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September 29 2013

September 27 2013

Gallica : plus de 600 titres au format ePub - Aldus - depuis 2006

Gallica : plus de 600 titres au format #ePub - Aldus - depuis 2006
http://aldus2006.typepad.fr/mon_weblog/2013/09/gallica-plus-de-600-titres-au-format-epub.html

Bonne nouvelle aujourd’hui, Gallica vient de mettre en ligne plusieurs centaines de titres de plus, désormais un total de plus de 600 titres.

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ebooks?lang=FR
#ebook

Tags: ePub ebook

July 01 2013

Comme d'habitude, une mine de mises en ligne intéressantes sur Monoskop : *Guy_Debord : “Cette…

Comme d'habitude, une mine de mises en ligne intéressantes sur #Monoskop :

#Guy_Debord : “Cette mauvaise réputation…” (1993)
http://monoskop.org/log/?p=8581

La critique des critiques. Ce plaidoyer pro domo est destiné à ‘rétablir la vérité complète sur beaucoup de circonstances peu connues' de la conduite de l'auteur, circonstances qui ‘sont pourtant aussi très rarement citées'. Guy Debord recopie, ‘redresse' et commente les ‘propos des médiatiques', durant les années 1988 à 1992. On peut, avec J. Savigneau, souligner l'absence totale d'humour et qualifier de ‘décourageante' la lecture de ce florilège de critiques peu crédibles.

Publisher Gallimard, 1993
ISBN 2070407004
111 pages

http://monoskop.org/images/2/22/Debord_Guy_Cette_mauvaise_reputation.pdf [#pdf]

#Jean_Epstein : Écrits sur le cinéma, 1921-1953, tome 1-2 (1974–75)
http://monoskop.org/log/?p=8533

Foreword by Henri Langlois
Introduction by Pierre Leprohon
Publisher Seghers, Paris, 1974–75
436 and 352 pages
via Reyovak

http://monoskop.org/images/8/86/Epstein_Jean_Ecrits_sur_le_cinema_1921-1953_Tome_1_1921-1947.pdf [pdf tome 1]
http://monoskop.org/images/d/db/Epstein_Jean_Ecrits_sur_le_cinema_1921-1953_Tome_2_1946-1953.pdf [pdf tome 2]

#Michel_Foucault : The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969-) [FR, ES, IT, EN, PT, AR, SR, TR, CZ, RU]
http://monoskop.org/log/?p=8485

“The Archaeology of Knowledge (L'archéologie du savoir) is a methodological treatise promoting what the French philosopher Michel Foucault calls “archaeology” or the “archaeological method”, an analytical method he implicitly used in his previous works Madness and Civilization, The Birth of the Clinic, and The Order of Things. It is Foucault's only explicitly methodological work.

The premise of the book is that systems of thought and knowledge (“epistemes” or “discursive formations”) are governed by rules (beyond those of grammar and logic) which operate in the consciousness of individual subjects and define a system of conceptual possibilities that determines the boundaries of thought in a given domain and period.” (from Wikipedia)

French edition
Publisher Editions Gallimard, 1969
275 pages

http://monoskop.org/images/b/b7/Foucault_Michel_L_archeologie_du_savoir.pdf [pdf de l'édition française]

#Thomas_Pynchon : Gravity's Rainbow (1973-) [EN, IT, HU]
http://monoskop.org/log/?p=8538

A few months after the Germans' secret V-2 rocket bombs begin falling on London, British Intelligence discovers that a map of the city pinpointing the sexual conquests of one Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop, U.S. Army, corresponds identically to a map showing V-2 impact sites. The implications of this discovery launch Slothrop on a wildly comic extravaganza.

“Gravity's Rainbow is Pynchon's most celebrated novel. An intricate and allusive fiction that combines and elaborates on many of the themes of his earlier work, including preterition, paranoia, racism, colonialism, conspiracy, synchronicity, and entropy, the novel has spawned a wealth of commentary and critical material, including reader's guides, books and scholarly articles, online concordances and discussions, and art works. Its artistic value is often compared to that of James Joyce's Ulysses. Some scholars have hailed it as the greatest American post-WW2 novel, and it has similarly been described as ‘literally an anthology of postmodernist themes and devices'.” (from Wikipedia)

http://ge.tt/api/1/files/11BaqSk/0/blob?download [#epub de l'édition anglaise]

#littérature #philosophie #cinéma #essai #livre

April 17 2012

The anchor on ebook prices is gone. Now we'll see where they float

The publishing space remains abuzz in the aftermath of the Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit filing last week against Apple and publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Penguin. Much remains to be seen on how the suit will play out with Apple, Macmillan and Penguin (as the others have settled), and how the Big Six will now respond in relation to Amazon.

For a wider view and some insight into what needs to happen next for publishers to survive the tumult, I reached out to Don Linn, president at Firebrand Associates. Our interview follows.

What is the big-picture view of the DOJ lawsuit?

Don_Linn_Headshot.jpgDon Linn: The combination of the lawsuit, circumstantial evidence that's been revealed, and settlements by several of the parties, is a very big event. The point I think has been missed in much of the discussion is the perception that the agency model — and the alleged collusion that had led to it — affected consumers negatively via higher prices. The price umbrella agency effectively created benefitted only the alleged co-conspirators. That's something that never makes anti-trust enforcers happy.

The circumstantial evidence certainly suggests the DOJ had grounds for pursuing an action. "Double deleting" emails is pretty damning, among other things. The fact that three parties have settled, while legally having no effect on the others, clearly weakens the case of the remaining defendants, at least in public, that something happened. We will look back on this as an important date; the date that ebook prices once again were allowed to float. And things seldom float upward.

I'm not an attorney, but I believe that Macmillan, Penguin and Apple have a very difficult legal battle ahead. One I doubt they can win.

Does this strengthen Amazon's position in the marketplace?

Don Linn: Amazon's already dominant position has been further strengthened as their ability to set low prices locked into the Kindle ecosystem should only grow their share of the market. Whether this is a good thing for publishers over time remains to be seen, but most readers will cheer short-term price declines and Amazon's superior customer experience.

Cory Doctorow and others have argued that the DOJ has missed the point with this suit, saying that the DRM lock-in is the bigger anti-competitive threat. Over time this may prove to be true. However, when consumers benefit, regulators can claim a victory.

What do publishers need to do now?

Don Linn: Clearly, the most important thing for those who have settled is to get into — and stay in — compliance with the agreement. Additional legal battles are in no one's interest, which is why I was surprised that two publishers chose to fight.

Separately, the Big Six and others have to determine whether low prices are their enemy and by extension whether Amazon's low pricing is sustainable for them. The choices are pretty stark: either withhold content from Amazon until acceptable terms can be agreed upon, or further adapt business models to adjust to lower pricing. I would expect to see major pushback from the Big Six on Amazon, and some may take IPG's approach of trying to hold out.

Whether that strategy can be successful is questionable, but it may be the only viable approach if they don't believe lower prices can work. If the publishers yield to Amazon, consumers should hope they could — as Mike Cane has argued — extract something in return ... perhaps Amazon's willingness to adopt EPUB as a way to loosen the lock-in.

What do you think readers will get out of this?

Don Linn: As I mentioned before, consumers get the immediate benefit of lower prices, though there are those who argue that Amazon, once it controls the market, will ultimately raise prices for their locked-in consumers. The DOJ may have inadvertently created a less competitive marketplace with this action, though I feel sure they will be back if Amazon or any other party misbehaves to the detriment of consumers.

This interview was edited for clarity.

The future of publishing has a busy schedule.
Stay up to date with Tools of Change for Publishing events, publications, research and resources. Visit us at oreilly.com/toc.

Related:


January 16 2012

The art of marrying content with mobile apps

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.


Publishers are often approached by mobile app developers looking to help them distribute their content in new ways. Most of those developers aren't all that familiar with the publishing industry and treat the results as just another app. KiwiTech is different. As founder and CTO Gurvinder Batra explains in this interview, KiwiTech uses its management team's extensive publishing industry experience to craft a better solution.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • The KiwiTech founders are well versed in the publishing space — This is the same team that founded Aptara. That translates into them having a much better sense of the challenges of marrying content with mobile apps. [Discussed at the 00:33 mark.]
  • What's the future of iOS versus Android? — The phones are a good predictor of the tablet's future. So, while Android is overtaking iOS on phone market share, the large number of different handsets and configurations makes it particularly challenging for developers. Expect the same problem to arise with tablets. [Discussed at 6:22.]
  • Porting from iOS to Android is harder than it sounds — Many publishers think development costs for the second platform (e.g., Android) should cost about half of the development costs of the original one (e.g., iOS), but that logic is wrong. [Discussed at 7:45.]
  • Why choose native apps over EPUB? — While it's tempting to go with a platform-independent solution like EPUB, you lose the ability to tap into many of the device's core capabilities, such as sensors, for example. [Discussed at 15:43.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

TOC NY 2012 — O'Reilly's TOC Conference, being held Feb. 13-15, 2012, in New York City, is where the publishing and tech industries converge. Practitioners and executives from both camps will share what they've learned and join together to navigate publishing's ongoing transformation.

Register to attend TOC 2012

Related:


July 27 2011

Ebook empowerment with EPUB3

Julien Simon, CEO and founder of Walrus Books, and Jérémie Gisserot, creative manager and technical consultant at Walrus Books, have been somewhat limited in what they can do with their enhanced ebooks. They're banking on EPUB3 to change all that.

In the following interview, Simon and Gisserot discuss the advantages of EPUB3 and what they'd like to see developers do next.

Which new features in EPUB3 are most useful for your enhanced ebooks?

JulienSimon2.pngJulien: We are definitely pleased that EPUB3 specs now natively include audio and video — it's a crucial step for enhanced ebooks. Because EPUB2 did not include these features, developers (mostly Android developers) did not integrate them into their reading applications.

Jérémie: Apple used to have an advantage. Because iBooks was (and still is) using the WebKit graphic engine, Apple was the only one able to offer enhanced reading experiences. Now, with the official launch of EPUB3, we can only hope that developers — especially Android/Windows developers — will go in that direction.

Julien: EPUB3 is not a revolution for Walrus. It's a step forward. We hope that, thanks to EPUB3 specs, our enhanced ebooks will now be available on different platforms.

What has HTML5 brought to EPUB3?

JeremieGisserot.pngJérémie: HTML5 is a major step forward thanks to localStorage. LocalStorage uses iBooks' memory to remember your choices, the pages you read, the answers you gave to questions, the points you earned while reading a gamebook, and the parts of the text you chose to unhide.

Julien: Basically it gives a memory to your EPUB file — even when you close the book. This new "brain" is crucial for our gamebook development because the reader's choices need to be saved. Publishers should really consider localStorage — for us, it's like stepping on Mars ... the only limit is our imagination.


An EPUB3 demo video from Walrus Books

How about CSS3? How do you use it and how well does it work with HTML5 and EPUB3?

Jérémie: As the WebKit graphic engine is used by iBooks, most of the new features brought by CSS3 are well displayed on iPad/iPhone/iPod. We can now reduce the use of "decorative" pictures in our EPUBs. By "decorative" I mean pictures we were displaying to simulate complex layouts to fit with the printed versions of the books. We can now use boxes with rounded corners, shadows, and blurring directly inside the CSS. It's a way to clean the code and make the book much more flexible. In addition to HTML5 and Javascript, it is a great new tool for us to play with.

What changes do you see EPUB3 bringing to the publishing industry?

Julien: The publishing industry now has a great challenge to meet. Jobs are evolving — they require more flexibility and new knowledge. Young publishing teams will adapt, but in some cases a lot of work needs to be done. There are more tools than ever, both for the publisher and the writer. You now have to consider pictures, audio, video, game play, etc., as new ways to tell a story. And considering that buying an HD camera won't turn you into a Scorsese-clone over night, a lot of effort has to be put into training and learning.

To some extent, the book-reading experience will be more like watching a movie, playing a video game and using the Internet. When working on a book project, not only will a publisher and a writer sit at the publishing meeting table, but they'll be joined by a sound designer, a scriptwriter, a director, etc. The publisher's job will soon look more like a producer's job.

Why did you opt to produce only for Apple platforms?

Jérémie: Today it's more of a limitation than a choice. Only iBooks is able to interpret our enhanced EPUBs the right way. We made several attempts on other platforms, but the results were really disappointing — CSS is erased, videos cannot be played, and audio cannot be heard.

Julien: We can't wait to see developers getting involved with EPUB reading apps and making this technology work with Android, MacOS, Linux and Windows. A lot of work has to be done in that field. Ultimately, however, reading should not be a matter of devices, but of taste.

This interview was edited and condensed.

TOC Frankfurt 2011 — Being held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2011, TOC Frankfurt will feature a full day of cutting-edge keynotes and panel discussions by key figures in the worlds of publishing and technology.

Save 100€ off the regular admission price with code TOC2011OR




Related:


  • What is HTML5?
  • Digital publishing should put design above file conversion
  • The line between book and Internet will disappear
  • What publishers can and should learn from "The Elements"


  • February 18 2011

    An era in which to curate skills: report from Tools of Change conference

    Three days of intensive
    discussion about the current state of publishing
    wrapped up last
    night in New York City. Let's take a tour from start to end.

    If I were to draw one point from the first session I attended, I would
    say that metadata is a key competitive point for publishers. First,
    facts such as who has reviewed a book, how many editions it has been
    through, and other such things we call "metadata" can be valuable to
    readers and institutions you want to sell content to. Second, it can
    be valuable to you internally as part of curation (which I'll get to
    later). Basically, metadata makes content far more useful. But it's
    so tedious to add and to collate with other content's metadata that
    few people out in the field bother to add it. Publishers are
    well-placed to do it because they have the resources to pay people for
    that unappreciated task.

    If I were to leap to the other end of the conference and draw one
    point from the closing keynotes, I would say that the key to survival
    is to start with the determination that you're going to win, and to
    derive your strategy from that. The closing keynoters offered a couple
    strategies along those lines.


    Kathy Sierra
    claimed she started her href="http://oreilly.com/store/series/headfirst.html">Head First
    series with no vision loftier than to make money and beat the
    competition. The key to sales, as she has often explained in her
    talks and articles on "Creating Passionate Users," is not to promote
    the author or the topic but to promote what the reader could become.

    href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17571">Ben
    Huh of I Can Has
    Cheezburger
    said that one must plan a book to be a bestseller, the
    way car or appliance manufacturers plan to meet the demands of their
    buyers.

    Thus passed the start and end of this conference. A lot happened in
    between. I'll cover a few topics in this blog.

    Skills for a future publishing

    There clearly is an undercurrent of worry, if not actual panic, in
    publishing. We see what is happening to newspapers, we watch our
    markets shrink like those of the music and television industries, and
    we check our own balance sheets as Borders Books slides into
    bankruptcy. I cannot remember another conference where I heard, as I
    did this week, the leader of a major corporation air doubts from the
    podium about the future of her company and her career.

    Many speakers combatted this sense of helplessness, of course, but
    their advice often came across as, "Everything is going haywire and
    you can't possibly imagine what the field will look like in a few
    years, so just hang on and go with the flow. And by the way,
    completely overturn your workflows and revamp your skill sets."

    Nevertheless, I repeatedly heard references to four classic skills
    that still rule in the field of publishing. These skills were always
    important and will remain important, but they have to shift and in
    some ways to merge.

    Two of these skills are research and sales. Although one was usually
    expected to do research on the market and topic before writing and do
    sales afterward, the talks by Sierra, Huh, and others suggested that
    these are continuous activities, and hard to separate. The big buzz in
    all the content industries is about getting closer to one's audience.
    There is never a start and end to the process.

    The consensus is that casual exploitation of social
    networking--sending out postings and updates and trying to chat with
    readers online--won't sell your content. Your readers are a market and
    must be researched like one: using surveys, statistical analysis, and
    so on. This news can be a relief to the thousands of authors who feel
    guilty (and perhaps are made to feel guilty by their publishers)
    because they don't get pleasure from reporting things on Facebook
    ranging from the breakfast cereal they ate to their latest brilliant
    insight. But the question of how bring one's audience into one's
    project--a topic I'll refer to as crowdsourcing and cover later--is a
    difficult one.

    Authoring and curation are even more fundamental skills. Curation has
    traditionally meant just making sure assets are safe, uncorrupted, and
    ready for use, but it has broadened (particularly in the href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/18000">keynote
    by Steve Rosenbaum) to include gathering information, filtering
    and tagging it, and generally understanding what's useful to different
    audiences. This has always been a publisher's role. In the age of
    abundant digital content, the gathering and filtering functions can
    dwarf the editorial side of publishing. Thus, although Thomson Reuters
    has enormous resources of their own, they also generate value by href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17827">
    tracking the assets of many other organizations.

    When working with other people's material, curation, authoring, and
    editing all start to merge. Perhaps organizing other people's work
    into a meaningful sequence is as valuable as authoring one's own. In
    short, curation adds value in ways that are different from authoring
    but increasingly valid.

    Capitalizing on the old

    I am not ready to change my business cards from saying "Editor" to
    "Curator" because that would make it look like I'm presiding over a
    museum. Indeed, I fear that many publishers are dragged down by their
    legacy holdings, which may go back a hundred years or more. I talked
    to one publisher who felt like his time was mostly taken up with huge
    holdings of classics that had been converted to digital form, and he
    was struggling to find time just to learn how his firm could add the
    kinds of interactivity, multimedia, links, and other enhancements that
    people at the show were saying these digital works deserved.

    We hope that no publishers will end up as museums, but some may have
    to survive by partnering with newer, more limber companies that grok
    the digital age better, rather as the publisher of T.S. Eliot's
    classic poem The Waste Land partnered with Touch Press, the
    new imprint set up by Wolfram Research and discussed in a href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17732">keynote
    by Theodore Gray. Readers will expect more than plain old rendered
    text from their glittery devices, and Gray's immensely successful book
    The Elements (which brought to life some very classic content, the
    periodic table) shows one model for giving them what they want.

    Two polar extremes

    Gray defined his formula for success as one of bringing together top
    talent in every field, rather as Hollywood film-makers do. Gray claims
    to bring together "real authors" (meaning people with extraordinary
    perspectives to offer), video producers with top industry
    qualifications, and programmers whose skills go beyond the ordinary.

    I can't fault Gray's formula--in fact, Head First follows the same
    model by devoting huge resources to each book and choosing its topics
    carefully to sell well--but if it was the only formula for success,
    the book industry would put out a few hundred products each year like
    Hollywood does. Gray did not offer this economic analysis himself, but
    it's the only way I see it working financially. Not only would this
    shift squelch the thousands of quirky niche offerings that make
    publishing a joy at present, I don't consider it sustainable. How will
    the next generation of top producers mature and experiment? If there
    is no business model to support the long tail, they'll never develop
    the skills needed in Gray's kind of business.

    Business models are also a problem at the other extreme,
    crowdsourcing. Everybody would like to draw on the insights of
    readers. We've learned from popular books such as
    The Wisdom of
    Crowds
    and Wikinomics that our
    public has valuable things to say, and our own works grow in value if
    we mine them adeptly. There are innumerable conversations going on out
    there, on the forums and the rating sites, and the social networks,
    and publishers want to draw those conversations into the book. The
    problem is that our customers are very happy on the communities they
    have created themselves, and while they will drop in on our site to
    rate a product or correct an error, they won't create the digital
    equivalent of Paris's nineteenth-century cafe culture for us.

    Because I have been fascinated for years by online information sharing
    and have href="http://www.praxagora.com/community_documentation/">researched it
    a fair amount, I made use of the conference in the appropriate way
    by organizing a roundtable for anyone who was interested under the
    subject, "Can crowdsourcing coexist with monetization?" Some of the
    projects the participants discussed included:

    • A book review site that pays experts for reviews, and then opens up
      the site to the public for their comments. This approach uses
      high-quality content to attract more content.

    • O'Reilly's own Answers
      site
      , which works similarly by sharing authors' ideas as well as
      excerpts from their books and draws postings from readers.

    • A site for baby product recommendations, put up by the publisher of
      books on parenting. The publisher has succeeded in drawing large
      groups of avid participants, and has persuaded volunteers to moderate
      the site for free. But it hasn't taken the next steps, such as
      generating useful content for its own books from readers, or finding
      ways to expand into information for parents of older children so the
      publisher can keep them on the site.

    • Offering a site for teachers to share educational materials and
      improve their curricula. In this case, the publisher is not interested
      in monetizing the content, but the participants use the site to
      improve their careers.

    In between the premium offerings of Touch Press and the resale of
    crowdsourced material lies a wide spectrum of things publishers can
    do. At all points on the spectrum, though, traditional business
    models are challenged.

    The one strategic move that was emphasized in session after session
    was to move our digital content to standards. EPUB, HTML 5, and other
    standards are evolving and growing (sometimes beyond the scope, it
    seems, of any human being to grasp the whole). If we use these
    formats, we can mix and mingle our content with others, and thus take
    advantage of partnerships, crowdsourcing, and new devices and
    distribution opportunities.

    Three gratifying trends

    Trends can feel like they're running against us in the publishing
    industry. But I heard of three trends that should make us feel good:
    reading is on the increase, TV watching is on the decrease (which will
    make you happy if you agree with such analysts as Jerry Mander and
    Neil Postman), and people want portability--the right to read their
    purchases on any device. The significance of the last push is that it
    will lead to more openness and more chances for the rich environment
    of information exchange that generates new media and ideas. We're in a
    fertile era, and the first assets we need to curate are our own
    skills.

    An era in which to curate skills: report from Tools of Change conference

    Three days of intensive
    discussion about the current state of publishing
    wrapped up last
    night in New York City. Let's take a tour from start to end.

    If I were to draw one point from the first session I attended, I would
    say that metadata is a key competitive point for publishers. First,
    facts such as who has reviewed a book, how many editions it has been
    through, and other such things we call "metadata" can be valuable to
    readers and institutions you want to sell content to. Second, it can
    be valuable to you internally as part of curation (which I'll get to
    later). Basically, metadata makes content far more useful. But it's
    so tedious to add and to collate with other content's metadata that
    few people out in the field bother to add it. Publishers are
    well-placed to do it because they have the resources to pay people for
    that unappreciated task.

    If I were to leap to the other end of the conference and draw one
    point from the closing keynotes, I would say that the key to survival
    is to start with the determination that you're going to win, and to
    derive your strategy from that. The closing keynoters offered a couple
    strategies along those lines.


    Kathy Sierra
    claimed she started her href="http://oreilly.com/store/series/headfirst.html">Head First
    series with no vision loftier than to make money and beat the
    competition. The key to sales, as she has often explained in her
    talks and articles on "Creating Passionate Users," is not to promote
    the author or the topic but to promote what the reader could become.

    href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17571">Ben
    Huh of I Can Has
    Cheezburger
    said that one must plan a book to be a bestseller, the
    way car or appliance manufacturers plan to meet the demands of their
    buyers.

    Thus passed the start and end of this conference. A lot happened in
    between. I'll cover a few topics in this blog.

    Skills for a future publishing

    There clearly is an undercurrent of worry, if not actual panic, in
    publishing. We see what is happening to newspapers, we watch our
    markets shrink like those of the music and television industries, and
    we check our own balance sheets as Borders Books slides into
    bankruptcy. I cannot remember another conference where I heard, as I
    did this week, the leader of a major corporation air doubts from the
    podium about the future of her company and her career.

    Many speakers combatted this sense of helplessness, of course, but
    their advice often came across as, "Everything is going haywire and
    you can't possibly imagine what the field will look like in a few
    years, so just hang on and go with the flow. And by the way,
    completely overturn your workflows and revamp your skill sets."

    Nevertheless, I repeatedly heard references to four classic skills
    that still rule in the field of publishing. These skills were always
    important and will remain important, but they have to shift and in
    some ways to merge.

    Two of these skills are research and sales. Although one was usually
    expected to do research on the market and topic before writing and do
    sales afterward, the talks by Sierra, Huh, and others suggested that
    these are continuous activities, and hard to separate. The big buzz in
    all the content industries is about getting closer to one's audience.
    There is never a start and end to the process.

    The consensus is that casual exploitation of social
    networking--sending out postings and updates and trying to chat with
    readers online--won't sell your content. Your readers are a market and
    must be researched like one: using surveys, statistical analysis, and
    so on. This news can be a relief to the thousands of authors who feel
    guilty (and perhaps are made to feel guilty by their publishers)
    because they don't get pleasure from reporting things on Facebook
    ranging from the breakfast cereal they ate to their latest brilliant
    insight. But the question of how bring one's audience into one's
    project--a topic I'll refer to as crowdsourcing and cover later--is a
    difficult one.

    Authoring and curation are even more fundamental skills. Curation has
    traditionally meant just making sure assets are safe, uncorrupted, and
    ready for use, but it has broadened (particularly in the href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/18000">keynote
    by Steve Rosenbaum) to include gathering information, filtering
    and tagging it, and generally understanding what's useful to different
    audiences. This has always been a publisher's role. In the age of
    abundant digital content, the gathering and filtering functions can
    dwarf the editorial side of publishing. Thus, although Thomson Reuters
    has enormous resources of their own, they also generate value by href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17827">
    tracking the assets of many other organizations.

    When working with other people's material, curation, authoring, and
    editing all start to merge. Perhaps organizing other people's work
    into a meaningful sequence is as valuable as authoring one's own. In
    short, curation adds value in ways that are different from authoring
    but increasingly valid.

    Capitalizing on the old

    I am not ready to change my business cards from saying "Editor" to
    "Curator" because that would make it look like I'm presiding over a
    museum. Indeed, I fear that many publishers are dragged down by their
    legacy holdings, which may go back a hundred years or more. I talked
    to one publisher who felt like his time was mostly taken up with huge
    holdings of classics that had been converted to digital form, and he
    was struggling to find time just to learn how his firm could add the
    kinds of interactivity, multimedia, links, and other enhancements that
    people at the show were saying these digital works deserved.

    We hope that no publishers will end up as museums, but some may have
    to survive by partnering with newer, more limber companies that grok
    the digital age better, rather as the publisher of T.S. Eliot's
    classic poem The Waste Land partnered with Touch Press, the
    new imprint set up by Wolfram Research and discussed in a href="http://www.toccon.com/toc2011/public/schedule/detail/17732">keynote
    by Theodore Gray. Readers will expect more than plain old rendered
    text from their glittery devices, and Gray's immensely successful book
    The Elements (which brought to life some very classic content, the
    periodic table) shows one model for giving them what they want.

    Two polar extremes

    Gray defined his formula for success as one of bringing together top
    talent in every field, rather as Hollywood film-makers do. Gray claims
    to bring together "real authors" (meaning people with extraordinary
    perspectives to offer), video producers with top industry
    qualifications, and programmers whose skills go beyond the ordinary.

    I can't fault Gray's formula--in fact, Head First follows the same
    model by devoting huge resources to each book and choosing its topics
    carefully to sell well--but if it was the only formula for success,
    the book industry would put out a few hundred products each year like
    Hollywood does. Gray did not offer this economic analysis himself, but
    it's the only way I see it working financially. Not only would this
    shift squelch the thousands of quirky niche offerings that make
    publishing a joy at present, I don't consider it sustainable. How will
    the next generation of top producers mature and experiment? If there
    is no business model to support the long tail, they'll never develop
    the skills needed in Gray's kind of business.

    Business models are also a problem at the other extreme,
    crowdsourcing. Everybody would like to draw on the insights of
    readers. We've learned from popular books such as
    The Wisdom of
    Crowds
    and Wikinomics that our
    public has valuable things to say, and our own works grow in value if
    we mine them adeptly. There are innumerable conversations going on out
    there, on the forums and the rating sites, and the social networks,
    and publishers want to draw those conversations into the book. The
    problem is that our customers are very happy on the communities they
    have created themselves, and while they will drop in on our site to
    rate a product or correct an error, they won't create the digital
    equivalent of Paris's nineteenth-century cafe culture for us.

    Because I have been fascinated for years by online information sharing
    and have href="http://www.praxagora.com/community_documentation/">researched it
    a fair amount, I made use of the conference in the appropriate way
    by organizing a roundtable for anyone who was interested under the
    subject, "Can crowdsourcing coexist with monetization?" Some of the
    projects the participants discussed included:

    • A book review site that pays experts for reviews, and then opens up
      the site to the public for their comments. This approach uses
      high-quality content to attract more content.

    • O'Reilly's own Answers
      site
      , which works similarly by sharing authors' ideas as well as
      excerpts from their books and draws postings from readers.

    • A site for baby product recommendations, put up by the publisher of
      books on parenting. The publisher has succeeded in drawing large
      groups of avid participants, and has persuaded volunteers to moderate
      the site for free. But it hasn't taken the next steps, such as
      generating useful content for its own books from readers, or finding
      ways to expand into information for parents of older children so the
      publisher can keep them on the site.

    • Offering a site for teachers to share educational materials and
      improve their curricula. In this case, the publisher is not interested
      in monetizing the content, but the participants use the site to
      improve their careers.

    In between the premium offerings of Touch Press and the resale of
    crowdsourced material lies a wide spectrum of things publishers can
    do. At all points on the spectrum, though, traditional business
    models are challenged.

    The one strategic move that was emphasized in session after session
    was to move our digital content to standards. EPUB, HTML 5, and other
    standards are evolving and growing (sometimes beyond the scope, it
    seems, of any human being to grasp the whole). If we use these
    formats, we can mix and mingle our content with others, and thus take
    advantage of partnerships, crowdsourcing, and new devices and
    distribution opportunities.

    Three gratifying trends

    Trends can feel like they're running against us in the publishing
    industry. But I heard of three trends that should make us feel good:
    reading is on the increase, TV watching is on the decrease (which will
    make you happy if you agree with such analysts as Jerry Mander and
    Neil Postman), and people want portability--the right to read their
    purchases on any device. The significance of the last push is that it
    will lead to more openness and more chances for the rich environment
    of information exchange that generates new media and ideas. We're in a
    fertile era, and the first assets we need to curate are our own
    skills.

    January 19 2011

    Digital publishing should put design above file conversion

    Digital publishing formats and processes seem to change daily, and keeping up with the times can be a logistical nightmare for publishers and ebook staffs. What are the best design tools? Which formats should be used? How do you meet current digital demand while building for the future?

    Joshua Tallent (@ebookarchitects), owner of eBook Architects and a speaker at TOC 2011, makes sense of the confusion and frustration surrounding digital publishing.

    Our interview follows.


    How do you see digital book conversion changing in the near future?

    Joshua TallentJoshua Tallent: To me, the big deal is that the conversion process is going to morph from conversion to design. We've been stuck on this idea that we have to get books developed and out in the market right now. We're trying to get thousands of backlist titles produced, and the quality has suffered.

    What's happening, at least on a small level, is that conversion companies and publishers are starting to see that it's not the conversion that matters, it's the design. Ebook design requires the same quality and care that you see in print book design. I hope that's the direction we're headed.

    How will a focus on ebook development affect different types of publishers?

    Joshua Tallent: I see the cost of development, and even some of the requirements for development, going up. That's something that a larger publisher could probably absorb better than a smaller company.

    When it comes to independent authors, many think they can take a Word document and turn it into an ebook. That's fine if you want a very basic book, and you can probably do it yourself. But things are getting more intense, and we have more functionality. If you want to include audio and video, you have to get into the code and know what you're doing. That creates a higher barrier to entry. As that barrier goes up, self-published authors will have a harder time competing with the big publishers.

    Across the board, we're going to need more qualified developers. That's where the big questions emerge: Who do you hire? Do you convert your book design staff into ebook developers? Do you find web developers who can be trained to create ebooks?

    TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore "publishing without boundaries" through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

    Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

    Do you see the use of proprietary file formats increasing or decreasing?

    Joshua Tallent: I see it becoming more solidified. Businesses look out for themselves before looking out for the community.

    Let's take a backwards view and ask what would have happened if Sony, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo and all of the other major retailers — except for Amazon — had worked out a single and usable system for DRM, for formatting, and for ebook layout. If they had done that, Amazon would be number three or four in the industry right now.

    I firmly believe that a consistent EPUB system would be beneficial to consumers, and consumers would see that. The problem is publishers and booksellers haven't done that. Barnes & Noble has their own flavor of the Adobe DRM. Adobe has updated the DRM and said anybody can use it, but Sony didn't do that. The Sony version of the DRM doesn't interoperate correctly with the Nook. So, you can now buy an EPUB file from the Barnes & Noble store and not necessarily be able to read that on your Sony device. These companies aren't going to let that go. They don't want Adobe getting their hands into the mix and taking $0.20 per book download or something along those lines. They want to control that DRM themselves.

    I would be surprised if more than a couple of big retailers are actually working on an interoperable business plan. Google has done that a little bit with Google eBookstore. They say you can take all of their books and put them on any of these different devices, including the Nook and the Sony Reader — and that's good. But, then again, I'm not convinced that Google is going to be as successful in the ebook retailing world as some people project. I think customers are more likely to go to Amazon.

    Is there a "best" software choice for developing digital book files?

    Joshua Tallent: It really depends on your workflow. If you're using Quark and your goal is to outsource to a third-party company and have them do the work, send them a PDF, and keep using Quark. If it's going to take a lot of extra money and training for you to get your people switched over to InDesign, and you don't intend to create your own EPUB files in-house, then there's no real value in going to InDesign. However, if your plan in the next year is to produce your own EPUBs with an XML-based workflow, then you should make the switch to InDesign.

    As far as developing a foundational EPUB file, InDesign is a better tool. Quark doesn't seem to be moving toward an EPUB output. But even InDesign is not that good when it comes to EPUB: the InDesign EPUB export is really just the Dreamweaver HTML export packaged up as an EPUB file. It's got some glaring issues.

    Specifically, I would love to see InDesign's EPUB export rewritten from the ground up so that the InDesign Markup Language (IDML) would convert to the XHTML used in EPUB, instead of relying on their current HTML output system.

    What are the biggest conversion frustrations publishers currently face?

    Joshua Tallent: Quality is the biggest issue I've seen. A lot of publishers are starting to see that the mass conversion route isn't the best approach. In response, publishers are hiring people who can proof their ebooks, look through the converted files, make change lists, and then send those back to the conversion houses for corrections. That's a good step for publishers who are using outside resources.

    A constantly changing and morphing market is another frustration for publishers. Companies that have been doing things consistently for 100 years are suddenly forced to deal with digital development and design components that change every month. Now, they have to set up workflows that work both in the present and down the road. That's a whole different model than what they're used to.

    This interview was edited and condensed.



    Related:




    January 12 2011

    What to expect in EPUB3

    Just as publishers are wrapping their heads — and workflows — around the current version of EPUB, a new release is scheduled for May. The EPUB3 draft is set to publish for comment later this month, giving publishers and developers their first blush at what the release will mean to them.

    In the following interview, Bob Kasher, business development manager for integrated solutions at Book Masters and a member of the International Digital Publishing Forum EPUB Working Group, highlights some of the changes the new version will bring to the publishing industry. Kasher is scheduled to speak in depth on EPUB3 at February's Tools of Change for Publishing conference in New York.


    What are some of the major changes EPUB3 will bring to digital publishing?

    Bob KasherBob Kasher: There are three key areas EPUB3 is focused around: language support, greater accessibility, and increased multimedia support. Language support will allow EPUB3 to save and search non-Roman scripts — such as Japanese, Chinese and Arabic — as font characters rather than JPEGs, as in current EPUB support. This will make a much broader range of literature available to current and future reading devices from base EPUB files. It will truly internationalize EPUB.

    EPUB3 will also be better at integrating the current DAISY accessibility standards, to help make reading devices of greater usefulness to visually impaired readers.

    EPUB3 will be much more adept at supporting multimedia capabilities for both HTML5-based devices and the coming generation of tablets supporting both Flash and HTML5. It is hoped that in doing so, EPUB3 will help develop an enhanced ebook standard that can be used across a variety of media and content.

    Other developments include enhanced metadata support for discoverability, better facilitation support for touchscreen devices, and support for MathML, which we hope will open up greater opportunities for textbook publishers. EPUB3 will be a quantum leap forward in capabilities for future device support, but still backward compatible with current devices on the market.

    TOC: 2011, being held Feb. 14-16, 2011 in New York City, will explore "publishing without boundaries" through a variety of workshops, keynotes and panel sessions.

    Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD



    Will EPUB3 bring any digital rights management changes?


    Bob Kasher: DRM is still optional, and DRM formatting will still be flexible as far as being wrapped with EPUB. There will be no changes in that area.



    How will EPUB3 change ereaders and apps?


    Bob Kasher: That depends on where content creators take it. As EPUB3 will be backward compatible, it will be usable on current devices, so there won't be any immediate need for change. However, as new devices open up greater opportunities for readers to access elements not readily available on devices like the Kindle or Kobo or Nook, it will propel accessibility to these attributes in the next generation of ereaders.

    With an estimated 80+ new tablet products coming to market this year, I foresee an increasing consumer interest for app-like products that can be accessed through general distribution sites rather than as individual apps.

    When will EPUB3 be released? Is the publishing world ready?

    Bob Kasher: The draft is being readied for comment and release this month, and we hope to have the final version publicly proclaimed by Book Expo America in May. I think the world will be ready — there is already a lot of testing and development around the product. I fully expect publishers will embrace the re-write quickly and effectively, and we hope it will be one more element fueling the digital transformation of our industry.

    This interview was edited and condensed.



    Related:




    January 05 2011

    Accessible publishing is good business

    Accessible publishing has historically been a logistical challenge. Getting books printed in Braille or developing alternate formats to make books accessible to readers with disabilities were efforts that often fell to charitable organizations. Budget contraints and the sheer volume of work left a wide gap in the availability of titles.

    Ideally, all books would be available in a variety of formats to accommodate the needs of any reader — a scenario that benefits publishers as much as it does readers. In the following interview, Dave Gunn (@AccessGeek), technical manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and a speaker at TOC 2011, talks about how far accessible publishing has come and how technological advancements are making accessible publishing easier.


    How has accessible publishing evolved?

    RNIB, DAISY, ePuBDave Gunn: RNIB's work on accessible publishing standards began with our foundation in 1868 when we were known as the "British and Foreign Society for Improving Embossed Literature for the Blind." Focused primarily on the provision of materials in Braille and other tactile formats, we were involved in leading work on the development of standards and production technologies.

    At the end of World War I, many soldiers had lost their sight in action and returned home to a society ill-prepared for their needs. RNIB was involved in pioneering work to record audio versions of books, developing prototype technology called long-play recordings — a recording standard that was eventually adopted by the music industry. The technology at the time was a big leap forward, even if it wasn't that practical, as a single "Talking Book" was typically played back over 10 double-sided 12-inch long-play records.

    Standards and technology have moved on significantly, allowing us to offer a much more flexible and practical service to many more people. Over the years, there have also been considerable developments in technology for Braille and large-print production, for both hard-copy and electronic consumption, with electronic Braille displays offering a practical alternative to embossed pages for some users.

    However, the current developments in ebook technologies present an opportunity for the most significant change to accessible publishing in decades. In fact, ebooks could benefit all users, irrespective of their preferred reading format.


    Dave Gunn will explore the technologies and opportunities of accessible publishing at the Tools of Change for Publishing Conference (Feb. 14-16, 2011).

    Save 15% on registration with the code TOC11RAD

    What's the current state of accessibility standards?

    DG: The DAISY standard was developed by an international consortium to improve the availability and quality of mainstream publications to people with print disabilities. For the last 14 years, the DAISY standard has provided a common way for disability organizations, like RNIB, to convert print documents and create flexible resources to meet the needs of their client groups.

    The vision of the DAISY Consortium, is "a world where people with print disabilities have equal access to information and knowledge, without delay or additional expense." Developments in ebook formats and readers/players mean that this vision has come a big step closer to being realized.

    The EPUB format has historically shared technology employed in the DAISY format, and starting this year, DAISY will adopt the EPUB 3.0 specification for delivery of the text-only configuration of DAISY. This is part of a scheduled path of harmonization between DAISY and EPUB formats. It is intended to enable publishers to produce publications that are accessible to people who have historically not had access to text, with little or no additional effort for either the publisher or end user.



    The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities requires governments to provide accessible information. Are there current processes that publishers can adopt so they don't reinvent the wheel?


    DG: As each signing country has ratified the UN Convention, they have been implementing solutions based on the accessible formats and standards in use in that country. For example, standards for the coding of Braille varies from country to country, and there are some country-specific differences in implementation of DAISY.

    Standards for accessible electronic documents, outside of web accessibility, are still very much in their infancy. In many respects the publishing industry is on — or near — the cutting edge, especially when considering emerging ebook technologies.

    How will accessible publishing change in the near term?

    DG: The convergence of DAISY and EPUB is just one of many positive steps for accessible publishing. Most of the major ebook formats have at least some mechanisms to support accessibility, and many of the popular reading devices and software have built-in features, such as text size adjustments, color variation, or synthetic speech, all of which provide essential access to people with disabilities. At RNIB we would like to see these features become standard.

    Historically, there have been few opportunities for people with print disabilities to access their books of choice, until now. This presents an opportunity for publishers. Many people with print disabilities are hungry for books, having previously received limited access to just a small pool of best-sellers and classics.

    The future of accessible publishing no longer needs to rest solely on the shoulders of charitable organizations, nor should it be driven by a moral obligation, corporate social responsibility, or legal drivers. People with disabilities are consumers who just want to be able to buy and read books at the same time as everyone else. For the first time, the technology is available to enable people to pay to read books in a choice of formats — all from a standard ebook. Now it is up to publishing and related industries to take up the opportunity, so they can see the benefits from making ebooks accessible to all.

    This interview was edited and condensed.



    Related:




    October 01 2010

    Neat visualization of download ratios for ebook formats offered by O'Reilly

    At O'Reilly we offer multiple (DRM-free) formats to choose among for customers who buy our ebooks. Since starting the program with PDF, EPUB, and Kindle-compatible Mobipocket formats, we've added an Android application file (.apk) and more recently the accessible DAISY format.

    We track which of the formats customers actually download, and from the start PDF has been the dominant choice, though as the chart below shows, there's been a steady shift toward other formats, especially the open EPUB format (which can be read on nearly every ereader device, and is the format used by Apple's iBooks reader).

    Screen shot 2010-09-30 at 5.16.35 PM.png

    In some cases, customers download multiple formats, but this data just includes total downloads by week for each format, and goes all the way back to June of 2008.

    September 10 2010

    The line between book and Internet will disappear

    A few months ago I posted a tweet that said:

    The distinction between “the internet” & “books” is totally totally arbitrary, and will disappear in 5 years. Start adjusting now.

    The tweet got some negative reaction. But I'm certain this shift will happen, and should happen (I won't take bets on the timeline though).

    It should happen because a book properly hooked into the Internet is a far more valuable collection of information than a book not properly hooked into the Internet. And once something is "properly hooked into the internet," that something is part of the Internet.

    It will happen, because: what is a book, after all, but a collection of data (text + images), with a defined structure (chapters, headings, captions), meta data (title, author, ISBN), and prettied up with some presentation design? In other words, what is a book, but a website that happens to be written on paper and not connected to the web?

    An ebook is just a print book by another name

    Ebooks to date have mostly been approached as digital versions of a print books that readers can read on a variety of digital devices, with some thought to enhancing ebooks with a few bells and whistles, like video. While the false battle between ebooks and print books will continue -- you can read one on the beach, with no batteries; you can read another at night with no bedside lamp -- these battles only scratch the surface of what the move to digital books really means. They continue to ignore the real, though as-yet unknown, value that comes with books being truly digital; not the phony, unconnected digital of our current understanding of "ebooks."

    Of course, thinking of ebooks as just another way to consume a book lets the publishing business ignore the terror of a totally unknown business landscape, and concentrate on one that looks at least similar in structure, if not P&L.

    While you can list advantages and disadvantages of print books versus ebooks, these are all asides compared with the kind of advantages that we have come to expect of digital information that is properly hooked into the Internet.

    Defining a book by what you cannot do

    What's striking about this state of affairs -- though not surprising, given the conservative nature of the publishing business, and the complete unknowns about business models -- is that we define ebooks by a laundry list of things one cannot do with them:

    • You cannot deep link into an ebook -- say to a specific page or paragraph chapter or image or table
    • Indeed you cannot really "link" to an ebook, only various access points to instances of that ebook, because there is no canonical "ebook" to link to ... there is no permalink for a chapter, and no Uniform Resource Locator (url) for an ebook itself
    • You (usually) cannot copy and paste text, the most obvious thing one might wish to do
    • You cannot query across, say, all books about Montreal, written in 1942 -- even if they are from the same publisher

    You cannot do any of these things, because we still consider that books -- the information, words, and data inside of them -- live outside of the Internet, even if they are of the e-flavor. You might be able to buy them on the Internet, but the stuff contained within them is not hooked in. Ebooks are an attempt to make it easier for people to buy and read books, without changing this fundamental fact, without letting ebooks become part of the Internet.

    Many people don't want books to become part of the Internet, because we just don't know what business would look like if they were.

    This will change, slowly or quickly. While the value of the digitization of books for readers has primarily been, to date, about access and convenience, there is massive and untapped (and unknown) value to be discovered once books are connected. Once books are accessible in the way well-structured websites are.

    What lurks beneath the EPUB spec

    The secret among those who have poked around EPUB, the open specification for ebooks, is that an .epub file is really just a website, written in XHTML, with a few special characteristics, and wrapped up. It's wrapped up so that it is self-contained (like a book! between covers!), so that it doesn't appear to be a website, and so that it's harder to do the things with an ebook that one expects to be able to do with a website. EPUB is really a way to build a website without letting readers or publishers know it.

    But everything exists within the EPUB spec already to make the next obvious -- but frightening -- step: let books live properly within the Internet, along with websites, databases, blogs, Twitter, map systems, and applications.

    There is little talk of this anywhere in the publishing industry that I know of, but the foundation is there for the move -- as it should be. And if you are looking at publishing with any kind of long-term business horizon, this is where you should be looking. (Just ask Google, a company that has been laying the groundwork for this shift with Google Books).

    An API for books

    An API is an "Application Programing Interface." It's what smart web companies build so that other innovative companies and developers can build tools and services on top of their underlying databases and services.

    For instance:

    We are a long, long way from publishers thinking of themselves as API providers -- as the Application Programming Interface for the books they publish. But we've seen countless times that value grows when data is opened up (sometimes selectively) to the world. That's really what the Internet is for; and that is where book publishing is going. Eventually.

    I don't know exactly what an API for books would look like, nor do I know exactly what it means.

    I don't know what smart things people will start to do when books are truly of the Internet.

    But I do know that it will happen, and the "Future of Publishing" has something to do with this. The current world of ebooks is just a transition to a digitally connected book publishing ecosystem that won't look anything like the book world we live in now.




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