on a PDF workflow, the publishing giant successfully juggles some 35,000 projects annually, and it use Cumulus to manage it all.
Harlequin's digital publishing efforts began in the 1990s when Production Specialist, Peter van Gageldonk, set out to migrate his company's film-based production workflows to PDF, as he explains.
"It was clear that a PDF workflow would make Harlequin's new productions more efficient, but we also had to digitize decades of history. We had an archive that was growing in two directions."
Harlequin developed an in-house file management utility, which was a good first step, but as the archive grew, so grew the demand for faster global access.
"We needed a DAM system that was flexible enough for us to learn best-practices on the fly, and robust enough to handle the workload we saw coming."
Harlequin now manages all it's digital assets from one central location, and users worldwide have self- serve access to everything they need—from artwork to ebook—all via Canto Cumulus.
The fact that metadata already entered into his first system could be migrated to Cumulus was important to van Gageldonk.
"It wasn't practical to further develop our inhouse system, but that didn't mean I wanted to start from scratch. We had a lot of valuable metadata in there that I didn't want to lose."
The fast and flexible search capabilities Cumulus offered sweetened the deal further.
"Using Cumulus, we can instantly search for books by author, series, title or ISBN. Searches that previously took minutes, now take seconds."
Van Gageldonk also liked knowing he could always extend the core functionality of Cumulus through add-ons provided by Canto partners.
"With so many companies developing add-ons for Cumulus, I knew the base product could always be extended. This was a huge plus for us."
In fact, Harlequin today uses several add-ons to increase user productivity and enhance usability.
To ensure Toronto-based Harlequin had fast access to local experts, Canto called in Canadian partner, Otec Solutions.
"Otec showed us how to deploy a successful system. They explained things we hadn't thought of, and they've been offering guidance ever since."
Van Gageldonk had spent a month with his Cumulus trial license when he brought in Otec to answer some last-minute questions. He went live shortly thereafter.
"Cumulus was very straightforward and understandable. I didn't have to pay someone $10,000 to learn how Cumulus worked, and I liked that."
Van Gageldonk's deployment strategy was launch fast and fine-tune later—a strategy made possible by the forgiving nature of Cumulus.
"At first we tried to reflect the way the OS organizes things, but we realized there was no point in reinventing the wheel. In time, Cumulus helped us recognize what we could do differently."
Once the system was live, van Gageldonk saw opportunities for improvement, and he acted.
"I can change things in our Cumulus catalogs—add fields, change layouts, workflows, and even change how assets are stored and tracked—all without ever disrupting production."
The adoption of Cumulus at Harlequin has been impressive. Marketing and production departments use Cumulus to reference older titles for style consistency, and to visually verify orders, which reduces fulfillment errors.
Overseas partners access Cumulus via the Modula4 Web Module to browse covers and download text for localization.
Searching and maintaining archives has become more efficient too, especially for legacy projects.
"Cumulus has given us a new window into our old, pre-PDF archives, because it's now just as easy to track and find those files too."
But, more than just making things faster and more efficient, Cumulus helps protect Harlequin from distribution errors.
"Cumulus tracks asset histories and status, so we can now distribute the right version every time."
Harlequin and Cumulus have enjoyed a long, productive romance that van Gageldonk sees continuing.
"Cumulus enables Harlequin to manage its history and its future, all from a single source. Cumulus and Otec have become indispensable partners to us over the past decade."