Saturday, 31 October 2009

"Books are almost standing in the way of what publishing is becoming now"

A video interview between peers on the subject of how books are rapidly getting in the way of the basic aim of good publishing - that is to say, aggregating authors for interested readers and aggregating readers for interesting authors.

(So how about this as a definition of a book?  "I think of a book as a user interface to a body of information."  Nice.)

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

A cloud of books: "... ubiquitous access and shared experience"

This, from Tim O'Reilly, shows the advantages of an interconnected world of books.  Indeed, in this interconnected world, in some way, the book becomes simply a part of a much much greater whole:
As you can see, many of these features take advantage of the online medium in ways that aren’t possible with standalone ebooks. To be sure, there are times you want your own offline copy, and in Safari Books Online, you can indeed download books or chapters for offline use. But especially given the rise of the smartphone as an access device, the times when we are truly "offline" are becoming few and far between. The vision with which we started Safari, that of always-on access to a library of technical content, not just to individual ebooks, is now within reach. Safari Books Online can be used on a desktop or laptop computer or in the browser on a mobile phone. Everything is always in sync because your library is in the cloud. An ebook cloud works the same way the web itself works. It provides ubiquitous access and shared experience.
More here from this useful post.  The Safari Books Online homepage can be found here.  Subscription details here.  Another example of how to monetise intellectual property not by charging per title but by charging per volume: ie not for what we're looking to read but rather for how much

An overarching access versus the purchase of specific content is the battleground the future clearly entails.  For now, I think I far prefer O'Reilly's cloud to what, in retrospect, may soon begin to appear to be the Kindle's hurried rewriting of an inappropriately bricks and mortar economics.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

www.Poblish.org and wishlist time

www.Poblish.org is close to my heart. I'm more than a little frustrated with how ineffectively Google's algorithms search my own Google-powered Blogger blogs. If you want to try the following experiment, go to www.21stCenturyFix.org and search using either of the search boxes on that page the word "Extremadura".  I guarantee you won't be able to find it.  Not sure why, but I suspect it's because Google prioritises new stuff over old and only finds linked-to stuff, if it finds anything.

Yet that's hardly a definition of something that's necessarily important.  If anything, it's only a definition of something that's notorious.  We are, or I am at least, actually looking for utility here; not fame, not that fifteen minutes of visibility we were all promised.

I know what I'm looking for is there - I mean, I wrote it.  And I know when I want to refer back to something I wrote.  So Google's not doing the job at the moment, not with Blogger.com anyhow.  There are, in fact, occasions when if I search using Google itself, I am able to find something that otherwise I was unable to find by searching from within the blog itself. 

And it's curious how well Google's algorithms continue to work with Gmail. 

Strange matters indeed.

So, anyhow, in the absence of any short-term solution on the horizon from the behemoth of search engines itself, first on my Poblish wishlist is a Poblish search box gadget which searches my own site for any content - and whilst we're at it, whilst we're in an asking frame of mind, any other blog that Poblish is monitoring.

My question must now be: what might be first on your Poblish wishlist?

The huge investment in competencies that revolve around print books ...

... and why this makes e-books a tricky matter. More here via Tim O'Reilly's Twitter feed.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Put a condom on your content

This is a lovely metaphor. More here.

I do have certain reservations, though, which I've already expressed on LabourWave.com. Monetising via advertisers is fine - a hoary old model we're fundamentally used to and just about what everyone does with Web 2.0, from Facebook downwards - but monetising by selling off access to the content we produce is a subtly different approach.

Google initially made money by finding us and then advertising to us. Twitter now seems to plan to be making money, if I at all understand correctly, by using my content as the whole point of their business model. Not selling where I access their services as real estate for advertisers but actually selling my intellectual property itself to the likes of Google and Microsoft.

My inflammatory statements do not belong to me after all. They are, once they emerge, Twitter's responsibility - and they may dispose of them exactly as they see fit.

So maybe the one who is actually beginning to want a condom on his content is yours truly.

Now I begin to understand how the WSJs of the world feel.

Wow! What a turn-up for the books ...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Kindle, UK

I see that Amazon's Kindle is now available in the UK, though you have to order via Amazon.com and you get a North American mains adapter included for your pains.

:-(

Anyhow, the dream of an electronic book free of USB cables and desktop computers comes ever closer. E-book readers are lovely objects but Whispernet-type connections are the key to blasting the competition out of the water.

Competitors take note. It's the access and library that really count - not the pretty face on the outside any more.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

www.Blurb.com

It's been a while since I first came across www.Blurb.com. Then it was a blog "slurper", designed to turn blogs into books. Presumably the market for such a product was decidedly niche-like (too few really good blogs which could usefully move to the printed page, too complex a process perhaps for it to work well enough to convince the potential user); for in the meantime, it seems to have become a kind of jumped-up Quark designed to help turn any material into a professionally bound and dispatched volume for a mightily small price.

An excellent idea. So good, I might try it out this week.

If you're interested and would like to try it yourself, you can find out more here.