DMC3 06: Emerging Publishing Environments

DMC3: Session 06: Emerging Publishing Environments
Ti 02.11 - 13:00-15.30 teaching session: H1009 (auditorium)


Social: Collaborative Manuals and Book Sprints

Floss Manuals

Book Sprints

"Tomas Krag.. conceived of book production as a collaborative activity involving substantial donations of volunteer time.

Tomas pioneered the development of the Book Sprint as a 3-4 month production cycle, while Adam Hyde, founder of FLOSS Manuals, was keen to continue with the idea of an 'extreme book sprint,' which compressed the authoring and production of a print-ready book into a week-long process."


Adam Hyde: 'Book Sprint Textbooks…anyone?'

"Book Sprints utilise collaborative environments. The only Book Sprint (1) I know of before we did them (2) used word processing documents – passing these around via email between collaborators – and a wiki for collecting the articles. Part way through the process they gathered in person to develop the outline in a one week intensive ‘Outline Sprint’ and then proceeded to collaborate via email and a wiki over a period of 4-6 months. After the material was complete the group passed the documents through several editing stages. The process cut the standard industry timeline down by about 30-50%. Zero to book in 4-6 months is still pretty good in the publishing industry.

However for FLOSS Manuals 4-6 months was too long. We wanted to do it in 5 days and so we needed a quicker methodology and a better tool set. Wikis might come to your mind immediately as it did to us. However we had already realised that wikis were not built with the right paradigm. Books are very structured and wikis are not. That is the essence of it – I don’t want to get into ‘future of the book’ discussions. Books can be many things, so I am talking here of what ‘most’ people mean by a book. A one piece cover, several hundred pages, table of contents, structured readable and comprehensive content, self contained with very few references to other parts of the document and careful use of outside references instead of a welter of back-and-forth hyperlinks. We built a system that could produce this kind of book – paper books – in a Book Sprint environment. Zero to book in 5 days – that leaves about 3 minutes at the end to produce book formatted PDF ready to upload to a PoD service or send to the local printer. That is what we needed and wikis don’t enable you to do that. So we hand rolled our own. The first generation was built on T-Wiki and we pushed it to its outer limits with extensions built by Aleksandar Erkalovic and a PDF renderer built by Luka Frelih. Now we are onto the second generation – Booki (a BOOK-wikI if you will). It does the same job as the first tool set, but does it better – its easier to use, more flexible, and it supports a greater number of possible output formats and types.

While Booki does a lot and its hard to imagine a Book Sprint without it, there are limits to working digitally in a Book Sprint. Certainly we also experience the highs of surprising networked collaboration. One sprint (‘Introduction to the Command Line’) was written almost entirely remotely and written in 2 days (Mako Hill, FSF Board member and renown hacker said it was the best book on its topic). However there are also limits to digital media and digital networks. I believe that there is less knowledge passed through digital media communication channels when collaborating. I firmly believe this – otherwise we would have all of our Book Sprints remote – it would cut down on logistics and costs. However text based chat does not convey enough information, VOIP is terrible for more than 2 people at a time and even then I wonder at its real usefulness in intensive collaboration, and email is just too slow and the ‘unthreaded’ nature of email will soon drive you crazy in this kind of environment. Microblogging is as good as IRC in this instance – ie. barely useful. Sneaker networks are not only faster but more fluid and they enable better shared understandings, quicker."

(1) The idea of a Book Sprint as outlined in the article by Marco Zenaro et al was the brain child of Tomas Krag

(2) Marco Zennaro, Enrique Canessa, Carlo Fonda, Martin Belcher, Rob Flickenger, “Book Sprint” in The International Journal of the Book (Melbourne, Australia, Common Ground Publishing, 2006) Vol 2 Number 4.

Example: Collaborative Futures Book


Publishing: Self-publishing Book Systems


Adam Hyde: Book Design with CSS

"Book creation is usually managed in multiple environments – the simplest tool chain consists of the writing and editing environment – usually a word processor – and the design environment – usually a Desktop Publishing software such as Scribus or InDesign. The transition is time consuming and ‘clunky’ and made worse if multiple text sources are to be combined in the design processes.

Additionally this process means there are 2 sources for the text. Changes made to the text once the source is in the design environment usually have to be copied also into the word processing files if the integrity of that source is to be maintained and vice versa.
It would be simpler if there was one environment that could be used for creating and editing AND for design. That is what we have created with Booki.

Booki enables content creation through a web interface. Chapters can be easily moved around and content can be easily modified through a very simple WYSIWYG interface. The design environment is also booki and is web based, and we have developed a technology for creating book formatted PDF using CSS."



"Book Oven works closely with the authors to help create the best of their published works. Book Oven is an online community that gathers creators in need of feedback and, if necessary, helps to push creators out of their writer’s block. How does Book Oven do this? Book Oven works through the interactive development of creators’ own work and the distraction and inspiration of working on some other writer’s text.

Book Oven helps authors right from the start—from the stage of turning in their manuscripts to publishing support to the finished book. It is intended for writers, of course, but also for editors, designers, and small presses. Book Oven is a virtual place where people get together to create the best books possible. The website acknowledges the premise that no book is made by one person alone, and it manages to get experienced creators together, working as a team; readers who can give useful feedback, editors that better the content, proofreaders who make it clean, and designers that work on its looks."


  • publishing a book is (almost always) a collaborative enterprise
  • online tools (should) make collaboration on making books easy(er)
  • if you build a "book" in the cloud, using structured mark-up, then expression of that book in various forms (print, epub, pdf, mobipocket, html, etc), on various devices (including paper & print) becomes arbitrary, and should be nearly trivial
  • further, if the "book" exists in the cloud, then the range of things that can be done with this "book" multiplies significantly
  • if a system built on these ideals is implemented well, it will be transformative, both for professional publishing workflows, and for the emergence of a new grassroots of indie publishing



Proboscis: Diffusion & Bookleteer


Printing: Print-on-demand of Books

Objavi (for FLOSS Manuals)


7 Things you should know about Lulu (Educational perspective) (UK)


Social Magazines (Microblogging into Magazines)
"A newspaper built from all the articles, blog posts, videos and photos shared on Twitter or Facebook".


The Ultimate TweetDeck Tutorial [01.25-06.00]


First look at “revolutionary” social news iPad app: Flipboard

“It turns your Facebook and Twitter account into something that looks like a magazine. It also lets you build a custom magazine, either by choosing from Flipboard’s pre-built curated “boards” or by importing Twitter lists. This is a very powerful and engaging way to read Twitter. You can also turn a single person’s Twitter account, or a single brand’s Twitter account, into a Flipboard


1. Touch an article and it “zooms” to reveal more.
2. Touch a video and it plays inline.
3. Turn your iPad and everything reconfigures, even photos switch from vertical to horizontal formats.
4. Touch “read more on Web” on longer articles and instantly be transported to the original website that was the originator of the information discussed in the tweet.
5. When you bring in your Facebook friends your friends’ photos, status messages, will all be laid out in attractive pages.
6. You can touch to share, favorite, like, or retweet, depending on what you are reading.”

Exclusive first look: A new kind of social media news reader: FlipBoard

5 minutes with Flipboard

Interactive Applications & Electronic Books

Electronic Popables

Indie publisher McSweeneys Iphone Repository

Alice for iPad

Between Page and Screen


Pioneering Physical Books

“Visual Editions, nicknamed VE, is a London-based book publisher, started in early 2009 by Anna and Britt. The idea for VE comes from our joint love of books and a (mischievous) desire to do things differently, so that everything we do translates into a new experience for our readers, and for all the writers and designers we work with. What we do is make sure we turn all that love and mischief into beautifully, lovingly, wonderfully written and crafted books.

We wondered why there is such a large divide between text-driven literary books on the one hand and picture-driven art and design books on the other. And we wondered why this divide seems so extreme, when most of us compute visuals in our everyday more than ever before. We believe this visual everydayness adds to the way we read, it adds to the way we experience what we read and the way we absorb and understand the way stories are told: through words and pictures.”



Book of mPub

“The Book of MPub curates research and critical thinking from students in the 2010 Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University. In doing so, it makes a contribution to a collective discourse on innovative technologies in publishing—epublishing, new business models, and crowd sourcing and social media. The Book of MPub furthers discussion in three formats: blog, ebook and the classic, ever-evocative print form. The experimental process is itself research, and both documentation of the insights gained and the final product are comprehensive resources for the publishing industry at large.”


The Literary Platform (UK)

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