blooks

Planning for 2008

Eoin Purcell

Overambitious

So I foolishly announced that I would lay out a plan for blogging in 2008 in response to Bloglily’s tag. Thinking it over it sure offers a challenge. Such a big challenge and the world being so terribly random and unpredictable* that I think I made a foolish promise. So I need to do something else. If I cannot predict the blogging year, I can at least offer some thoughts on what I see playing a role in my year ahead and about which I will probably be writing a great deal.

1) Digital projects & technology

- In the next few weeks Mercier Press will be launching one of its first major digital efforts. I’m not going to talk too much about it right now but the basic idea will be to capture digital content online and take that into print. It is an experiment for us and I can see the short term element proving to be a successful precursor to a much longer term goal for us.

- What is more, 2008 sees the start of something very exciting for Mercier. We will be launching our first blog to book product. The wonderful Murphy’s brothers from Murphy’s Ice Cream will launch a book that build on their blog Ice Cream Ireland and offers all Irish ice cream lovers what is going to be a very beautiful book. There will be more of these types of books in the future (not just from Mercier) as blogging makes real talent more visible and findable on the web.**

- These are not the only reasons I think this area will be a huge part of my year in 2008. If you have been following the links both on the blog and on my linkblog at Google Reader ***, you will have seen that these issues are looming large in my thoughts. If you fail to be inspired by these I suggest you check out a few of Snowbooks videos on using Onix data to make life easy. that ought to bring the point home forcefully.

- Mercier have just started the process of moving to an integrated system (Using Anko’s Publishing Manager). it will be tricky as so much of our legacy information is in people’s head and not digital systems, but once we have finished the process we will be in a great place to make much better use of all our content.

- And then there is this, e4Books, which will probably be honoured more in the missing of the target than in the achieving it.

2) Books: reading & commissioning

- Ha, I’ll bet you saw that one coming! The To Be read pile is now insane. Though again I’m feeling a little better about that (thanks NTT). I do try. I read a good few books this year but not nearly as many as I had hoped (closer to 60 than the 100 I had planned). Spending too much time online and reading for work perhaps.

- Of course the other aspect of books will be the process of publishing and building the list here at Mercier. 2008 is now more or less to bed and it is time to get cracking on commissioning 2009. It is nice to be in a more relaxed place with this commissioning but I am conscious still that the competition is hotting up in Ireland with the arrival of an Irish based Transworld office. This side will definitely make for an exciting year.

- And while we are on the subject of books, I need to mention that Litlove has just published one, The Best of Tales From The Reading Room (you can buy it here). A collection of her very, very fine essays from her excellent blog: Tales From The Reading Room.

3) Events & Trends: the unpredictable

- Who knows what will happen to prompt a blog post. Sometimes I have been inconsistent in covering topics here and I have no doubt that will continue. One area I know I have yet to really write much on is the effect that the iPhone is having on the world of mobile devices and online reading. Apple’s OS X has taken a lump of market share in this space very rapidly implying firstly that iPhone users browse the web more than the users of other smart phone/mobile computers and also that consumers are not put off by mobile internet they just want it to be user friendly.

- Here is a list of words that I suspect (but with no real level of confidence) that we will see much more about this year: Onix, Community, Digital Publishing, Online Reading, Ebooks, widgets, content, micro-chunking, CS 3, XML. Of them, for publishers I think XML is going to be the big one! But Community will be too. Just check out Authonomy and see what I mean.

So there you go BL. I hope that my lack of planning is up to scratch.
Pleased with the outcome
Eoin

* And my reading of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan is sure not helping me remain confident of my ability to predicate anything reliably, though it is making me much more comfortable with that. More of that soon when I finish the book and process my thoughts.

** Hint! Hint! Authors, start blogging if you don’t already!

*** Who also have a shared items page which I find a it confusing.

Cory Doctrow

Eoin Purcell

The New Quote
Above comes from this interview with Cory Doctrow on Kottke.org (speaking with Joel Turnipseed):

What Andrew Keen has got his pants in such a ferocious knot about is that we are losing our “culture.” Basically, if you unpack his arguments they come down to this: He thinks The New York Times did a pretty good job of figuring out what was good and he doesn’t like the idea that they’re not the only way of doing it and that it’s getting harder to figure out who to listen to and media literacy is getting harder and that means bad stuff is going to become important and that wouldn’t have happened if only the wise, bearded, white-robed figures at The New York Times had been allowed to continue to dominate our culture. That’s really where he’s coming from at the end of the day.

Quality,
Eoin

Hat Tip Rob @ Snowbooks

Downright impressed with this: Feedbooks

Eoin Purcell

I was lead to this video & blog by the continuing debate I mentioned previously and which Mark Thwaite of the Book Depository (I love shopping there and intend to shop there more) continues on The Booksellers new blog section.

Now the system strikes me as like xFruits, a similar service that has launched to weak enough take off (perhaps it was a little ahead of its time/has a difficult time getting readership and thus publishers/has no revenue model attached). The site lists only 13620 xfruiters!

It may be an old idea executed well but it is very cool even so!

Which reminds me. You can find my own blog in a nice little PDF here.

Remembering the coolness of reading one’s own words on a nicely formatted pdf!
Eoin

Keith Richards’s memoir, 7 million dollars and something much more important

Eoin Purcell

You can generally trust O’Reilly to get their priority right
And so it was today. When all anyone else seemed to want to talk about was this, they were considering the merits of CommentPress 1.0 [a new tool from The Institute for the Future of the Book] as:

a potentially significant evolution in blogging architecture

*For a better idea of what exactly CommentPress is read this little piece from the site:

CommentPress is an open source theme for the WordPress blogging engine that allows readers to comment paragraph by paragraph in the margins of a text. Annotate, gloss, workshop, debate: with CommentPress you can do all of these things on a finer-grained level, turning a document into a conversation. It can be applied to a fixed document (paper/essay/book etc.) or to a running blog.

Why do publishers care?
Good question. I suggest we care for the same reason we care about this two pieces of news: A clipping service from Exact Editions and a cheap e-reader.

We should care about the clipping service because someone is building tools to make our online content more useful and easier to utilise. CommentPress is another tool in a growing ecoshpere of tools and services that are making novel and new uses of content more likely. That makes our content more valuable. Seems pretty important to me.

And we should care about e-readers because we need a solid platform for that digital content to reside on. Sure we will get along fine as web-pages that reflow* according to the screen but people don’t always want to be tied to their laptop or PC when reading and that is where the e-reader will come in (if we are lucky).

So ignore the big money, big name news today and dig a little deeper. There is a lot to read about what really matters for this industry.
Eoin

For more on this Booktwo points in a nice direction

Links of Interest (At Least to Me) 14/07/2007

Eoin Purcell

The unstoppable power of Richard and Judy as seen and told by the The Friday Project people.
Here & Here

Frankly one of the finest and clear sighted (not to mention fantastically brief) discussion of the current state of writing:

With the rise of the web, writing has met its photography. By that I mean, writing has encountered a situation similar to what happened to painting upon the invention of photography, a technology so much better at doing what the art form had been trying to do, that in order to survive, the field had to alter its course radically. If photography was striving for sharp focus, painting was forced to go soft, hence Impressionism. Faced with an unprecedented amount of digital available text, writing needs to redefine itself in order to adapt to the new environment of textual abundance.

[Hat Tip to if:book]
Here

Further to that piece I thought these ones from Tim O’Reilly were definitely worth reading too.
Here & Here

The End of Dewey in some libraries
Here (NYT read it before it goes behind the wall!)

Wow I was tired when I posted this
Eoin