O’Reilly Media’s Programming Scala won’t hit bookstore shelves for a long time. But the entire working manuscript has been posted to their site! Each and every paragraph, sidenote, chart and graph has a comment box underneath it. They are hoping that the community will contribute knowledgeble bits of information and ideas, which the author will vet and toss or incorporate. The idea is that this crowdsourcing filtered through their expert author will produce a more auhtoritative work.
Not too mention the marketing side of things. I guess one side could say “you’ll sell fewer books, because all of your hardcore readers have been reading while it’s been written”. Which might hold true for a few folks. But can you imagine the buzz this would build within the programming community? Or how much of a boost the book might get from folks talking about/buying a book that they were involved in producing? The system has a sign-in for commenters so that they can be credited in the final book, if their contribution is used. O’Reilly also provides RSS feeds for the various sections so that a commenter can keep up with that specific section of the text.
Obviously, this idea wouldn’t work for every type of book and the progamming community is a good place to start. It’s not the first book to be published from crwodsourced information, but it’s the first time, I’m aware of, a major publisher has added a crowdsourced component to the traditional publishing workflow. Which means that it gets checked and balanced by author and editor, which may be enough to sway a few naysayers.
I wonder what Andrew Keen would think of this community/professional mashup? Ha!
Little, Brown and Company have a new logo. They are ditching the 70-year-old etching of some Boston-based revolutionary war era memorial called the Bullfinch Monument, for an updated type-only design. Here’s a link to the short New York Observer article, which is worth the read because they take a couple of paragraphs to talk with the font designer who behind the new “L” and “B” letterforms.
If you dig vintage colophons and publisher marks, visit this site (via Penguin blog). Most seem to be scanned from pulp serial paperbacks and it’s pretty fun to look through. I do hope they’ll keep updating it.
In this day of self-publishing services partnering with, ebook vendors and vending machines that print books, it is not hard to envision a day when machines would control it all. But then you run across a site like Lulu.com’s new service and realize that day is a long long way off.
They have a new Title Scorer where wannabe best-selling authors can thow their titles up and “to the scientific test and find out whether it has what it takes for bestseller success.”
I thought it a cool idea. Then I typed in “Of Mice and Men”, which in it’s infinite wisdom cranked out the following result:
Oh well. Humans (1) Machines (0)
So tonight, I raise my glass to all you editors, AQ folks and authors who actually think about these things while discerning what will resonate with your readers.
Chris Anderson says his new book Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business will be unleashed – free- upon the world on July 6th. As popular as his first book The Long Tail was, I’m sure I’m not the only anxious to read his latest thoughts.
In the interview he had with Guy Kawaski, Anderson does say that he expects the free version of his book to spur print sales. Something many in the industry are watching, I know. How does a publisher make money at giving their products away for free? While I’m sure the book will contain nothing as useful or solid as the formula filled The Art and Science of Book Publishing, Anderson says
“If you can convert 5 percent of users to paid, you can cover your costs. Anything above that, and it becomes extremely popular.”
I haven’t started crunching the numbers yet, but that seems to assume a very slim overhead. But it gives us a starting point. Something for the industry to aim for or pass. We’ll see. Five percent it is.
One of these days I am going to have to make it to SXSW…. but until then, thank the internet gods for blogs and twitter.