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Booktype: An Open Source, Cross-Platform Approach To E-Book Publishing

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the no-presses-to-stop dept.

Books 87

Despite Apple's protestation that the iBooks Author EULA was misinterpreted, the idea of a book publishing system that could be used to grab copyright of the prepared text is annoying — like the sort of EULAs that seem to give photo-sharing sites unlimited re-use rights of hosted personal photos. New submitter rohangarg points out a publishing system which shouldn't have such problems, and is nicely cross-platform besides: "A new open-source digital writing and publishing platform has been launched by non-profit group Sourcefabric. Booktype allows for collaborative editing and writing of books that can be easily outputted to on-demand print services and eReaders such as the Amazon Kindle, Nook, iPad, and more with a few simple clicks. Booktype source can be found here." The online demo also leads to some downloadable examples (as PDFs).

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87 comments

The Slash Fanfic People Will Love This... (2, Funny)

ilikenwf (1139495) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061633)

Coming to a Kindle near you: Captain Kirk and his steamy affair with Oscar the Grouch and Edward Cullen

Re:The Slash Fanfic People Will Love This... (2)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062147)

Booo! The same old plot over and over again!

Wake me up with Spock and Kermit get together. It's not easy being green for logcial reasons.

LaTeX? (4, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061663)

What are the shortcomings of LaTeX that it is not in this converstation? Honest question, not snarking. What does book publishing require that LaTeX doesn't/can't do?

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061773)

Or maybe use this?

http://ximera.org/

Re:LaTeX? (4, Informative)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061933)

The problem is that Latex is made/designed for creating fixed size paper output. It is really not good when you need to output content which can be reflowed depending on the size of the users output device.

Re:LaTeX? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062025)

What are the short comings of HTML for this then?

<p>Here's a paragraph, flow it how you want.

Re:LaTeX? (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062097)

What are the short comings of HTML for this then?

Most ebook formats are just wrapped HTML.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062217)

exactly... webpages are books these days

Re:LaTeX? (1)

sortadan (786274) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063277)

Yeah, I don't really see the need for this new type, but as long as Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] supports it if it catches on then I don't care.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071311)

What are the short comings of HTML for this then?

Kindle and ePub are HTML + images + index files, compressed into a single file.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39076473)

The problem w/ HTML is that one is at the mercy of how the viewing program re-flows the text and breaks the lines.

One winds up w/ a presentation which is rife w/ widows, orphans, stacks and other bad breaks, and in which no effort is made to keep tables or figures viewable from where the original reference is made in the text.

Comparison of a text set in both (plain) TeX ( http://mysite.verizon.net/william_franklin_adams/portfolio/typography/thebookoftea.pdf [verizon.net] ) and as viewed as an ePub ( http://www.mobileread.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=57721&d=1283733557 [mobileread.com] ) in a nicely made version: ... the sort of typographic infelicities which even in the best ePub version can't be controlled for (when viewed in Sony's ebook viewing program) ---

  - one word last lines (too many to count)
  - # of lines on a page constantly changing to prevent widows / orphans
  - overly loose line on the middle of pg. 20
  - 3 word stack on pg. 21 (meditation/Meditation)
  - 2 word stack on pg. 32 (black)
  - 2 word stack on pg. 37 (the) Twice!
  - six word river on pg. 40 (the/their/the/the/its/we)
  - 2 word stacks on pg. 40 (a & We)
  - 3 word stack on pg. 46 (the/the/The)
  - 2 word stack on pg. 47 (a), awkward break at the bottom of the first page of Chapter VII where the poem is referred to, but appears on the following page

In the .pdf I believe there were only one or two places where I let two word stacks stand (because they were intractable) --- will have to try again using xetex and margin protrusion and character expansion (I'd used DEK's macro for hanging punctuation from _The TeXbook_).

(originally posted to http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97542 [mobileread.com] )

Re:LaTeX? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062181)

Thats what she said.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072839)

OK, but how about distributing the LaTeX *source*, and having each device compile it for the screen size? As a bonus, cross-referencing would would work: "see page 35" could become "see page 65" on small screens without further magic.

Of course authors would have to agree on standard LaTeX libraries, otherwise you'd get errors about using your package incorrectly - could be embarrassing.

Right. And believe me, it hurts. (1)

gwolf (26339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080783)

We published a book in paper and PDF formats last November. It took quite a bit of work to get there. We also wanted to make an MOBI/EPUB version available... But translating from a somewhat tweaked LaTeX source file to those formats... has not yet been successful :(

Re:LaTeX? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061999)

What are the shortcomings of LaTeX that it is not in this converstation? Honest question, not snarking. What does book publishing require that LaTeX doesn't/can't do?

E-Book publishing must deal with non-constant "page" sizes. Even on individual devices - when a tablet reader rotates 90 degrees, the book contents must reflow to deal with the new "page" width. Furthermore, users now expect to be able to change fonts and font sizes at will while reading. Rendering needs to be done in the reader software, not during file preparation.

This doesn't exclude LaTeX, but it will be have to be embedded in the reader.

Re:LaTeX? (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062539)

E-Book publishing must deal with non-constant "page" sizes. Even on individual devices - when a tablet reader rotates 90 degrees, the book contents must reflow to deal with the new "page" width. Furthermore, users now expect to be able to change fonts and font sizes at will while reading. Rendering needs to be done in the reader software, not during file preparation.

Tailor-made for HTML. You can specify paragraphs, sections, underline, bold, italic, embed images, hyperlinks... all with reflow and user-specified fonts and sizes and colors.

RANT: That was the original intent of HTML: That the user had control over the look and feel, and the author provided content. It's only been in the last few years that websites started screwing up the whole idea of content following browser resizing -- one of the worst design mistakes made, IMHO, because it wastes the user's expensive desktop space in favor of the designer's "idea." If you're any good, you'll design so you get "that look" at a particular size, then the user can find that and stay there if they want to, rather than being stuck with a hard-coded 1024x window or something like that. You can do some pretty clever things along this line with CSS, but hardly anyone does.

It's gotten to the point where if your content reflows the way it should, a lot of people think you're doing it "wrong." Amazing, really. /RANT

Re:LaTeX? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063275)

Amen! If you're publishing a dead tree book you control the "screen" size and fonts and everything, not so e-material. You don't know the display's size, aspect ratio, or orientation. It could be a tiny phone on a screen or a huge TV screen.

Trying for control like that is retarded.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39063647)

Guess what EPUB is made of.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064041)

Strong user control of presentation is great for documents, bad for browser-based apps, and sends advertising people into absolute fits (so it's got that going for it). I agree with your rant as is applies to normal text, but HTML has grown well beyond its orginal intent, and is used for far more than just presenting a document these days.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39066125)

The main problem for using HTML in publishing, as I understand it, is lack of kerning control. It probably doesn't matter with mass-market e-books, but I know a lot of print designers who cringe when they see HTML documents, as all they can see are the whitespace rivers. There's an obligatory xkcd for someone who wants to dig it up.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39072235)

Yes but remember books are not webpages. You need to render the html to pdf THEN you get kerning controls. There are a lot of realyl good tools out there for this now.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 2 years ago | (#39072309)

Then HTML isn't a suitable format for an ebook; PDF is.

No, no, no! (1)

gwolf (26339) | more than 2 years ago | (#39080839)

PDF is a page layout document. When I read an ebook in my 6" screen (Kindle) and the file was prepared expecting a 13" screen (letter/A4), the result is way less than great. The content should be able to flow according to the medium.

Of course, it will always upset typographers, as they want precise control on how text is laid out – And the very fine craft of avoiding widows and orphans, cancelling rivers (I'm sorry, that might not be the proper English words), etc. is basically unattainable if the user determines the format he likes reading. And yes, with a decent ebook reader, the user will *always* determine the format.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39068169)

I saw the most remarkable thing today. A website that was clearly optimized for a mobile device, in that it was hard-coded at 320px wide.

It. Looked. Awful.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 2 years ago | (#39082547)

The shift came with the change from talking about pages to talking about sites.

With that came the shift to thinking about html in terms of user interfaces rather than documents.

Re:LaTeX? (4, Insightful)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062019)

Very few people can actually use LaTeX. It's an exceptionally user-hostile approach to writing text. Yes, I know some people still use vi, but that doesn't make vi a good word processor. Similarly, LaTeX has exceptional strengths for creating particular sorts of highly technical documents, but for the sorts of documents most people write it is overcomplicated and just gets in the way.

Most people don't want to learn a new language before they can write a simple document. Even if they do want to learn a new language, Markdown [wikipedia.org] is good enough for most people's uses - you can produce damn nice looking documents and, yes, books with it (my toolchain is text piped through a sed script which renders the markdown into rough HTML, through JTidy which cleans that up, through Prince [princexml.com] which translates the HTML into nicely rendered PDF, and thence to print. I could use LaTeX - I have used LaTeX - but except for very complicated technical documents it just isn't worth it.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062691)

Yes, I know some people still use vi, but that doesn't make vi a good word processor.

Get. Out. NOW.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

meloneg (101248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062883)

He's right. Vi is a sucky word-processor. It's a phenomenal text editor and I fully expect it to last forever in that role.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064085)

The only possible redeeming use of VI as a text editor is to put it into EMACS-emulation mode.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39064541)

You've got that one backwards, Mr. Stallman, the redeeming use of EMACS is its vim mode. Heh, at least for us pedestrian types with only five-fingered hands.

--
CAPTCHA: godsend - yes, indeed

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39069575)

Was wondering how long it would be b4 the 1st emacs nutter reared his ugly head. About 2 posts seems to be the going rate...

Re:LaTeX? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39066633)

Lyx makes LaTeX less hard, and you can do almost everything without actually coding LaTeX.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

dbc (135354) | more than 2 years ago | (#39067667)

Totally agree with you about LaTeX. TeX (on which LaTeX is based) was done back in the days of punch cards -- it was the only game in town for typesetting mathematics papers on a computer. TeX is a really an amazing accomplishment, when you think about it. Score another one for Knuth. But.... it is about as far from WYSIWYG as can be imagined, with all the good and bad brought on by that circumstance.

LaTeX can be learned with effort. The learning curve is nasty, but you get very nice math typesetting as a result. My daughter does on line math classes from Art of Problem Solving. http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/ [artofproblemsolving.com] The lecture classroom is a chatroom that supports LaTeX. So it's pretty wild to see a bunch of middle-school and high-school kids blasting LaTeX into the chat. LaTeX isn't dead -- but only math nerds are fluent.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#39070213)

Totally agree with you about LaTeX. TeX (on which LaTeX is based) was done back in the days of punch cards -- it was the only game in town for typesetting mathematics papers on a computer.

Point of fact. No, it wasn't. You should read Knuth's "Mathematical Typography [projecteuclid.org] " (I think you might enjoy it).

As to your second point, LaTeX markup is a great way to communicate formulas in graphics poor enviroments (email, chat, etc), which is why it's lasted so long. That too was intentional, if you read Knuth's paper above.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39071219)

Very few people can actually use LaTeX. It's an exceptionally user-hostile approach to writing text. Yes, I know some people still use vi, but that doesn't make vi a good word processor. Similarly, LaTeX has exceptional strengths for creating particular sorts of highly technical documents, but for the sorts of documents most people write it is overcomplicated and just gets in the way.

It's not that hard. LaTeX compared to say, Word (which is what many authors use) is akin to comparing Vi with Notepad. You can do the same in each, but with a little effort, you can learn and be very productive.

At its most basic level, it's really just an older form of markup language. Sure Word lacks "Export to LaTeX" (and I'm sure more than enough authors use "Export to HTML").

Now, if you really wanted to get deep down inside LaTeX to tweak things so it comes out *just* right, it can get hairy. Then again, doing the same in Word is equally hairy and there's enough misfeatures that if you do it wrong, something can get horrendously screwed up. Like bolding some text in a table can bold the entire table. Ctrl-Z usually works (and leaves the text you intended to bold bolded), but sometimes, it undoes bolding elsewhere. If it's a huge table, it's a pain.

And hell, it's easy in LaTeX to use regular straight quotes instead of having smart quotes that somehow don't pass through and you end up with oddball characters where the quote marks were.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062149)

ePub seems to work well enough for me. Supports reflowable text, images. Basically, it's just HTML with a couple extra tags added for metadata. We don't need anything more complicated than that. eBook readers work perfectly fine with it.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39066965)

Current versions of eBub doesn't do Japanese properly; you really want support for things like furigana for instance. The format really is not good enough as it is used today.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062259)

Live collaboration.

LaTeX is a formatting language not a Publishing application that manages changes, merges and wsywyg.

Re:LaTeX? (5, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062519)

The biggest difficulties in using LaTeX in publishing:

  - not WYSIWYG (and TeXmacs never got any traction and unfortunately, LyX is different enough that it requires its own acronym --- WYSIWYM)
  - requires up-front investment in creating macros for styles &c., discipline to use them as opposed to the ad hoc finger-painting which all-too-many Word and InDesign documents devolve into
  - document classes must be programmed, not designed
  - not a normal part of the design curriculum, so hiring is hard (I was the only candidate at my first job out of college who had experience in TeX)
  - export to .html has a lot of options (hevea, tth, latex2html), none of which have achieved prevalence and all of which work differently

If typography were easy, Microsoft Word wouldn't be the foetid mess it's evolved into.

Someone needs to package up one of the latex html export options so as to work w/ Sigil or one of the other ePub editors / validators.

Re:LaTeX? (1)

leandrod (17766) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062793)

Popularity. HTML is way more popular than LaTeX, even if LaTeX is superior in every way. Blame the heritage of IBM GML.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064047)

What does book publishing require that LaTeX doesn't/can't do?

Other way around. It's what LaTeX requires that book publishers can't realistically do.... Highly skilled programmers.

To get a chapter head design that would have taken about ten minutes in a program like Indesign, it took me several days of serious macro programming in LaTeX, starting with building up basic primitives like the equivalent of CSS's min-width (25 lines of macro code by itself). This complexity is primarily caused by the fundamental design of TeX as A. a multipass engine that does not update its layouts on the fly, and B. a macro-based language that expands in strange and wonderful ways....

Basically, LaTeX is acceptable for use by non-programmers only if you are satisfied with the default output with only minor changes to things like page size. As soon as you need anything slightly complex—even something as simple as producing a physical page size that differs from the logical page size—you're in a world of hurt. God help you if you ever need to use if statements or perform any actual mathematics on lengths. This will invariably require a really good programmer to spend weeks debugging your document. Most people feel that docs should be written and designed, not debugged, and therein lies the fundamental disconnect.

To describe LaTeX as an unholy hell is something of an understatement. The only thing that even approached the pain of the LaTeX PDF generation for me was the pain of all the custom HTML hacks to make Kindle behave, and even that was an order of magnitude less effort, time-wise.

Besides, using LaTeX to write HTML (which is what nearly all eBook formats are based on) is like using two toggle switches to key in Java bytecode a bit at a time. Most sane people start with something else, e.g. DocBook XML, then write trivial scripts to convert to XHTML for ePUB or to LaTeX code for PDF output (assuming they bother with PDF output). Starting with a language that is as thoroughly write-only and paper-centric as LaTeX would be utter insanity.

Re:LaTeX? (2)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064107)

LaTeX is in the same place as a Linotype language - it's a typesetting tool. Publishers don't do typesetting or printing any more, they farm all that out to contractors (yes, you read that right), so it's not really on their radar.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39076043)

"Besides, using LaTeX to write HTML (which is what nearly all eBook formats are based on) is like using two toggle switches to key in Java bytecode a bit at a time. Most sane people start with something else, e.g. DocBook XML, then write trivial scripts to convert to XHTML for ePUB or to LaTeX code for PDF output (assuming they bother with PDF output). Starting with a language that is as thoroughly write-only and paper-centric as LaTeX would be utter insanity."

Absolutely this. Why people insist on using the wrong tools for a job and trying to shoehorn them into everything is absolutely bewildering. Starting from some markup and then processing it to LaTeX or HTML makes sense - starting from *LaTeX* and then trying to process it into anything else makes much less.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

WilCompute (1155437) | more than 2 years ago | (#39066631)

There is no direct path to an ebook format. Those that are using it thus far, need to use calibre, and then fixing any mistakes, to make the files useful.

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39068117)

What does book publishing require that LaTeX doesn't/can't do?

Have you heard of this new thing called ebooks?

Re:LaTeX? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39074145)

LaTeX is useless for eBooks, unless you want to compile PDFs tailored to each device - which is a very bad idea. eBooks are almost all in some form of compiled HTML - or, as in ePub, literally just an archive of a set of (X)HTML pages. When I prepare for publishing I actually initially write in LaTeX so that I can compile up to A4 (for proofreading) and to a couple of book sizes (for publishing). I then convert the LaTeX source into HTML and wrap that HTML around my own ePub templates to produce the eBook. (If I need a Mobi file for Kindles I actually get lazy and just use Calibre for that.)

Something like this is actually quite useful for me since it allows me to export into different languages without building a set of tools to convert mark-up myself. Sure, I *could* do that but the fact that I haven't (yet) suggests that the effort in using a more basic form of markup and writing scripts to convert it was actually more than just converting LaTeX to HTML by hand.

Why collaborative software? (was Re:LaTeX?) (2)

Mokurai (458416) | more than 2 years ago | (#39083369)

LaTeX is excellent for journal and technical book publishing and some other applications, but it was not designed for collaboration over the Web, and for full multiformat output.

BookType, and its predecessor Booki, are designed for collaborative authorship around the world and for multi-format output, including HTML, PDF, print-on-demand, and others. The original development was sponsored by FLOSS Manuals, http://www.flossmanuals.net/ [flossmanuals.net] which creates manuals for Free Software applications. I have worked on manuals with them for How to Bypass Internet Censorship (now available in Arabic, Farsi, Chinese, Russian, and more), Firefox, the Linux command line, mifos microfinance software, and more, and they have dozens of other titles. FLOSS Manuals also pioneered the Book Sprint, collaborative writing of manuals by 8 or 10 people (writers, subject-matter experts, editors, artists, tech admins) gathered in a room, and several others (particularly proofreaders) over the Web within a week. We did the Censorship book from Monday morning to Friday evening in a rented house in upstate New York, ordered copies from Lulu.com, and then went out for dinner. Pics available, such as https://plus.google.com/u/0/photos/102331710307773485600/albums/5634256041091466881/5634256041835752050 [google.com]

Since then I have become Program Manager for Replacing Textbooks at Sugar Labs, the Free Software and OER partner of One Laptop Per Child. The rationale for the program is that netbook and tablet computers such as the XO-3 cost much less than printed textbooks, and have many other advantages in any school system, but especially for poor children in developing countries. http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Replacing_textbooks [sugarlabs.org] , http://booki.treehouse.su./ [booki.treehouse.su] Our mission is to end poverty and the various other ills associated with it. This includes unnecessary disease, disability and death; oppression of the poor and minorities around the world; much of government corruption; and wars of oppression or plunder. Naturally, more is required than computers to accomplish all of this, but it cannot be done without giving every child unfettered access to information and to other people around the world. See, for example, http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2011/02/15/sharing-in-gaza/ [tikkun.org]

Sugar Labs plans to host book replacements in every traditional school subject, and whatever else our students need, at every level of development in every language needed. I am currently working on an Algebra text where every math statement can be copied from the document and pasted into a software session to execute and if desired plot or graph. There are more than 100,000 other OER packages available at various other Web sites that we have listed. http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Open_Education_Resources [sugarlabs.org]

Sad part is... (1)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061685)

All Apple had to do to quash their critics is have two licenses: free and premium. Free lets you do whatever you want, provided you only sell it through Apple's store. Premium, which happens to cost $500 or something, lets you take it wherever you want AND entitles you to some sort of limited publicity if you make it on the Apple store.

Re:Sad part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061747)

... and this brilliant business sense is why you are middle class and broke

Re:Sad part is... (0)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061929)

... and this brilliant business sense is why you are middle class and broke

While Steve Jobs runs Windows in Hell.

Re:Sad part is... (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061819)

All Apple had to do to quash their critics is have two licenses: free and premium. Free lets you do whatever you want, provided you only sell it through Apple's store. Premium, which happens to cost $500 or something, lets you take it wherever you want AND entitles you to some sort of limited publicity if you make it on the Apple store.

What Apple did instead was changing a license that was open to be deliberately misunderstood to one that is much harder to misunderstand.

But tell me, if Apple creates an app specifically to get better quality ebooks than anyone else can make, why would Apple sell that app for _any_ amount of money?

Recapping recent stories (0)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061693)

P2P solution for money... not going very well as a Bitcoin exchange shuts down.
Piracy of eBooks? Still out there but publishers keep shutting those sites down... no need for SOPA, DMCA is still working as intended.
So, let's mix P2P with e-books... could you keep a NASA-like clock at headquarters so we can see your shutdown coming?

Re:Recapping recent stories (1)

pinfall (2430412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062009)

New opp for c# dev (no salary)
Create book sharing softtware, leveraged over tor, with freenet anomonymity, via browser proxy mozilla plugin, and free for all users.
Hurry, free internet at risk. Post to anonymous board. Please note upon your hiring you will be paid nothing but feds will be knocking on your door within a few hours. Good times/boat drinks/secret torture enabled.

Power to the teachers to create OERs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39061911)

Powerful for teachers to band together online and make open textbooks.

Standard Reader Format (2)

AtomicJake (795218) | more than 2 years ago | (#39061919)

While it is clearly interesting to have an open source format for editing (btw, there are already many), it is far more important to have a standardized and open reader format: The eBook that I buy should be readable on all readers and also convertible to new formats in the future (thus: open and without DRM). When we have this, the writer/editor will have his choice automatically as well.

Re:Standard Reader Format (5, Informative)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062123)

if only there was some kind of electronic publication standard format [wikipedia.org] that everyone could use. Or some kind of conversion software [wikipedia.org] to get books into this format.

sure, some companies will try to fracture the market, but that doesn't mean it isn't there.

Re:Standard Reader Format (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062383)

Yup, epub and Calibre fit the bill perfectly. Almost all modern e-readers support epub format books, and it is a sane, well-designed, simple format. Calibre is a fantastic free and open-source book librarian that can convert almost anything to epub (and epub to other formats).

Maybe someone can chime in with how well epub handles mathematical notation and other advanced typesetting problems. At worst, you can embed images.

Alpha channels in images? (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062731)

At worst, you can embed images.

Given that the user can change backdrop and/or font colors and intensities on any decent reader, I've been wondering: Does image embedding in the standard support alpha, such as PNG?

Because if you make a formula, for instance, or a table, on a fixed white backdrop, there's only one setting where that'll look good: Where the user has the colors matching those used in the image. But if the formula/table is rendered in [color] over alpha, that will work for a lot of cases (although it still fails with [color] backdrops and [other color] text... which is the bottom line use case for "you need typesetting."

When the image is traditional linear content, such as a portrait or a woodland scene, alpha at the edges is sufficient no matter what the user chooses for backdrop, although the quality is still higher if the edge blend color matches the backdrop, or at least its brightness.

Re:Standard Reader Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39075025)

ePub doesn't handle mathematical notation at all, it's just a subset of XHTML and webpages aren't exactly noted for being brilliant at handling maths. You'd have to convert to figures and embed them, which has all its own drawbacks.

And while I use Calibre a lot it's very far from perfect indeed. If you ever convert anything into ePub using Calibre and then look at the source it's extremely ugly. Calibre generates about twenty .calibreN styles in the CSS declaration, all of which are almost, but not quite, identical. Some are necessary -- such as not indenting the first paragraph of a chapter and setting the font for the firstl etter -- but others are totally useless. Calibre is also a very big fan of shit like this in the HTML code:

.....

or, even worse,

...

Call me old-fashioned, but I'm absolutely fucked if I intend to release to the paying public an eBook as horrifically formatted as that. No matter how it looks onscreen, the shit underlying it will be noticed by someone and I'll look grossly unprofessional.

Re:Standard Reader Format (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39075503)

god i'm an idiot.

that was

[p class="calibre7"][span class="calibre7 calibre16"]....[/span][/p]

or, even worse,

[p class="calibre7 calibre16"][span]...[/span][/p]

It's called ePub (4, Informative)

Harshmage (1925730) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062159)

Open source formatting, readable by the major tablet/ebook devices, and has an astounding support for creating and publishing, plus has functions for DRM (though I don't like it, publishers do). See Sigil (http://code.google.com/p/sigil/) for one of the easier writing tools.

Apple's not bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062515)

... it's just misunderstood.

"Apple's protestation that the iBooks Author EULA was misinterpreted,"

I know Apple is a struggling small business and all, but don't you think they could afford to hire some lawyers to make a clear license?

Wait? They're actually a huge MNC with a team of highly paid lawyers?
I must conclude that they made exactly the license they intended to make; no misinterpretations about it.

Actions speak louder than words (3, Funny)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062609)

Despite Apple's protestation that the iBooks Author EULA was misinterpreted

Apparently the summary's author hadn't heard that Apple responded to the complaints by changing the license [macrumors.com] so that it was clear they were not making the claims they had been accused of making. They didn't just "protest" and claim people misinterpreted the license. They corrected the problem. Clearly this was a case of Apple...

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE!
1) If you think Apple is evil, skip to paragraph A
2) If you think Apple is good, skip to paragraph B

PARAGRAPH A
Clearly this was a case of Apple engaging in some slick PR after getting caught red-handed. It's our job to stay vigilant, and open formats are the way to go since we can't trust Apple or their kind.

PARAGRAPH B
Clearly this was a case of Apple making an honest mistake or having an overzealous lawyer adding some boilerplate language that could be taken other than how it was intended. They've shown a willingness to correct these sorts of mistakes in the past, and we can trust them to do so again in the future.

Re:Actions speak louder than words (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39064531)

I choose 3

Ah crap! I got eaten by a grue!

A usability nightmare (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062737)

Of course this was not designed with any sort of usability in mind. The newsfeed, homepage, etc. includes dozens of useless entries for test and empty books etc. What were they thinking? It's just noise, and it's horrible.

If you want such a service to be usable, you need to present what people want, not everything. A random joe user that will visit such a site is most likely looking for books to read, not placeholders, and probably not work-in-progress that's not even properly started yet. You need some filters to choose between mostly-complete works (the default), work well underway, and everything else. The "everything else" category would be useful only if you're looking for a new project to jump into at an early stage, it's a waste of time and bandwidth otherwise.

There also should be a tagging system (a-la version control) -- if there is one, forgive me but I didn't find it. If you have a book you work on, you'd probably like to tag a particular revision as being "draft released for comment round 1", for example. Such tags would need to have a bunch of attributes, for example whether it's a draft, editing/corrector's version, a general release, or none of it (development/WIP tag).

Those are the things just off the top of my head. The idea behind the site is noble, the implementation as-is is akin to a bunch of middle-graders doing computer graphics without ever having heard of applied linear algebra. They don't know what the heck they are doing, pretty much -- they may be good coders, but they have never ever obviously thought of how will one use the damn thing. I'm not impressed.

Re:A usability nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062947)

I think you lost the idea a little....its free software right? make it better!
https://github.com/sourcefabric/Booktype

(as i see it there is a tagging system plus versioning)

Re:A usability nightmare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39068209)

I don't think it intends to be an ebook store. It's a "publishing" webapp. And by "publishing" they mean creating ebook files, not distributing them.

I have created books with Booki (4, Interesting)

nicestepauthor (307146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39062761)

Booki was what there was before Booktype, and FLOSS Manuals used other software before Booki which I also used. The great thing about all this software is that many people can collaborate on a book online, then distribute in in multiple formats:

1). As a website
2). As a PDF that can be published as a print-on-demand book by Lulu or Create Space.
3). As an EPUB (which you can run Kindlegen on to create a MOBI for the Kindkle).
4). As a "newspaper".

Some examples of books I have created:

websites

http://en.flossmanuals.net/make-your-own-sugar-activities/ [flossmanuals.net]

http://en.flossmanuals.net/como-hacer-una-actividad-sugar/ [flossmanuals.net]

http://en.flossmanuals.net/e-book-enlightenment/ [flossmanuals.net]

epub, mobi, and pdf

http://www.archive.org/details/MakeYourOwnSugarActivities [archive.org]

http://www.archive.org/details/ComoHacerUnaActividadSugar [archive.org]

http://www.archive.org/details/EBookEnlightenment [archive.org]

On the Kindle Store

http://www.amazon.com/Make-Your-Sugar-Activities-ebook/dp/B0050VAHKW/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329414720&sr=1-2 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Hacer-Actividad-Sugar-Spanish-ebook/dp/B0058DBRVA/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/E-Book-Enlightenment-ebook/dp/B005BYST5I/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2 [amazon.com]

http://www.amazon.com/Life-Times-Bhakta-Jim-ebook/dp/B00730HE54/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1329414780&sr=1-1 [amazon.com]

On Lulu

http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/make-your-own-sugar-activities/12995552?productTrackingContext=search_results/search_shelf/center/1 [lulu.com]

And soon, The Life And Times Of Bhakta Jim on Create Space.

The Spanish book was translated from "Make Your Own Sugar Activities!" by a team of volunteers, mostly in South America, who likely had never met in person.

Don't underestimate what this software can do! It isn't perfect, but in time it will change how we author and publish books.

Re:I have created books with Booki (1)

MrManny (1026106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39065173)

Hi there,

sorry to bother you, but I've tried to find this Booki you mentioned. Either my google-fu has failed me, or my computer is playing Jedi mind tricks on me. :-( Can you point me at Booki's site please?

Thanks in advance,
M.

Re:I have created books with Booki (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39065427)

Hi there,

sorry to bother you, but I've tried to find this Booki you mentioned. Either my google-fu has failed me, or my computer is playing Jedi mind tricks on me. :-( Can you point me at Booki's site please?

Thanks in advance,
M.

http://www.booki.cc/

Master format for e-books? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39062815)

What are the master formats for e-books? IOW, a format suited for editing, version control and other activities related to creating an e-book? A format which can be later converted into MOBI/ePub/PDF/RTF/etc.

DocBook Lite? FB2?

Is the Booktype the thing? They talk about "platform" what is little bit confusing.

claiming "multiplatform" but no installers (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063249)

As they say in The Courts
OBJECTION ASSUMES FACTS NOT IN EVIDENCE

unless the installers are very hidden (which they may be) have they proven that this program?? runs on more than one platform??

if they have hidden the installers links somewhere could somebody please post the links??

Re:claiming "multiplatform" but no installers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39063589)

http://www.sourcefabric.org/en/booktype/
https://github.com/sourcefabric/Booktype
https://github.com/sourcefabric/Booktype/zipball/master

how did u NOT see those?

Distribution, not publishing or printing (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 2 years ago | (#39063397)

I recall when MacWrite, and later MS Office for Windows came out, and all writing seemed to stop. People were playing with fonts, colors, kerning. While they made pretty pages, there was often no intellegible language on the page. The redeeming factor was that the Mac allowed a person with a few thousand dollars to publish quite professional looking product, instead of the tens of thousands previously required.

To write a book you need a text editor. To publish a book you need a page layout program like LaTex. It will print in PDF which most anyone can read or print. You can even sell them. if you want something more than a book, then something more than page layout program is required.

What we are mostly talking about now is how to publish more than a book and how to distribute that more than a book. Amazon already has a method to publish and distribute a book. What Apple is providing is an eBook that, if done correctly, will not translate well to a simple printed book. If we are talking textbooks, for instance, the simple printed book is no longer good enough. We have textbooks, we even have very good free textbooks in many subjects. What we need are more than books so the students can get the words, lectures, and simulations outside of class, and use class time for the modeling of the social interactions that are necessary for learning. Successful students instinctively forms groups, not so successful students thinks that such groups are only for partying or sports.

So I don't see how this is useful. LaTeX is open source and free and a very mature and reliable product. I do not see Booktype opening up any new distribution channels. I am only saying this because the summary started off by citing Apple. What Apple has done is provide a format that will let a writing create an e-book, not simply a book that read on a screen instead of paper, and a method of distribution. As I understand it, the EULA really is not going to effect a writer, since any real writer is going to lay down the text and generate the graphics outside of the publishing application. The EULA only says that the iBook is required to be distributed by Apple. This means that write can create a rich content e-book which must be distributed by Apple, but can also create a traditional book that can be distributed any way. This traditional book could be created by Booktype or Latex or anything else.

Going beyond the book is something that very few seem to want to do. The publishers certainly don't want to make their printing presses and large salary redundant over night. One company that did try this, push pop press, is not part of facebook and is no longer really in the book biz. Apple, as it did with music, sees profit in the disruption of books, and has the funds to not be concerned with the people they are going to piss off.

How about some good online sales tools for ebooks? (1)

wilig (2550118) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064439)

I've seen a lot of good conversion software, but not a lot of really great methods for authors to do the actual selling on their own. Especially in regards to free or low-cost open-source methods. I'd love to see a complete solution that offers the chance to collaborate and construct an ebook over the web entirely from scratch, then approve and publish it to various formats on your own website, and offers many methods to tailor the method of sale -- specifically pay-what-you-want options and integration with different payment processors. I like the idea of authors being in control of every step, beholden to as few middlemen as possible.

iBooks Author & Beyond (1)

QuatermassX (808146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39064473)

I spent a weekend with Apple's iBooks Author making a book from a short story and my photography. The process was fairly straightforward, but the lack of documentation around the various widgets made the whole experience more trial and error than anything else. I also don't have an iPad so it was difficult to properly preview the book.

What we - e.g., people who wish to create books and distribute far and wide to many devices - lack is a killer tool that both helps us along with amazing templates, but also allows us to customise and distribute the books however we wish.

In the past, one would have hoped that Adobe or perhaps even Quark would provide the tool, but now? Apple's offering is tied to their channel. Fair enough - photography looks amazing on the iPad. But who is going to make a tool that exports to ePub, Mobi AND iBooks and price it sensibly? Maybe we just need to extend the utility of existing CMS's? It's just another three export options, after all ...

By the by, here's the book if you fancy having a look at what's possible with iBooks Author: Where Here and Now Cease To Matter [flaneurphoto.com]

No serif fonts (1)

codegen (103601) | more than 2 years ago | (#39075807)

Tried it out, and the only problem is that there are no serif fonts for the pdf versions. While I can understand sans-serif for screen use, paper really needs a serif font.

Re:No serif fonts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39081561)

you can use any fonts you like thorugh @font-face or you cna install your own and load other fonts into the drop down menus

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