The World Wide Web
(of books?)
Aaron Miller, BiB 2010
The Internet Archive,
San Francisco
Who Am I?
Been doing Web
Dirty Work for 15
years. Also been a
writer, (web)
publisher, and
writing teacher.
Other than Qua...
How Did I Get Here?
1999:
Web as a publishing
platform interesting,
but needed a better
long-form reading
interface.
Built...
BookGlutton
2007: Inspired by Ajax,
built BookGlutton with
Travis Alber.
Now, up against new
limitations: content
and plat...
Famous Last Words?
"The Web is a great
promotional tool, but
not a medium for our
content."
—Big Publisher
"People are
con...
A New Strain of Publisher
"Let's put our books up there
and then figure out what else
to charge for."
—Cloud Publisher
leg...
Publishers, Evolve!
Marketplace Model Number of Documents Revenue
Books Consumption Millions Sales
Web Experience Billions...
• e-books can't be easily updated
• e-books can't incorporate dynamic data
• e-books can't report activity or respond to
u...
Publishers, Evolve! (Part II)
Every book has an ideal
community which is not
necessarily the same as
its audience.
The mar...
Community vs. Audience
Community is often the evolution of an audience.Audience passive consume seek
content
search ignore...
Evolution: Four Years Out
Books are large enough to provide many shareable
points, and those points have more permanence.
...
The Layer Theory of Book Evolution
Books will remain books, and other services,
including the Web, will be layered on top ...
One Possible Stratification
hyperlink
book
social
link scenes, passages, words, characters, etc to other books, to website...
ReadSocial Unbound Reader
Announcing Two New Projects
ReadSocial
A distributed system of social features and data,
usable by any app, application, device or web
community.
http...
Unbound Reader OS
Over next 2 months, we're open sourcing the
BookGlutton publishing platform and Web-
based social readin...
Contact Info
twitter: @vaporbook @bookgluttonNEWS
email: aaron@bookglutton.com
blog: frontmatters.com
World Wide Web of Books
World Wide Web of Books
World Wide Web of Books
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World Wide Web of Books

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Aaron Miller, CTO of BookGlutton, talks about the history of BookGlutton and social reading, the difference between audience and community, and the new Read Social API, that allows people to create groups and share notes across different reading systems. http://www.readsocialAPI.com

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  • I've been doing Web development, which includes writing, design and engineering, for 15 years. I've also been a writer, publisher, and teacher of writing.From a technology perspective, the worlds of book tech and Web tech have remained generally separate. Not only are the problems different, but the communities who solve them don't cross-pollinate.So how did I get here?In 1999, I had zero interest in e-books. I knew about Project Gutenberg, and I was mildly interested in the RocketBook when it came out, but as far as the prospect of reading a digital book, the Web was profoundly more exciting. But I was still interested in how books might fit into it. I was a writer myself, and I threw myself into researching the idea of web publication -- that a book might be published, distributed and consumed entirely online. I built an experimental interface for reading a book at its own domain and URL, but ultimately was disappointed by the limitations of the technology.Years later, in 2007, the phenomenon of Web 2.0, powered by a technology called Ajax, made me intensely curious again. Not only that, living in remote places like Guanjuato and Krakow while admiring obscure English-language books made me contemplate the odds that I would run into someone else in my town who had read the same books, versus the odds that of all the people online, I could find someone there. I thought: if my favorite books were online, and I could see when people opened them, I would suddenly be able to have conversations I could have never otherwise had. This was the beginning of the BookGlutton project.Now, I've once again become frustrated by the limits of technology. Not the technology of the interface or the interaction this time, but the technology of the content and the platforms of its distribution.
  • I've been doing Web development, which includes writing, design and engineering, for 15 years. I've also been a writer, publisher, and teacher of writing.From a technology perspective, the worlds of book tech and Web tech have remained generally separate. Not only are the problems different, but the communities who solve them don't cross-pollinate.So how did I get here?In 1999, I had zero interest in e-books. I knew about Project Gutenberg, and I was mildly interested in the RocketBook when it came out, but as far as the prospect of reading a digital book, the Web was profoundly more exciting. But I was still interested in how books might fit into it. I was a writer myself, and I threw myself into researching the idea of web publication -- that a book might be published, distributed and consumed entirely online. I built an experimental interface for reading a book at its own domain and URL, but ultimately was disappointed by the limitations of the technology.Years later, in 2007, the phenomenon of Web 2.0, powered by a technology called Ajax, made me intensely curious again. Not only that, living in remote places like Guanjuato and Krakow while admiring obscure English-language books made me contemplate the odds that I would run into someone else in my town who had read the same books, versus the odds that of all the people online, I could find someone there. I thought: if my favorite books were online, and I could see when people opened them, I would suddenly be able to have conversations I could have never otherwise had. This was the beginning of the BookGlutton project.Now, I've once again become frustrated by the limits of technology. Not the technology of the interface or the interaction this time, but the technology of the content and the platforms of its distribution.
  • I've been doing Web development, which includes writing, design and engineering, for 15 years. I've also been a writer, publisher, and teacher of writing.From a technology perspective, the worlds of book tech and Web tech have remained generally separate. Not only are the problems different, but the communities who solve them don't cross-pollinate.So how did I get here?In 1999, I had zero interest in e-books. I knew about Project Gutenberg, and I was mildly interested in the RocketBook when it came out, but as far as the prospect of reading a digital book, the Web was profoundly more exciting. But I was still interested in how books might fit into it. I was a writer myself, and I threw myself into researching the idea of web publication -- that a book might be published, distributed and consumed entirely online. I built an experimental interface for reading a book at its own domain and URL, but ultimately was disappointed by the limitations of the technology.Years later, in 2007, the phenomenon of Web 2.0, powered by a technology called Ajax, made me intensely curious again. Not only that, living in remote places like Guanjuato and Krakow while admiring obscure English-language books made me contemplate the odds that I would run into someone else in my town who had read the same books, versus the odds that of all the people online, I could find someone there. I thought: if my favorite books were online, and I could see when people opened them, I would suddenly be able to have conversations I could have never otherwise had. This was the beginning of the BookGlutton project.Now, I've once again become frustrated by the limits of technology. Not the technology of the interface or the interaction this time, but the technology of the content and the platforms of its distribution.
  • "The Web is a great promotional tool, but not a medium for our content." —Big Publisher"People are conditioned to believe everything they consume on the Web should be free. They'll never pay for our books." —Small Publisher"Let's put our books up there and figure out what they'll pay for." —Web Publisher
  • What's the history of this effort? Books were among the first documents on the Web, so why are they so slow to adapt? Perhaps it's time for a new kind of publisher to emerge.
  • One reason this new kind of publisher has not yet taken hold, is the emphasis on consumption of content rather than the environment in which it's consumed.
     
    Project Gutenberg has always boasted about how many books are downloaded, not how they are read or used. Every online distributor, digital or otherwise, boasts about how many books are sold, not how many are read. The nature of the industry is to tally volume, at the consumer level, not to examine the way people read or how they share and talk about books.
    Until Google Books, there was no content online. There were millions of Gutenberg texts that not many people were interested in reading.Until the iPhone and iPod Touch, only shitty browsers were available on mobile devices, and the good ones ran on clunky hardware that most people associated with work, not play.The desktop computer helped popularize PDF, word processing and desktop publishing. These led the charge for authoring and page-fidelity, but at the expense of the defining characteristic of Web content: reflowability.Until the iPad, the devices that worked well as Web devices still suffered from small screens. The iPad has solved the hardware problem along with the browser problem.
  • For content producers, all this means they're sending out their content to closed systems, never to be heard from again, except as the gatekeepers of those systems see fit.The way it SHOULD be is that content gets sent out, and publishers can update it as they see fit, and reading systems allow external sources of content and data to be pulled in, and publishers can LINK to their OTHER PUBLICATIONS. Not only that, but readers can INTERACT with the content, and that activity can have repercussions outside of that content. Publishers can see how readers are interacting with that content -- how many times a title is opened, how many times it's annotated. Detailed, granular reporting on usage -- uniques, daily uniques, visits, and more. This kind of data would be fabulously valuable for publishers.In short, what is still lacking from books are the things the Web already offers for other documents.
  • The market needs to evolve from an audience-based market to a community-based market.Every book has an ideal community which is not necessarily the same as its audience.
  • Key differences:Communities are interested in topics within and around content, not just the content itself.Communities like to exchange stories and talk about them, while audiences are intent on absorbing them.Communities rally around ideas, while audiences rally around events.Communities gather to interact, while audiences want to be passive.Communities like to have themed spaces in which to interactCommunities will pay for spaces, access and entertainment, while audiences will pay to listen, watch and absorb.Communities seek out each other, while audiences just seek out content.Communities recommend, while audiences search.
  • In the last 4 years, the reading experience of ebooks has evolved by leaps and bounds, but we're not seeing a lot of service integration or openness, especially along commercial fronts, where the market power of a $50B industry could revolutionize on a mass scale.Now we have many single services, pushing out similar ways to read books, with nearly identical feature sets and nearly identical data and content sources. We've reached another plateau.In the next 4 years, these feature sets on reading experience will continue to standardize, along with interfaces.The new front for innovation is in service integration. Expect different features to emerge than you'd see on the Web. Sharing pieces of content from books is more important to people than sharing whole entities -- an example is the ubiquity and diversity of sharing services on web articles, blog posts, periodical web content, which serve to share entire documents or posts in a timely manner.These fulfill a need less present with books, where the whole is large enough to provide many shareable points, and the points have more permanence and embodiments than most web content ever will. Persistence of this shareability of granules within a book makes it distinct. Accretion will occur more slowly and over longer periods of time, and another layer of services for searching and curating this layer will evolve to meet the demands of sifting through, promoting and permanentizing it.In some ways, digital books are more mineral than we think. Suddenly the normal abstract accretion that happens in a book's lifetime can actually be attached to it, follow it around through time and Web, and continue to gather new data.
  • The Onion Skin Theory of Book EvolutionBooks will not just become Web pages, and web pages will not become books. The container, or the package, whether it be physical binding or metadata and compression, defines the boundaries of the book. Web documents don't exist well outside of the Web (need to be online, link to other documents, pull in data from other sources), and that's what distinguishes them from books.Not to say books won't be able to live on the Web, just to say that, rather than becoming a new kind of content (enhanced, annotated, whatever), books will remain books, and other services, including the Web, will be layered on top of them.Think of these services as enhancement layers, or onion skins added to the book's pages as it goes digital. Think overlays of information and other media. These are distributed, shared, aggregated over time by different providers, and by aggregators of those providers. These layers depend on open systems being adopted by large content distributors, hardware makers, and retailers, or on mass adoption of layers created by small players.
  • There is no one layer to rule them all. And each layer of data and functionality will fall into one of 5 categories:hyperlink layer - link scenes, passages, words, characters, etc to other books, to websites, to other servicesmetadata layer - aggregate metadata from different sourcessocial layer - activities, personal notes, conversationsreal-time layer - event streams, activity around and in the booksknowledge layer - accretion of academic, anecdotal, observational and complimentary enhancements, including notes, multimedia and pointed critique.
    This is why right now we need services that begin to form these layers. Think of web pages overlaid on books, rather than books becoming web pages. And the advantage of that is that the user can swipe these layers away, or lay them over the pages in whatever combination suits her. And the book still exists on its own, unvarnished, in all its different channels, separate from reading systems and social layers.
  • World Wide Web of Books

    1. 1. The World Wide Web (of books?) Aaron Miller, BiB 2010 The Internet Archive, San Francisco
    2. 2. Who Am I? Been doing Web Dirty Work for 15 years. Also been a writer, (web) publisher, and writing teacher. Other than Quark, the world of book tech has generally been distant from everything I've been. EPUB outfit
    3. 3. How Did I Get Here? 1999: Web as a publishing platform interesting, but needed a better long-form reading interface. Built my first novel publishing system in Perl and CGI
    4. 4. BookGlutton 2007: Inspired by Ajax, built BookGlutton with Travis Alber. Now, up against new limitations: content and platforms of distribution. Today: Based at Dogpatch Labs in NYC, building a social API for books.
    5. 5. Famous Last Words? "The Web is a great promotional tool, but not a medium for our content." —Big Publisher "People are conditioned to believe everything they consume on the Web should be free. They'll never pay for online books." —Small Publisher sign o' the times
    6. 6. A New Strain of Publisher "Let's put our books up there and then figure out what else to charge for." —Cloud Publisher legacy platform tower of e-babel
    7. 7. Publishers, Evolve! Marketplace Model Number of Documents Revenue Books Consumption Millions Sales Web Experience Billions Service and Sales Glutton Server From Consumption to Experience
    8. 8. • e-books can't be easily updated • e-books can't incorporate dynamic data • e-books can't report activity or respond to user actions In short, what is still lacking from books are the things the Web already offers for other documents. Epub Was a Big Leap, But Still Old School
    9. 9. Publishers, Evolve! (Part II) Every book has an ideal community which is not necessarily the same as its audience. The market needs to evolve to address both an audience-based market AND a community-based market.
    10. 10. Community vs. Audience Community is often the evolution of an audience.Audience passive consume seek content search ignore context Community interactive prosume seek each other recommend value context
    11. 11. Evolution: Four Years Out Books are large enough to provide many shareable points, and those points have more permanence. Persistence of this quality makes books distinct. Layers of services for searching and curating this layer evolve from this distinction. The new front for innovation is in service integration.
    12. 12. The Layer Theory of Book Evolution Books will remain books, and other services, including the Web, will be layered on top of them. Think of these services as enhancement layers. These layers depend on open systems or mass adoption of simple tools.
    13. 13. One Possible Stratification hyperlink book social link scenes, passages, words, characters, etc to other books, to websites, to other services activities, personal notes, conversations accretion of academic, anecdotal, observational and complimentary enhancements, including notes, multimedia and pointed critique aggregate metadata from different sources - alternate identifiers, catalog data, etc. real-time layer - event streams, activity around and in the books metadata knowledge real-time
    14. 14. ReadSocial Unbound Reader Announcing Two New Projects
    15. 15. ReadSocial A distributed system of social features and data, usable by any app, application, device or web community. http://www.ReadSocialAPI.com
    16. 16. Unbound Reader OS Over next 2 months, we're open sourcing the BookGlutton publishing platform and Web- based social reading system. Epub-to-Web workflow, reflowable pagination, deep linking to paragraphs and more. http://www.ReadSocialAPI.com
    17. 17. Contact Info twitter: @vaporbook @bookgluttonNEWS email: aaron@bookglutton.com blog: frontmatters.com

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