Authonomy turns on the smarts

Eoin Purcell

Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes
Moxyland, by Lauren Beukes

I’ve dissed Authonomy a little in the past, but this really is a clever idea:

We’re giving you the chance to have your short story published in Lauren (Beukes)‘s next book, Zoo City. In order to enter, all you need to do is write a short story (up to 3000 words) based in the Moxyland universe, using characters, themes and settings from the book to create your own work.

They have more on their blog. Lauren is the author of the Angry Robot published novel, Moxyland. But the smarts start on Authonomy otslef, firstly it has an extensive book page for Moxyland and a faily decent author page for Lauren (though this could easily have had a video and some more features, given the competition). And then they use the power of HarperCollins’ Browse Inside toolkit to display the entire text. That is brave.

I’d be hard pressed to find an issue with this project (other than the minor one I’ve already mentioned). It’s not just that Harper are embracing Fan Fiction and encouraging it even, but they have added real value to Authonomy by doing this. They have used clever cross platform tools to bring a really worthwhile competition to the Authionomy community and have, I think, created one of the most compelling and engaging promotions so far this year. All told, praise if deserved.

I’m enjoying my last day of being 29, successfully made a very big Beef Bourguignon!

Our Grannies’ Recipes Launches

Eoin Purcell

Something web-to-print sir?
About eight weeks ago we had a brain wave in work. Why not publish a book of favourite traditional Irish recipes, the recipes that our grandmothers, mothers, fathers and grandfathers cooked for us when we were young (or even when we were older and just home for some spoiling).

The issue then became, how will we collect all those recipes? And with a bit of help from the rest of the team at Mercier I realised, you use the internet. Thus was born: which has gone live today with two new posts.

Rapid launch
From concept to site has taken about eight weeks. After thinking the process through i thought it best to use freely available templates and software and to customise a theme rather than design a whole new one (if only because I have not yet even close to the level of confidence I’d need to do that). As this is the first project by Mercier on its own on the web, it has been a fairly steep learning curve. It has been enormous fun and I think it will continue to be as well.

There is more to come
Mercier is not the first to use web to print (not even in Ireland) and I’m sure others are doing cooler, better things than we are. On the other hand, this is exactly the type of project that people can get involved and excited about.

It is also exactly the type of project that publishers (even the least web savvy) can get involved in. It takes a little learning and maybe a little stress but it is time hungry rather than capital hungry and the support of the web community can be rewarding and exciting.

Here’s to hoping it comes together

PS Feel free to submit a recipe here

Google Books launches MyLibrary, Popular Passages and Book Clipping services

Eoin Purcell

Biggest first I think
Bethany Poole, Product Marketing Manager at Google Book Search just posted this:

Fortunately for people like me, our engineers have a fix. With the launch of the My Library feature in Book Search, I can create my own customized library online, and quickly search my collection to figure out which book I’m looking for. Once it’s created, I can share my library with my friends and see what’s in their collections.

It’s easy to build a collection: simply follow these steps to add books to your library. Then you can organize your collection by adding your own labels, ratings, and book reviews.

I have uploaded a few ISBNs and tried out the MyLibrary service. You can see the results here.

Initial thoughts
It seems like a fairly nice little service, intuitive and fast too. It lacks the social features of LibraryThing and the resources of Amazon search too. The social features will no doubt come soon. I think if I was LibraryThing I’d be a little worried by this development. I can see too how this little service will facilitate a bigger product launch, the rumoured Full Book View that was mentioned today in the NYT.

As for the Popular Passages & BooK Clipping Launches
Popular Passages seems a sweet little add on. I wonder how happy with it publishers will be. It strikes me too that only a service like Google that has the whole book digitised will be able to do something like that. LibraryThing won’t for instance be able to provide a service like it. Nor for that matter will they be able to let you do this:

You can now highlight a section of text in any public domain book in Book Search, create a clip from it, and share it with the world. You can post your favorite clips to your blog along with a personal annotation, collect them in a Google Notebook, or share them with friends anywhere you decide to embed the link. Your clip looks exactly as it appears in the book, or if you prefer plain text, we have that too.

Of course you can do it with Exact Editions but not for magazines and books they don’t host on their system. And it is pretty cool (See below, a better time for the book trade methinks). All in all, Google have really taken a step up in their battle to dominate books online. If this is the first step in putting together an arsenal of tools it is a convincing one. What is more they are so clearly ahead of publishers it is almost embarrassing.

Impressed and slightly cowed

Every self-published authors dream

Eoin Purcell

Preempting self published books
This kind of event is rare so i do not think Publishers Weekly will mind me block quoting the article:

Sourcebooks Preempts Self-Pubbed Kids Book
by Lynn Andriani
Sourcebooks has just acquired a children’s hardcover title that has sold 179,000 copies since the authors self-published it in 2001. I Love You More, a rhyming picture book by Laura Duksta and Karen Keesler, will be on the fall 2007 list of Sourcebooks’ new children’s imprint, Jabberwocky, priced at $16.99.

Now when you look that over, it translates into 30,000 units a year. Why on earth was it not picked up before this? Still well done to the authors. A fine show!

April is a sunny month sometimes

Scribd looks cool

Eoin Purcell

Multi-authored Text
Experiments with wiki-text, networked books and multi-authored texts have been going well. Penguin have had the most high profile effort with their Million Penguins wikinovel. Last week I highlighted Ficlets which takes the idea of multi-authored texts to a news slick level allowing prequels and sequels to already written shorts [Speaking of which this one on Caesar caught my eye]

The future is Scribd
Techcrunch carried an interesting piece today discussing the early success of one of the more interesting new arrivals to this space Scribd. You can upload, search for and read documents on Scribd and it also allows for an embed function but I cannot seem to make that work on What it lacks is online editing of documents. I can see how this seems a retrograde step in some regards but will certainly encourage people to post their content. Techcrunch also has some interesting points re copyright. It is a fascinating site with very nice features. One I found on DIY Book Binding is worth a look as is so much more.

Enjoying the break still