Future of the Book conference notes

On 24-25 June, I attended the Future of the Book conference organised by the Digital Publishing Forum in Auckland.

For the sake of expediency, here are some occasional thoughts and things I took away. Hopefully the presentations will be up on the site soon so you can get a fuller picture.

Talkingtothecan (who I sat next to) has also done an excellent job of summarising some key themes. You can track back through the tweets at #nzdpf too.

General thoughts

Quote of the day for me was the suggestion that E-book readers are “a transitional device for print readers” (the true e-book has not yet been realised). Someone else then paraphrased: E-book readers are "training wheels for baby boomers".

So few NZ book publishers seem to be engaging with e-publications in New Zealand, perhaps because the commercial potential is difficult to detect, and business models are immature. This conference was a great push in the right direction...

But I think we also need to think 'outside the box' (or book) to realise the potential of new media for delivering 'reading' and literacy experiences. I have a feeling this requires a convergence of interests and expertise - libraries, publishers, web developers, readers, writers.

That said, just getting content digital and into the view of people on the move, or in front of a screen, is a great place to start.

Things I didn't really know much about previously

Stanza, free e-book reader for i-Phone mobile devices: “It’s a wireless electronic library that stays open 24/7”.

Talked to Stanza developer who referred me to the Open Publication Distribution System wrt DigitalNZ - a standard for listing online e-book content (i.e. catalogues).

EPUB (formerly Open E-Book) - standard of choice for full text e-publications (Make DigitalNZ full text compatible with EPUB standard?)

A vision we are still aspiring to 20 years after Apple ran the Knowledge Navigator promotion.

If you develop an App for the Apple store, there is no guarantee it will be accepted (all apps are reviewed) - and acceptance takes time (6 days to 11 weeks: plan launches accordingly). The presentation by Karl Von Randow of Cactuslab was a highlight.

http://buzzword.com/ Web-based word processor from Adobe. Good for collaboration, though some question about security.

http://www.nzdl.org/SmartSearch: really impressive use of Wikipedia to start implementing semantic markup from University of Waikato Digital Library team.

http://wikipedia-miner.sourceforge.net/: toolkit for navigating and making use of the structure and content of Wikipedia.

http://www.nzdl.org/Books: online book reading experience - open source PHD project from University of Waikato Digital Library team. We could use this software for something? A content exemplar of some kind?

Digital New Zealand tie-ins

We can definitely help promote E-publications and other online 'books' that publishers produce through the DigitalNZ search engine and discovery tools. Samples would be a great place to start. If you're a publisher and have readerly content online, please do get in touch.

There seemed to be support for a ‘commercial’ repository for e-publications so publishers don’t have to host them. Opportunity for DigitalNZ shared repository (a work in progress) to put up its hand here?

Synergies between the 1000 Great NZ e-books project and the DigitalNZ Make it Digital voting tool. The '1000 Great New Zealand eBooks' promotion is an industry initiative to help seed and grow the market for digital publishing in New Zealand. The Copyright Licensing Limited or the Digital Publishing Forum could use the tool to publish ideas as they come in, and gauge reader interest.

Or our community (which spans from librarians to techies to general readers to anyone online) could nominate books and publishers could pick them up.

Publishers need advice on standards and digital ways and wherefores. Again, the Make it Digital helpdesk site works nicely here. Ask a question, get an answer (not just from us, but by all sorts of voices out there).

If you were at the conference, or following it, or have any comments on the above, I'd love to hear your thoughts too.