Access 2012 Day 2: Keeping Books Open

David Binkley Memorial Lecture by Hugh McGuire

What is a book?

The distinction between “the internet” & “books” is totally arbitrary, and will disappear in 5 years.

The book is defined as a discrete coherent collection. The boundaries of a book are critically important. The creator’s intention is important. The book is intended to be coherent.

Why are books important?

A book is an best effort at providing all you need to know or feel on a particular topic.

Books govern our knowledge. A book is a:

node of knowledge.

That knowledge (and nodes) shapes our world. It’s the fabric of our world.

Books are a Network

The web was built to transform information. There is an expression of value based on links (what something is linked from and linked to). Each book should have a URL on the internet, and live natively on the web.

Wikipedia might be the best example. An article is edited by multiple authors, links to other articles to give context, and citations begin to organize external sources. Brings together knowledge into a container that makes these pieces useful.

If the web is the most efficient way to disseminate information, and books are the nodes of knowledge, why are books not published online?

What is the Business Model?

No pressing business case to publish directly online. The disruption that this will cause when it happen will be huge.

What does information want?

Information wants to be free. – Stewart Brand

Information wants to be used, and it doesn’t trust you to know how to use it correctly.

Why are books kept off to the side, apart from the network? The Business Model.

Example (of Business Model)

Build books as a web object, then make it downloadable, printable, etc.

Engagement around the idea happened through twitter, an article on theguardian which discusses the idea from the chapter, and a lot of referrals happened.

On the side: provided analytics for web version of the book.

A webbook can generate interest in ways that an ebook cannot. The ideas in a webbook spread far more quickly, and far more easily than an ebook. Easier to find, built in analytics, and can have different business models.

You have a direct connection with the reader. Whereas with an ebook, you’re one step away.

Why Books Will Live on the Web

  • not defined by format
  • most important nodes of knowledge
  • web is most efficient technology to share
  • disseminate, find, use, build on in ways cannot be imagined by the original

The Process/Model

Creating an ebook is still hard, but online tools like PressBooks/Vook/Atavist/Booktype make it (almost) trivial and free.

The avalanche of books will be overwhelming once the tools become widely known. Other kinds of book writing activity will gain relevance, meaning more and more writing will be “out there”.

More ebooks means each book is harder to find in promotion, discovery, etc. This ultimately means that those who connect with their readers better will win (which is what the web is great at).

Will ask why there even needs to be a business model, which will bring many books online.

The Book: Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto

More notes on the Access 2012 Live Blog.

Published by

Cynthia

A librarian learning the ways of technology, accessibility, metadata, and people

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