2019/New Haven/books

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Books was a session at IndieWebCamp New Haven 2019.

Notes archived from: https://etherpad.indieweb.org/books

IndieWebCamp New Haven 2019
Session: Books
When: 2019-03-30 13:15


Brainstorming session to get an overview of some of the process, workflow, and current tools

A few people have books of either their own or those of others available online. Some may even be building OER (open educational resource) systems for distributing books related to teaching. What is the best way to own them, display them, use them on one's own site? Let's discuss examples, UI, tools, methods, and related tidbits to flesh out the /book page on the wiki to jumpstart additional research and work into the area.



There are a variety of goals one may have with relation to books and the IndieWeb:

  • Authors writing/editing books
  • Authors publishing books
  • Authors marketing books
  • Authors selling books (see ecommerce / IndieWeb for business)
  • Displaying collections of owned books in one's personal library

Some of these portions of a books' early life overlap dramatically and some tools are evolving that subsume all of these pieces of work in one platform.

Big problem (particularly for self-publishing authors): writing and distributing books in a DRY (don't repeat yourself) way from start to finish

  • It would be nice to do all of these pieces on a single website in a simple way


Software and tools for writing and editing of texts and materials for books

  • Github - multiple users and version control
  • Overleaf - an online LaTeX editor
    • some features require a paid account
  • Quip
  • Google Docs
  • Scrivener
    • does epub, mobi,
  • Wikis
    • MediaWiki - potential issue of plugins
    • Allows multiple users writing/editing different sections simultaneously
  • Calibre - like the iTunes of books for document management
    • Will do file conversion from one format to another reasonably well
  • Sigil - for ebook epub document editing
  • Confluence (from Atlassian the owners of Jira, Bitbucket, etc.)
  • Pandoc- convert between document formats
  • MediaCommons.org
  • Pressbooks - built on multi-site WordPress installation
    • Pressbooks is a GPL-licensed plugin that transforms a WordPress Multi-Site install into a book production Content Management System, which exports in multiple formats: ebooks, webbooks, print-ready PDF*, and various XML flavours.

What we're looking for in an editor generally

  • editing
  • collaborating
  • spell check
  • grammar check
  • backup
  • accessibility

General advice

  • Don't edit in your CMS so you don't accidentally loose work or it doesn't get backed up

Book writing communities


Books can be published in physical or digital formats. Even for physical books, one almost always begins with digital versions of texts to send to print shops for manufacturing.

Many editing software (see above) can be used to create digital outputs (.epub, .mobi, .pdf, etc.) which can then be distributed via digital means on one's own website or via a variety of silo methods (see below).

Publicity/ Marketing

Author platforms - general term for author websites for promoting their books and writing

  • Most publishers want/require authors to have them for publicity
  • IndieWeb could be an excellent way to build such sites, particularly for cross-platform conversations especially with POSSE and backfeed
    • Fewer places to check and maintain
    • Makes posting and maintaining content a lot more DRY

IndieWeb examples

Silo Examples

Advance Reader Copies / Advance Reader Editions


Selling books often involves e-commerce

IndieWeb tools, methods, and examples

  • dana boyd has pdfs on her website which are downloadable for free
  • how does Corey Doctorow distribute books on his site?
    • He gives the product away and has indicated in the past that this actually helps with discovery as well as to drive longer term sales.
    • He'd definitely against DRM.
  • Patreon model of writing and using a subscription model of $x per month as the book is written


Distribution Sites/Silos

  • Project Gutenberg
  • Archive.org books - The Internet Archive offers over 15,000,000 freely downloadable books and texts. There is also a collection of 550,000 modern eBooks that may be borrowed by anyone with a free archive.org account.
  • CreateSpace
  • Leanpub - Authors, companies and universities use Leanpub to easily write, publish and sell amazing in-progress and completed ebooks and online courses. Create up to 100 books or courses for free.
  • Wattpad
  • Fanfic sites
    • Archive of Our Own - A fan-created, fan-run, non-profit, non-commercial archive for transformative fanworks, like fanfiction, fanart, fan videos, and podfic

See also