Inside Pressbooks

Book as URL (presentation at IDFP/Book Expo)

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I was asked to present in the opening session of the IDPF conference at Book Expo as part of a panel: “The Evolving Digital Book: 4 Visionary Perspectives,” with Corey Pressman, Richard Nash and Craig Mod. The slides are below, and here is my proposal for the responsibilities of a publisher or author of a book:

A proposal:

10 Recommendations?/Dreams?/Ideas? for “the Book as URL”

  1. A Persistent URL
    Every book should have a persistent URL, something like:
  2. Structured Data
    Every book should live as structured data online.
  3. Provide Book Metadata
    Every book should make ONIX-like top-level metadata available through an open API, eg:

    • cover image
    • title
    • author
    • descriptions (one line, 50 words, unlimited)
    • keywords
    • pub date
    • BISG categories
    • etc.
  4. Aggregate External Metadata
    Every book URL should pull in additional “external” metadata — through APIs — from external services, eg:

    • reviews from “official” sources + review URL
    • reviews from readers (goodreads, facebook,twitter)
    • data from libraries/librarians
    • external “about the book” URLs (wikipedia etc)
    • external “about the author” URLs (wikipedia,authors web site, etc.)
  5. Aggregate annotations
    The book should aggregate the conversation about the book:

    • pull in highlights & comments from open annotation systems (eg Readmill … and others who open their data up … as one hopes Kobo & Kindle will do!)
    • these highlights should be linked to the occurrence in the text itself (since you already have your book as structured data in the cloud)
  6. Porous Web Access
    Allow porous web access to the book:

    • modelled on NYTimes paywall (and GoogleBooks) … allow links into the content itself
    • give readers the ability to read X% before paying (for web & download acces).
  7. Links from book to book
    With a persistent URL, books should be able to link to each other:

    • Enable linking from one book to another book
    • this should be “deep-linking” into text itself (which can be done if those books have good APIs).
  8. Analytics
    Provide real time analytics in the back-end:

    • what is popular & with whom etc.
    • ideally pulling in analytics data from ereaders & other services such as Kobo, Kindle etc. (ha!)
  9. TOC & Indexes
    Expose all Tables of Contents and Indexes (in structured, linked format) to the web:

    • …and while we are at it, expose: lists of tables, figures, images
    • and expose those tables, figures, images as well
  10. Open APIs
    Provide API access to all of this

This all may sound like fantasyland, but using a powerful book CMS (like PressBooks) makes all of this relatively easy, indeed half of it we do already, the other half we expect to roll out in the coming months.

Book as URL from Hugh McGuire

We haven’t built all of this into PressBooks yet, but we will.