Archive for the ‘eBooks’ Category

How do you skim through a digital book?

Sunday, June 19th, 2016

How do you skim through a digital book? by Chloe Roberts.

From the post:

We’ve had a couple of digitised books that proved really popular with online audiences. Perhaps partly reflecting the interests of the global population, they’ve been about prostitutes and demons.

I’ve been especially interested in how people have interacted with these popular digitised books. Imagine how you’d pick up a book to look at in a library or bookshop. Would you start from page one, laboriously working through page by page, or would you flip through it, checking for interesting bits? Should we expect any different behaviour when people use a digital book?

We collect data on aggregate (nothing personal or trackable to our users) about what’s being asked of our digitised items in the viewer. With such a large number of views of these two popular books, I’ve got a big enough dataset to get an interesting idea of how readers might be using our digitised books.

Focusing on ‘Compendium rarissimum totius Artis Magicae sistematisatae per celeberrimos Artis hujus Magistros. Anno 1057. Noli me tangere’ (the 18th century one about demons) I’ve mapped the number of page views (horizontal axis) against page number (vertical axis, with front cover at the top), and added coloured bands to represent what’s on those pages.

Chole captured and then analyzed the reading behavior of readers on two very popular electronic titles.

She explains her second observation:

Observation 2: People like looking at pictures more than text

by suggesting the text being in Latin and German may explain the fondness for the pictures.

Perhaps, but I have heard the same observation made about Playboy magazine. 😉

From a documentation/training perspective, Chole’s technique, for digital training materials, could provide guidance on:

  • Length of materials
  • Use of illustrations
  • Organization of materials
  • What material is habitually unread?

If critical material isn’t being read, exhorting newcomers to read more carefully, is not the answer.

If security and/or on-boarding reading isn’t happening, as shown by reader behavior, that’s your fault, not the readers.

Your call, successful staff and customers or failing staff and customers you can blame for security faults and declining sales.

Choose carefully.

Thanks for Unguling

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Thanks-for-Ungluing launches!

From the post:

Great books deserve to be read by all of us, and we ought to be supporting the people who create these books. “Thanks for Ungluing” gives readers, authors, libraries and publishers a new way to build, sustain, and nourish the books we love.

“Thanks for Ungluing” books are Creative Commons licensed and free to download. You don’t need to register or anything. But when you download, the creators can ask for your support. You can pay what you want. You can just scroll down and download the book. But when that book has become your friend, your advisor, your confidante, you’ll probably want to show your support and tell all your friends.

We have some amazing creators participating in this launch.

An attempt to address the problem of open access to published materials while at the same time compensating authors for their efforts.

There is some recent material and old standbys like The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Which is good but having more recent works such as A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutiérrez would be better.

If you are thinking about writing a book on CS topics, please think about “Thanks for Ungluing” as an option.

I first saw this in a tweet by Tim O’Reilly.

Working Drafts available in EPUB3

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

Working Drafts available in EPUB3 by Ivan Herman.

From the post:

As reported elsewhere, the Digital Publishing Interest Group has published its first two public Working Drafts. Beyond the content of those documents, the publication has another aspect worth mentioning. For the first time, “alternate” versions of the two documents have been published, alongside the canonical HTML versions, in EPUB3 format. Because EPUB3 is based on the Open Web Platform, it is a much more faithful alternative to the original content than, for example, a PDF version (which has also been used, time to time, as alternate versions of W3C documents). The EPUB3 versions (of the “Requirements for Latin Text Layout and Pagination“ and the “Annotation Use Cases” Drafts, both linked from the respective documents’ front matter) can be used, for example, for off-line reading, relying on different EPUB readers, available either as standalone applications or as browser extensions.

(The EPUB3 versions were produced using a Python program, also available on github.)

Interesting work but also a reminder that digital formats will continue to evolve as long as they are used.

How well will your metadata transfer to a new system or application?

Or are you suffering from vendor lock?

E-Books Directory

Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

E-Books Directory

From the webpage:

Welcome! We have exactly 8631 free e-books in 649 categories.

E-Books Directory is a daily growing list of freely downloadable ebooks, documents and lecture notes found all over the internet. You can submit and promote your own ebooks, add comments on already posted books or just browse through the directory below and download anything you need.

Welcome additions to your reader device!

An arm saver as well: A New Kind of Science by Stephen (EN) Wolfram. (EN = Editor Needed)

Curious, do you think eBooks are going to lead to longer (read poorly edited) books in general?

Intelligent Content:…

Monday, January 14th, 2013

Intelligent Content: How APIs Can Supply the Right Content to the Right Reader by Adam DuVander.

From the post:

When you buy a car, it comes with a thick manual that probably sits in your glove box for the life of the car. The experience with a new luxury car may be much different. That printed, bound manual may only contain the information relevant to your car. No leather seats, no two page spread on caring for the hide. That’s intelligent content. And it’s an opportunity for APIs to help publishers go way beyond the cookie cutter printed book. It also happens to be an exciting conference coming to San Francisco in February.

It takes effort to segment content, especially when it was originally written as one piece. There are many benefits to those that put in the effort to think of their content as a platform. Publisher Pearson did this with a number of its titles, most notably with its Pearson Eyewitness Guides API. Using the API, developers can take what was a standalone travel book–say, the Eyewitness Guide to London–and query individual locations. One can imagine travel apps using the content to display great restaurants or landmarks that are nearby, for example.

Traditional publishing is a market that is ripe for disruption, characterized by Berkeley professor Robert Glushko co-creating a new approach to academic textbooks with his students in the Future of E-books. Glushko is one of the speakers at the Intelligent Content Conference, which will bring together content creators, technologists and publishers to discuss the many opportunities. Also speaking is Netflix’s Daniel Jacobson, who architected a large redesign of the Netflix API in order to support hundreds of devices. And yes, I will discuss the opportunities for content-as-a-service via APIs.

ProgrammableWeb readers can still get in on the early bird discount to attend Intelligent Content, which takes place February 7-8 in San Francisco.

San Francisco in February sounds like a good idea. Particularly if the future of publishing is on the agenda.

Would observe that “intelligent content” implies that some one, that is a person, has both authored the content and designed the API. Doesn’t happen auto-magically.

And with people involved, our old friend semantic diversity is going to be in the midst of the discussions, proposals and projects.

Reliable collation of data from different publishers (universities with multiple subscriptions should be pushing for this now) could make access seamless to end users.

Books as Islands/Silos – e-book formats

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

After posting about the panel discussion on the future of the book, I looked up the listing of e-book formats at Wikipedia and found:

  1. Archos Diffusion
  2. Broadband eBooks (BBeB)
  3. Comic Book Archive file
  4. Compiled HTML
  5. DAISY – ANSI/NISO Z39.86
  6. Desktop Author
  7. DjVu
  8. EPUB
  9. eReader
  10. FictionBook (Fb2)
  11. Founder Electronics
  12. Hypertext Markup Language
  13. iBook (Apple)
  14. IEC 62448
  15. KF8 (Amazon Kindle)
  16. Microsoft LIT
  17. Mobipocket
  18. Multimedia eBooks
  19. Newton eBook
  20. Open Electronic Package
  21. Portable Document Format
  22. Plain text files
  23. Plucker
  24. PostScript
  25. SSReader
  26. TealDoc
  27. TEBR
  28. Text Encoding Initiative
  29. TomeRaider

Beyond different formats, the additional issue being that each book stands on its own.

Imagine a “hover” over a section of interest in a book and relevant other “sections” from other books are also displayed.

Is anyone working on a mapping across these various formats? (Not conversion, “mapping across” language chosen deliberately. Conversion might violate a EULA. Navigation with due regard to the EULA would be difficult to prohibit.)

I realize some of them are too seldom used for commercially viable material to be of interest. Or may be of interest only in certain markets (SSReader for instance).

Not the classic topic map case of identifying duplicate content in different guises but producing navigation across different formats to distinct material.

Context matters: Search can’t replace a high-quality index

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

Context matters: Search can’t replace a high-quality index

Joe Wikert writes:

I’ve never consulted an index in an ebook. From a digital content point of view, indexes seem to be an unnecessary relic of the print world. The problem with my logic is that I’m thinking of simply dropping a print index into an ebook, and that’s as shortsighted as thinking the future of ebooks in general is nothing more than quick-and-dirty conversions of print books. In this TOC podcast interview, Kevin Broccoli, CEO of BIM Publishing Services, talks about how indexes can and should evolve in the digital world.

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

  • Why bother with e-indexes? — Searching for raw text strings completely removes context, which is one of the most valuable attributes of a good index. [Discussed at the 1:05 mark.]
  • Index mashups are part of the future — In the digital world you should be able to combine indexes from books on common topics in your library. That’s exactly what IndexMasher sets out to do. [Discussed at 3:37.]
  • Indexes with links — It seems simple but almost nobody is doing it. And as Kevin notes, wouldn’t it be nice for ebook retailers to offer something like this as part of the browsing experience? [Discussed at 6:24.]
  • Index as cross-selling tool — The index mashup could be designed to show live links to content you own but also include entries without links to content in ebooks you don’t own. Those entries could offer a way to quickly buy the other books, right from within the index. [Discussed at 7:28.]
  • Making indexes more dynamic — The entry for “Anderson, Chris” in the “Poke The Box” index on IndexMasher shows a simple step in this direction by integrating a Google and Amazon search into the index. [Discussed at 9:42.]

Apologies but I left the links out to the interview to encourage you to visit the original. It is really worth your time.

Do these points sound like something a topic map could do? 😉

BTW, I am posting a note to IndexMasher and will advise. Sounds very interesting.

Paper vs. Electronic Brick, What’s the Difference?

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

I think the comparison that Elmer Masters is looking for in The Future of The (Case)Book Is The Web, is paper vs. electronic brick, what’s the difference?

He writes:

Recently there has been an explosion of advances in the ebook arena. New tools, new standards and formats, and new platforms seem to be coming out every day. The rush to get books into an “e” format is on, but does it make a real difference?

The “e” versions of books offer little in the way of improvement over the print version of the same book. Sure, these new formats provide a certain increase in accessibility over print by running on devices that are lighter than print books and allow for things like increasing font size, but there is little else. It is, after all, just a matter of reading the same text on some sort of screen instead of paper.

Markelaw school booksters will tell you that the Kindle, Nook, iPad, and various software readers are the future of the book, an evolutionary, if not revolutionary, step in reading and learning. But that does not ring true. These platforms are really just another form for print. So now beside hard cover and paperback, you can get the same content on any number of electronic platforms. Is that so revolutionary? Things like highlighting and note taking are just replications of the analog versions. Like their analog counterparts, notes and highlights on these platforms are typically locked to the hardware or software reader, no better than the highlights and margin notes of print books. These are just closed platforms, “e” or print, just silos of information.

Unlocking the potential of a book that is locked to a specific platform requires moving the book to an open platform with no real limits like the web. On the web the the book is suddenly expansive. Anything that you can do on the web, you can do with a book. As an author, reader, student, teacher, scholar; anything is possible with a book that is on the open web. The potential for linking, including external material, use of media, note taking, editing, markup, remixing are opened without the bounds of a specific reader platform. A book as a website provides the potential for unlimited customization that will work across any hardware platform.

If you have ever seen a print version of a law school casebook, you know what I mean by “paper brick.”

If you have a Kindle, Nook, etc., with a law school casebook, you know what I mean by “electronic brick.”

The latter is smaller, lighter, can carry more content, but it is still a brick, albeit an electronic one.

Elmer’s moniker “website” covers an HTML engine that serves out topic map augmented content.

We have all seen topic map engines that export to HTML output.

What about specifying HTML authoring that is by default the equivalent to the export a topic map?

And tools that automatically capture such website content and “merge” it with other specified content? A “point and click” interface for authors.

All from the FWB (Friendly Web Browser). 😉

eBooks and Topic Maps

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Opportunities for topic maps as stand alone information products.

The Kobo eReader has 1 GB of storage standard and holds up to 1,000 titles. Topic maps for either for content navigation in general or particular books. A topic map of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” might excite one of my college English professors, I don’t think it would be a real “hot” number in terms of sales. (Austen’s work is the default on the advertising I get at Border’s. Your display may be different.) For further information, Kobo Developer Program

Kindle (Amazon product) is another option. I would put in a link to their developer resources but all the strings have tracking information embedded in them. Just go to Amazon and follow the links to the Kindle resources. (A simple link to developer resources would be nice, just in case you know someone at Amazon.)

Or Lulu, a traditional print-on-demand/ebook publisher, has released LuLu for Developers. The LuLu company profile points out that in 2008, there were 276,489 books traditionally published in the United States. LuLu alone published 400,000 titles last year. Perhaps not every title merits a topic map but what if you created a topic map for a group of titles? That would promote sales of the titles as a group and be a value add to users.

Suppose I should also mention iPad Apps. Since I don’t have a cell phone, much less an iPhone, this one would be a really steep learning curve for me. Please post pointers to anyone developing topic maps for the iPad.

I haven’t tried one of these eformats with topic maps (yet) but suspect that once a book is “in” any of the formats, reliable pointing into them will be possible.

Imagine the “truth squads” who would want sell their “version” along side popular books. And then responses, using your topic map to reply to the first response.