In the News: HighWire Partners with Tizra to Expand Ebook Integration

by | Jul 23, 2013 | 0 comments

By Paula J. Hane

HighWire Press, a leading e-publishing platform for scholarly publishers, has announced a strategic partnership with Tizra to extend ebook functionality and integration to the HighWire Open Platform. Folio is a new extension of the Open Platform that will have its first release at the end of 2013. The Tizra integration will be part of the Folio solution and will offer social sharing options at the page level, better chapter navigation, greater support for mobile devices, and greater ebook discovery through search engine optimization. Tizra’s web-based platform helps to streamline both ebook discovery and selling.

HighWire provides online hosting and technology solutions to publishers, management tools for librarians, and unique search functionality for researchers. The HighWire Open Platform is a content integration platform meant to support a wide range of scientific and scholarly publications. The platform is designed to seamlessly connect researchers and readers to their most sought-after subject matter, across both ebook and journal formats, keeping them engaged longer. The integrated approach to content leverages traffic from journal sites to promote and increase use of the publisher’s related book content.

HighWire Verso was HighWire’s first ebook solution for publishers. It is meant for publishing a single title per site, such as a reference book. For example, the AAP Red Book Online is a large full-text HTML medical reference work with multiple editions hosted simultaneously; it includes automated subject-based linking to the AAP Pediatrics journal.

The newly developed HighWire Folio with the Tizra extended functionality will offer publishers the opportunity to integrate their multiple content types—books, journals, figures, data, etc.—in one highly discoverable web-based service.

“Discovery in the ebook environment goes beyond search—it is the end to end path that a reader takes in finding, assessing, and making a decision to invest in a book, whether that investment is time or money,” noted Tara Robenalt, director of product management at HighWire. “With the addition of Tizra’s ebook reader features, HighWire publishers can blend books alongside their e-journals, offering an integrated cross-content solution that falls into the reader’s natural workflow.”

Tom Rump, managing director of HighWire, said, “We considered many alternatives before selecting Tizra, but concluded that their nimble ebook tools best complemented the HighWire Open Platform, helping us expand our focus on discoverability and creating the most intuitive user experience.”

HighWire Folio Ebook Solution

Here are the features that HighWire Folio+Tizra will offer:

  • Page-by-page viewing compatible with any browser
  • Easy-to-read display, chapter navigation and page views, focusing on the page-turning experience
  • Social sharing options (Twitter, Facebook, bookmarking) at the page level
  • Increased discoverability through search engine optimization and the ability to provide readers with cross-content recommendations
  • Mobile optimization using responsive and adaptive design to support access and viewing on smartphones and tablets
  • Intuitive tools available to editorial staff giving them direct control over content updates

In 2011, HighWire announced it was partnering with TEMIS to “integrate the full suite of Luxid software within its ePublishing Platform to provide automated content annotation, enrichment, and linking to its customers.” The semantically enriched content feeds into the HighWire recommendation engine. This capability will also be offered as part of Folio as an extra charge.


Tizra says that Tizra Publisher is the fastest way to get all your content online under your own brand, with advanced features including flexible access control and ecommerce, highly targeted search, total control over web design and powerful content management, all accessible through an easy to use web control panel.

Tizra provides a web-based publishing platform that serves as a viable option for ebooks and ebook businesses. It avoids the pain of ebook conversion and proprietary formats. It empowers non-technical people to bring together content and an audience. It works on any device with a web browser—desktops, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices.

President and COO of Tizra, Abe Dane has been working in publishing and e-commerce for 25 years, at Popular Mechanics, Hearst New Media, MIT, and Ingenta. At Hearst in 1994, he launched the company’s first magazine branded web site. At Ingenta, he worked on projects for organizations including Oxford University Press and Gale, and headed development of information commerce and custom website software.

In a blog post announcing the partnership with HighWire, Dane notes that, “[T]he real proof of the collaboration’s value is the response from the marketplace, with organizations including Project MUSE (Johns Hopkins University Press), Duke University Press, and GeoScienceWorld already signed on in advance of the product’s launch. Clearly, the increased discoverability, ease of use and agility resulting from the collaboration are what publishers—and readers—are looking for.”

As previously announced, all e-Duke Books Scholarly Collection content will be available on the new HighWire Folio ebook platform in December 2013. The current 2013 collection will be unaffected by this change and will continue to be hosted by ebrary through the end of this year

Tizra was founded in 2006 by an experienced team of custom website builders, who had worked on high-end XML projects with clients like McGraw Hill, World Bank, and Oxford University Press. After 2 years of development work, the Tizra Publisher product went live in 2008. Some of its first clients were MIT Press and Indiana University Press.

In November 2012, Joe Wikert blogged about Tizra’s presentation at O’Reilly Tools of Change. “Tizra empowers publishers to be responsive to market feedback, and encourages them to take ownership of user relationships….I want to encourage all publishers to look beyond the current standards of mobi and EPUB. Platforms like Tizra show what’s possible in the web-based content delivery world.”

I asked Dane about the choice of the name Tizra. One of the company founders, Dr. David Durand came up with the idea. Tizra is a tree used in the tanning of Moroccan leather book binding. So, just as a book binding makes the content more beautiful, Tizra hopes to enhance digital content. Tizra is headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, and funded in part by Rhode Island’s Slater Technology Fund.

Customer Examples

Columbia University Press adopted Tizra as the platform for its new online brand, CUPOLA, which sells academic and trade ebooks direct to readers. Tizra’s integrated ecommerce and content management made it easy for CUP to test a variety of sales models and delivery formats, including chapter-at-a-time sales, e-reader compatible downloads, and web only subscriptions. And with Tizra’s design tools, CUP was able to leverage in-house resources in applying the desired branding.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has been a customer for some years. This is a comment from the Publications Program office staff in response to my query about ARL Digital Publications.

Several years ago, after exploring the digital publishing options available at the time, the Association of Research Libraries chose the Tizra platform for a pilot project. In 2009 we launched Research Library Issues: A Report from ARL, CNI, and SPARC (RLI) as a freely-available, online-only publication. Based on the success of that project, ARL chose Tizra’s e-commerce option to deliver digital editions of our flagship publications ARL StatisticsARL Annual Salary Survey, and SPEC Kits starting in 2011.

The staff at Tizra have been endlessly supportive as we learn how to use the platform. They have helped us improve our site and our users experience with functionality upgrades and design tweaks. They are now helping us deliver publications that will be accessible to users with print disabilities. We have been very pleased with our Tizra experience overall and anticipate an ongoing relationship.

HighWire Press

HighWire Press provides digital content development and hosting solutions to the scholarly publishing community. A division of the Stanford University Libraries, HighWire has partnered with influential societies, university presses, and other publishers since 1995 to produce the definitive online versions of peer-reviewed journals, books, reference works, and other scholarly content. The underlying infrastructure of HighWire’s Open Platform is web-services-oriented, flexible, and permeable, allowing scholarly publishers to easily layer new software and services to their sites that will meet the ever changing needs of today’s online and mobile readers.

On its website, HighWire Press says it is “the largest archive of free full-text science on Earth! As of 7/17/13, we are assisting in the online publication of 2,368,644 free full-text articles and 7,117,408 total articles. There are 74 sites with free trial periods, and 78 completely free sites. 278 sites have free back issues, and 1344 sites have pay per view!”

Robenalt also provided these numbers:

Number of journals online with HighWire: 1,774+ (2,365 by the end of 2014)

Number of books online: 1,100+ (33,000 by the end of 2014)

It hasn’t been easy for HighWire in recent years. According to industry observers, it went through some growing pains when it introduced its H2O platform in 2008. It lost some key customers, particularly in the medical fields. The American Medical Association (AMA) went through an extensive RFP process and made the decision to move to Silverchair Information Systems. The new AMA websites were launched in May 2013. The New England Journal of Medicine moved from HighWire to Atypon. In 2011 and 2012 there were significant changes and additions to the HighWire executive management team, designed to “accelerate its current platform and product development programs to speed the pace of innovation in key areas, as well as continue to build operational efficiencies.”

Now, with these recent customer wins and the Tizra partnership, HighWire looks poised to achieve its mission: to see independent scholarly publishers thrive. It looks like a win for all parties—HighWire and Tizra, publishers, libraries and their readers, and independent researchers.

Paula J. Hane is a freelance writer and editor covering the library and information industries. She was formerly Information Today, Inc.’s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks. Her email address is

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