Electric Book Works Publishing reinvented for the digital age

Searchable, shareable stories on organised crime

The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime develops innovative strategies for tackling organized crime. This includes producing eye-opening stories that need to be read by law enforcement, government, researchers, and journalists. No matter who or where you are, you’d probably find their work as fascinating as we do.

A computer screen showing the landing page of a Risk Bulletin: a broad blue semicircle with text overlaid, and then text on a white background.

The brief

For years, the Global Initiative has been publishing good-looking PDFs, which anyone can download. But these only go so far. Search engines don’t like to include PDFs in search results. You can’t easily share a PDF on social media. You can’t link to a specific section of a story when it’s buried in a PDF. And you can’t tell which stories in a PDF people are searching for and reading most often.

Sheets of A4-sized paper printed with the opening page of a Risk Bulletin.

So the Global Initiative needed to turn these PDFs into proper web pages. Proper web pages would appear more often in web searches, and be much better for sharing as links on social media and email. They’d be able to tell which specific stories are popular. And the stories would also be properly searchable on the Global Initiative’s own website.

At the same time, they would still need good-looking PDFs, because many important stakeholders (including funders) really like the concreteness of a PDF.

For more detail on comparing web vs PDF publications, see our post ‘Should your publications be web books?’

The Global Initiative publishing team approached Electric Book Works to make this happen, starting with their Risk Bulletins. Risk Bulletins are short publications from the Global Initiative’s regional observatories.

Sheets of A4-sized paper printed with a page from a Risk Bulletin showing a map and text.

The work

EBW set out to create and manage a digital, single-source workflow for the Risk Bulletins:

  • All Risk Bulletins would be stored in one place, and we’d generate web and PDF versions simultaneously from that single source.
  • All content would be automatically version-controlled, and accessible to the team online.
  • All Risk Bulletins would be fully integrated into the Global Initiative website’s search index.
  • Users would be able to switch instantly between languages on each Risk Bulletin.
  • Each story in a Risk Bulletin would be a separate web page, with visits measured separately, so that the Global Initiative team would know exactly which stories have the most impact.
  • All visual design would be a seamless blend of the Global Initiative’s existing website and PDF designs.

It took about six months to digitise the Global Initiative’s full backlist of 75 Risk Bulletins, each of which are published in multiple languages. At the same time, we managed the production of their new Risk Bulletins, once the Global Initiative team had finalised the text and images.

For each one, our in-house team carefully digitised the source material, which included Word, InDesign, PDF, Illustrator, and image files. This involved tagging the text and, wherever possible, creating accessible SVG versions of images. And then we worked closely with the Global Initiative’s web agency, Café, to integrate the Risk Bulletins into their existing website.

Two pages from a Risk Bulletin showing a graph, image and text. Two pages from a Risk Bulletin showing a map and text.

See the result

You can browse the entire catalogue of Risk Bulletins on the Global Initiative website. Within each Risk Bulletin, like this one, you’ll see a button to download the PDF that our system generates. And you’ll see buttons for switching between languages, such as Macedonian and Serbian.

Next, we’re working with the Global Initiative team to publish more of their amazing work in the same way.

25 April 2023