Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Creating your own ebook #vala14 #bcb

Chris Cormack, with throbbing leg and nauseous belly, delivered a session bursting with so many ideas that I'm still putting together all the resources he provided.

After a greeting in Moari the author of Koha delivered a measured rant that put him more in the Aaron Swartz camp than the big publisher camp. My interpretation of his thesis is that digital publishing completely changes the 'book' business model, and powerful companies are trying desperately to preserve the old system where a book was a non transmittable, nearly non-replicable item of information. 
The system has to change, but it's unlikely the publishers will drive the change so Chris in 'Don't die like an octopus die like a shark' mode wants to show people how easy it is to create an ebook, to democratize access to the tools of ebook production. Ebook production is easy - but creating content is just as hard as it's ever been - but publishers don't create content, they control the mechanisms of publishing.

And that was just the start - I'll try and list the tools and thoughts around them.
First up he got us to log into an instance of BookType he'd set up in a couple of hours on a German host - he says any IT department could do it in an afternoon. BookType is the tool of choice of FlossManuals.

So we started on our books after about 5 minutes.  While we fiddle Chris kept coming up with related tools and thoughts like
  • Project Gutenberg has a self-publish option
  • By handholding our users through tortuous ebook platforms library staff are effectively unpaid 'groomers/promoters' for those publishers
  • TOR Books don't use DRM (the tool of choice for fabricating scarcity) but are still turning a profit
  • IE should not be used with BookType (actually the last two words are redundant
  • Using Calibre to publish your book in different formats (PDF, epub et al)
  • Using Google Docs to create and collaborate on the 'raw' content then use BookType to format it as an ebook
  • Libraries offering an inhouse ebook publishing service, a digital 'makerspace'
  • BookType can import an ebook from the internet archive, simply.
  • Using http://www.online-convert.com/ to convert between ebook formats (or anything else for that matter)
  • You can sell your ebooks via WordPress using the free ecommerce plug-in WooCommerce
  • Or you could host your ebooks on http://dpubs.org/
  • You can promote them using Open Publications Distribution System en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OPDS
  • Why not get your own Open Book feed reader!
  • Worried about version control? Flashbake monitors nominated directory creating versions of files
  • Pay what you want. Support charity. Get eleven extraordinary audiobooks.' Just giggles check out the weekly sales data to see which OS users pays the most on average (Scroll down on the Games page)
So many toys to play with! Do we have a role in epublishing? I would like to see us collaborate within and without JCU on open etextbook production, and Chris shows that the tools aren't the barrier it's the will and effort.

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