Most Important Thing Illuminated

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Very excited that this project is done and out in the world: The Most Important Thing Illuminated, by renowned investor Howard Marks, and annotated several leading lights in the investment world.

This was a project built on PressBooks with Columbia Business School Publishing, and we learned a hell of a lot in the process. We will eventually post a debrief for all to read about the challenges of making this happen: we started with the idea of making the annotations popups, but were stymied by various different versions of iOS handling javascript differently, so we could get popups to work on some iOS devices, but not others. Nevermind working on various Kindle, Nook, and Kobo devices.

Next we decided to make each annotation a linked footnote, to bring the reader to a notes section, and back again. We had a nice technical solution for that, but e-ink devices handled this terribly, and there was enough user testing confusion, that we had to kill that idea as well.

We settled on putting the annotations inline, with some shaded styling on devices that enabled shading and respect CSS, and then degrading (almost) gracefully to horizontal rules and italics separating out the annotations on eink devices that ignore most CSS (*cough* Kindle *cough*).

Finally, this book contains large sections quoted from elsewhere, and eink Kindle don’t really render blockquotes very well across multiple pages, so we had to rebuild how PressBooks handles blockquotes (sticking them in a div, and giving each paragraph a defined style).

Anyway, check it out — it’s a great book.