APIs for Books: Article on O’Reilly Blog

I’ve got a long article up at O’Reilly, “A Publisher’s Job Is to Provide a Good API for Books.” The main premise is that building a good index for an ebook is the same thing as building a good API. If you add some more metadata to your index entries, you can make a great API.

One thing I’d love to see as we move to open source is plugins getting developed to do the things I talk about in this article.

Here is a taste:

And now instead of “just” an index, you have a complete semantic map of your book, a map that was only a little bit harder to produce than the standard index you were going to make anyway.

So what?

With a semantic map like this you have the beginnings of an incredibly powerful API. If in addition to just having the semantic map … you also have your book “live” online (behind an authentication wall or not), it means you can make this semantic map/API available to the world (for free, or under certain commercial arrangements), and say: please, find wonderful things to do with my wonderful book content.

[more on the TOC blog …]