[IAEP] Please review E-Book Enlightenment

James Simmons nicestep at gmail.com
Sat Jul 2 11:43:57 EDT 2011


Thanks for your kind review.  One thing you suggested was comparing Google
Docs and Booki as collaboration software.  I think Google Docs is pretty
good for collaboration, probably as good as Booki.  Where Booki is better
than Google Docs is when it comes to *publishing* the work.  Booki has a
tool called OBJAVI that produces output in a variety of pages sizes,
including those used by Lulu.com for print on demand.  This makes it easier
to format a book for printing.  It also produces Web Format PDF (with a
table of contents pane) and EPUBs, and finally you can get a static website
out of it.  That's the real genius of it.  So while Google Docs will help
you collaborate on a manuscript, Booki goes that extra mile and helps you
get it published at the push of a button.  Think of all the work you'd go
through in turning your Google Docs MS into a website, an EPUB, or a PDF
ready for Lulu and imagine that your methodology required you to do that
every week or so.

I wrote a book on my personal Booki and wanted to have some people review
it.  I distributed PDFs.  One reviewer said she had trouble reading a book
on the computer screen but she did have a Kindle.  I emailed her a Kindle
version a few minutes later.

Booki is still rough around the edges, but I would not hesitate to recommend

James Simmons

On Sat, Jul 2, 2011 at 7:41 AM, Maria Droujkova <droujkova at gmail.com> wrote:

> James,
> Thank you very much for your work. It is very useful for my current
> projects. I put my notes on my blog:
> http://www.naturalmath.com/blog/ebook_enlightenment/
> Here is what I wrote.
> Book review: “E-Book Enlightenment” by James Simmons
> http://en.flossmanuals.net/e-book-enlightenment/
> James Simmons set out to write about One Laptop Per Child e-books, but
> decided to go more general. I appreciate the clear and concise categories of
> information by chapters and within the chapters – it’s a big service to the
> reader, and it takes a lot of thought and work for the writer. Moreover,
> each piece of data tells a story with a strong exegesis in the area of open
> and free – meaning, it’s interesting to read, at least for someone who
> cares. I thought I would skip the first chapters, on finding e-books, but I
> learned much I did not know – for example, the story of this touching
> projects:
> *The Rural Design Collective (@rdcHQ <http://twitter.com/rdcHQ>)* is a
> not-for-profit professional mentoring organization which furthers the
> education and experience of residents of rural Southern Coastal Oregon who
> are interested in working with web and/or media technology by involving them
> in real development projects. They devote a portion of their program to
> continued exploration of technology surrounding digital books. In 2009, they
> built an interface for approximately 2000 digital books using a subset from
> the *Internet Archive Children’s Library*.
> It was easy for me to skim the chapter comparing different formats, because
> of the clear structure, but the tone is human and personal (“Advantages: I
> can’t think of any.” on RTF).
> The Sugar activities and architecture for discovering and sharing books
> looks like something all children’s environments should be adopting (I am
> looking at you, Club Penguin). My daughter is probably older than the
> intended audience – she uses Shellfari for the purpose.  I don’t know if
> there are tools like this beyond Sugar, for young kids. With one click, you
> can share books with a person or your neighborhood. And, it has text to
> speech. Remember the lovely Living Books from the 90s, with text-to-speech
> (and animations) done via recordings, rather than generated? That was hugely
> useful for literacy, but not sustainable, and only a few were made.
> James describes wiki-software for making books, called booki<http://www.booki.cc/>.
> I am looking at it for next book projects of Math Future (we are using
> Google Docs at the moment). I think I will wait for versions beyond alpha;
> meanwhile, James’ adventures with collaborating are illuminating, and echo
> my experiences:
> Starting a book from nothing is intimidating.  However, once the book
> reaches a critical mass and there is no doubt that there *will* be a
> finished book you’ll find that getting help and feedback is easier, almost
> inevitable …If we didn’t start with the awful machine translated version we
> would never have gotten the good one.
>  The first thing is that there are good reasons to collaborate and not so
> good.  A good one is that your collaborator can bring expertise to the book
> that you don’t have.  A bad one is that you think there will be less work
> for you if you have a collaborator.  There are many human activities where
> “Many hands make light labor”.  Writing a book isn’t one of them.
> Mokurai’s Replacing Textbook project involves several Math Future people
> such Don “The Mathman” Cohen, and uses booki<http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/Replacing_Textbooks>,
> which James mentions. My materials about fractions may go there, as well. An
> obligatory Russian proverb: “The world isn’t small, but the stratum is
> thin.” I would appreciate if the book compared booki with Google Docs,
> rather than Microsoft Word (which isn’t a wiki technology).
> For scanning books, I may consider building a *Simmons Home Book Scanner
> Mark I*. It looks quite easy and the name is fun to say. However, my new
> flatbed scanner is fast enough, and I have kid interns who think it’s fun to
> scan – at least a few pages at a time. James recommend the batch image
> editor Image Magic <http://www.imagemagick.org/script/index.php>, which
> can apply the same operation to multiple images. This will save me a lot of
> time when I next scan a book! And for Windows, the mass renamer<http://www.albert.nu/programs/renamer/main.htm>for files will come in handy. And looks like Scan
> Tailor <http://scantailor.sourceforge.net/> software is even more
> powerful, so I will give it a try as well.
> Sigil <http://code.google.com/p/sigil/> is the free EPUB editor James
> recommends. And calibre <http://calibre-ebook.com/> is the software for
> managing and distributing collections of e-books.
> Overall, the Publishing section of “E-Book Enlightenment” deals with the
> technical side of making the book available, and not with the social aspects
> of “making the book public” (Doctorow). I would like to see a chapter on how
> to connect creators with readers, post-production.
> I will go back to “E-Book Enlightenment” for step-by-step guides to
> software and hardware for making books. Screenshots and photos of key steps
> make guides quick and easy to use. Thank you, James!
> Cheers,
> Maria Droujkova
> 919-388-1721
> Make math your own, to make your own math.
> On Fri, Jul 1, 2011 at 11:05 AM, James Simmons <nicestep at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I think I have the book "E-Book Enlightenment" in a pretty good place
>> to think about publishing it on the Internet Archive and on the Kindle
>> Store.
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