Digital Asset Management Books

The following DAM-related books are reviewed by DAM News editor, Ralph Windsor

Theresa Regli

Theresa Regli's book about DAM was published in August 2016 and covers many of the key topics enterprise DAM solution buyers are likely to be interested in. The title starts off with some key concepts and history about the origins of the DAM market, such as the different sectors where it developed in parallel (stock media, publishing and video). She describes the conceptual framework for an asset, noting that assets are composed of intrinsic value (which usually corresponds to a digital file) in combination with metadata.

There is a high level of technical detail about DAM contained within the text, including a good discussion explaining what ingestion is and in particular, the fact that both the essence (or file) and the metadata must be present at least in basic form before an asset exists. The information is both precise and in-depth. A number of conclusions are correct now, but might be on the verge of becoming out of date in the medium term. For example, there is a section about APIs which mentions that many vendors have implemented SOAP-based Web Services but that REST equivalents (which are more modern) tend not to be as prevalent. This is currently accurate, but it is a situation which is undergoing revision at present. If you are contemplating purchasing this book, ensure you get hold of a recent edition otherwise some sections may date quickly (this has been an issue with older DAM books in the past).

The latter chapters cover strategic considerations like support, vendor partnerships and placing DAM within the context of other frameworks (e.g. digital marketing). Theresa has addressed most of the implementation-oriented subjects that tend to occur in the course of most DAM implementation projects including how they interface with wider IT and systems considerations.

There are elements that are missing such as placing the subjects within the context of a business analysis or project management methodology. To be clear on the definitions, by ‘business analyst’ I do not mean industry analysis. I am referring to the IT sense of the term, someone who collects requirements and provides the interface between stakeholders and suppliers (which may include an IT department as well as a vendor). There are descriptions in the book which she states would be of interest for project managers, but these seem more like tactical implementation management. If you are a project manager who typically deals more with higher level subjects like risk management, quality management and budgets then these topics are more lightly covered.

The other aspect of this title which needs some work is the lack references and additional follow-up material written by other authors. A more comprehensive list of further reading materials should be provided where people can find out at least some of the inspiration/sources for the points made. Without the additional material, this can begin to come across a bit like a whitepaper rather than a learning resource.

Setting aside my recommendations for improvements, it is an excellent book which should be on any prospective reading list for those who need to learn more about Digital Asset Management.

Date Published: 9th August 2016
Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Rosenfeld Media
ISBN: 1933820721
David Diamond

David Diamond, is the author of another DAM textbook, The DAM Survival Guide. The title for David's most recent publication, Metadata For Content Management was chosen because David believes the subject has relevance to content-oriented solutions and strategies of all kinds, rather than just Digital Asset Management.

Although David works for a DAM vendor, his perspective is not technology-centric and it is clear that he has understood that for most end users, metadata that is critical to the implementation of a successful Digital Asset Management strategy because otherwise you lack a framework for your decision-making processes. Metadata is what transform the value of binary data into digital assets. If there isn't any metadata, there is no digital asset and is the reason why people originally consider DAM.

The book goes into some depth on the whole metadata realisation process, including strategy, schema design and methods of implementing metadata models using a content system such as a DAM solution. Many of the typical challenges that those planning metadata strategies may come up against are covered, including the different sub-categories of metadata. Towards the end of the title, a section is included where David assesses how metadata trends may develop in the future and this covers aspects like linked data and semantic relationships between entities (as represented by concepts like the semantic web).

Metadata For Content Management explains the key concepts of taxonomy and metadata model design and those who have little background in these areas will find the book to be of particular benefit. David's explanations of metadata and information architecture are some of the easiest to understand that I have read on the subject and make them accessible to a far wider audience than might have previously been the case.

Metadata For Content Management is one of the only books about DAM and content management technology which addresses the metadata element exclusively. While this is not the only subject that you need to think about to deliver Digital Asset Management initiatives, it certainly is the single most important one and as such, this book needs to be considered by anyone who has managerial responsibility for DAM in their organisation.

Date Published: 4th July 2016
Length: 184 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 1535087501
David Diamond

David Diamond's book was written in 2012 and was the first title to address the issue of how to establish and manage DAM initiatives. Many of the previously published reference works dealt with the topic from a technical or production oriented perspective and there was an obvious gap in the market which he was the first author to fill. A lot of information articles available on vendor or consultant blogs that were written since David's book was published are clearly influenced by his work.

The DAM Survival Guide makes no assumptions about the reader's prior knowledge and starts with some basic explanations of what the subject is all about. The opening chapter makes the comparison between Digital Asset Management and Physical Asset Management which frames the discussion in terms of logistics or supply chain management and is a good way to view the process of implementing and managing DAM initiatives.

The book contains numerous excellent points, not least of which is that the software is only one component of a DAM strategy and why you need to carefully define what you expect to get out of Digital Asset Management before you commence choosing products. Another is the distinction between content and files. David makes the observation that over a period of time as Cloud delivery methods become more prevalent, files will become less significant as containers for binary data and you will just send links instead.

Each of the major topics about DAM implementation is addressed: metadata (including taxonomies and controlled vocabularies), the key components of a DAM solution, DAM initiative team members, developing a plan, reviewing DAM solutions, working with consultants as well as the psychology of DAM users.

The DAM Survival Guide presents credible and real-world advice delivered by someone who has worked in the industry for over fifteen years. It is one of the two books about DAM that should be purchased by anyone who is already involved in Digital Asset Management or those who plan to become more acquainted with it.

A free 100 page excerpt of the book is available from David Diamond's employer, DAM vendor, Picturepark: There is also a blog with the same title also written by David: DAM Survival Guide

Date Published: 4th November 2012
Length: 184 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 1478287667
Elizabeth Keathley

Elizabeth Keathley's book was first published in March 2014, two years after DAM Survival Guide. A second edition came out in December 2015 with a preface by Henrik deGyor and also a chapter on risk management for DAM written by myself. A significant amount of the original text has been re-written along with updated diagrams and graphics.

This is the other major reference book about modern Digital Asset Management implementation. Elizabeth takes a more scholarly approach to the subject, but this is balanced with a lively style which keeps the reader engaged.

The background to DAM is covered, including explaining the origins, choosing solutions, staffing and then all of the major considerations like search, metadata, workflow design, hosting, migration as well as more technically sophisticated topics like image processing, databases, integration and advanced search/selection methods. Where the DAM Survival Guide is more like being introduced to the subject by an experienced professional insider, this book is closer to a structured training programme of the type you might get at a university or educational institution.

In addition to education and explanation, there is a fair amount of opinion in Elizabeth's title and some is at a reasonably high academic level (for example, there are points that make reference to political ideologies). Since the delivery is very professionally handled, this serves more as introductions to the debating points rather than sermonising and provides a perspective to the topic of DAM than many readers might not have considered otherwise. I must emphasise that this book is not an academic thesis, it is packed full of detailed and practical advice which you can put to work right away, but it does serve to illustrate that Digital Asset Management has some wider implications than just filing corporate logos and marketing photos.

If you are debating which book to purchase, given the relatively low cost, getting both still seems good value. Although the subject is the same, the treatment is different and they both compliment each other well. In my opinion, you can learn the fundamentals of DAM from just the these two texts alone.

The website of Elizabeth's DAM and metadata consulting firm, Atlanta Metadata Authority also includes links to an audio feed of the book for those who prefer to listen to it. A digital bundle containing PDF, HTML, and MOBI formats of the second edition is available as well on the same site.

Disclaimer: I am a contributor to this book.

Date Published: 29th December 2015 (2nd edition)
Length: 274 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 1517482887
Peter Krogh

This was one of the first books written about DAM and as the title suggests, it is highly oriented towards photographers. Rather than organisation-wide multi-user Digital Asset Management, The DAM Book is targeted at individuals who have to organise a collection of media that they themselves have originated (i.e photos they have shot, in this case). The title is still worth getting if you are either a photographer (where the advice is still unsurpassed) or if you are from a technical/software background and you need to understand many of the core functional requirements for DAM solutions and the priorities of asset originators (especially embedded metadata and copyright concerns). There are some subjects like metadata which do have a wider appeal also.

One recommendation I always make to people who plan to work in the DAM industry (for a career) is that they go away and organise some of their own collections of media so they understand what is involved. This seems particularly to apply to vendor marketing personnel as not enough of them have an adequate grasp of the subject to adequately represent the software products their firms develop. From that perspective, this book is a great practical guide on what to expect. The new edition also contains what looks like useful information for originators on how to copyright images, amongst other topics.

The website of The DAM Book also includes other titles by the author and their own bookshop - where you can buy the title direct.

Date Published: 7th May 2009
Length: 496 pages
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
ISBN: 0596523572
Tobias Blanke

This is more of an academic-oriented title covering the context of modern Digital Asset Management. The book makes the point that DAM has changed relatively quickly in a short period of time so that the description 'Digital Asset Ecosystems' is now becoming a more accurate description of the goal of many implementations.

If you are looking for a 'how to' guide with advice about choosing systems and metadata etc then this may not be suitable. However, if you have a deeper interest in the context of DAM and where it connects with other related emerging technologies then it is more interesting and covers some subjects which Elizabeth Keathley's book touches on but does not examine in as much detail. The author, Tobias Blanke is a lecturer and director of the MA in Digital Asset Management at King's College London. I believe he also attends the London DAM Meetups for anyone who is looking to engage in a more in-depth discussion about the direction DAM is heading in.

Date Published: 18th April 2014
Length: 190 pages
Publisher: Chandos Publishing
ISBN: 1843347164
David Austerberry

This title was published in 2006 during the earlier stages of the recent upsurge in interest in DAM. The book is more oriented towards video and what some might describe as Media Asset Management (MAM) rather than DAM. There is a fair amount of technical detail, some of which still holds true (for example, the advantages of using a DAM system that has a Service Oriented Architecture) but much appears to be too low-level to be of use to managers, while simultaneously not in-depth enough for engineers. I can envisage this book appealing to IT managers based on a casual read-through, but they might find the information too out of date to assist with handling current implementation challenges and not so relevant as a result. There is also no mention of SaaS/hosted solutions and the list of products includes a number of vendors who have been acquired or no longer operate in DAM/MAM.

This book would benefit from an update. If it was revised with a fresh pair of eyes and in the context of the significant changes that have occurred since the last editions was published then it might become more useful again. Given the cost, I could not recommend it when compared with a few of the more modern alternatives described on this site.

Date Published: 6th May 2006
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Focal Press
ISBN: 0240808681
Henrik de Gyor

These are transcriptions of interviews conducted by the author, Henrik de Gyor. The electronic version might be useful for those who need to search the interview text. Copies of the audio podcasts and some of the transcripts are available on Henrik's site:

Date Published: 26th August 2013
Length: 457 pages
Publisher: Henrik de Gyor
Dr Andreas Mauthe, Dr Peter Thomas

This is another older title about DAM. It appears to be mostly a reference oriented text with details about video and media formats. The cost of the book is relatively expensive, possibly to reflect the specialist nature of the subject matter (although the used copies seem a little better value for money). I would recommend checking the contents and trying to read a few sample chapters before committing to a purchase.

Date Published: 29th January 2004
Length: 330 pages
Publisher: Wiley
ISBN: 0470855428
Jens Jacobsen, Tilman Schlenker, Lisa Edwards

As the book title suggests, this is heavily oriented towards the Computer Games industry and is probably less about DAM and more how to structure production workflows. It was first published almost ten years ago and as with other books about DAM published at this time seems to be more production oriented (which would be consistent with the DAM solutions that were generally on offer at that time).

Date Published: 6th October 2005
Length: 352 pages
Publisher: Focal Press
ISBN: 0240806654