Books in Browsers

The 2012 Books in Browsers was held at the Internet Archive and provided my first chance to explore the church purchased to house the Archive. The talks were held upstairs in the “Great Room,” previously the church’s sanctuary. This meant hours of sitting on hard wooden pews while filling our brains with the latest developments on digital books.
Among the pews in the back loom stacks of sleek black servers humming with activity, and the daily hymn notation has the numbers for pi (314 stacked upon 159 upon 265) and the Golden Ratio. A pendulum attached to the high ceiling is used to alert of any seismic activity. The pews on the rightmost and leftmost sides are filled with terracotta archivists, tiny reproductions of volunteers. Throughout the conference, we were entertained during breaks by a bluegrass band named The Packet Sniffers.
Personal favorites:
* Mary Lou Jepsen (Pixel Qi) was fascinating. She started One Laptop per Child and has been passionately working with screen technology to drive better readability and less power consumption. 100% of screen manufacturers are losing money. There’s a lack of innovation in screen technology b/c consolidated market dominated by Samsung, Foxconn. She also hipped us to this must-read slideshare on what’s wrong with online reading.
* Liza Daly & Keith Fahlgren (Safari Books Online) demoed a cool technology that used voice recognition of Liza’s talk to generate Google Docs that audience members could add their commentary to (and consolidated our twitter feed using timestamps).
* Maureen & Blaine (Poeti.ca) unveiled an AWESOME online editing tool. Tracked changes in a Word document will be dead forever with this innovation.
* Adam Witwer (O’Reilly Media) suggesting that authors can use GitHub to build a community around a book, to collaborate and manage content.
* Craig Mod on subcompact publishing, touting the wild success of “The Magazine” that was profitable two hours after launching.
* Hugh McGuire (Pressbooks) pressing his case for webbooks in addition to ebooks and pbooks. Google Analytics available for webbooks, can more easily share the content.
* Ricky Wong (MobNotate) with a killer tool for cross-ebook linking to make souped up footnotes.
* Michael Tamblyn (Kobo Books) sharing the average price of self published books (by language: English $3.40, French $2.51, Spanish $1.70, Dutch $6.68, German $3.47). Kobo has found the sweet spot at $4.99
* Ben Moskowitz (Mozilla) demonstrating Mozilla Popcorn – supplementing video & audio with web content.
* Ron Martinez (Aerbook) giving us a number to send a text to in order to receive a chapter of the book. (To give it a try: text ‘bib’ to 415.800.3815)
* Part of the fun was following the #bib12 hashtag, which is where I discovered this terrific article about the book discovery problem.