Integrating an Ebook with the Internet

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While writing “E-Publishers to Watch 2010,” which will be released in the fall as an ebook only, I challenged myself to assume Internet ubiquity (an increasingly safe assumption) and push through the boundaries that separate an ebook and the Internet.

So I’m building a companion website at the same time I’m writing the book, using the open source Drupal platform. This talk will describe my successes and failures in integrating an ebook and the Web. The presentation will alternate between screenshots of the ebook and the companion Web site.

The talk will start by describing the ebook, which is a collection of short, hyperlinked profiles of epublishing innovators, and the formats that allow hyperlinking and deep Web interaction (ePub, pdf, and mobi/amz). Then we’ll consider the surprising number of possible integrations that are available on the Web side. Among them:

  • Frequent editions: it’s almost trivial to create a new, updated edition of an ebook, and I’m taking advantage of it. So I’ve created a “customer” role on the website that allows people who have bought the ebook to access unlimited downloads of new editions for a year. Readers who buy the ebook in the site’s store are automatically granted “customer” status. How do I authenticate customers who buy the ebook on Amazon or Scribd? An interactive quiz!
  • A “contribute” link directly from the ebook to the website: this allows readers to add their comments and suggestions to the next edition of the ebook.
  • A voting option: readers are asked to help choose what epublishers get added first to the next edition.
  • An updated “E-Publishers in the News” section/blog: tracks what has happened to the people featured in the ebook since the last edition. This is also available by RSS and email.
  • Access to a “link crazy” edition: for “customers” who bought the book on the Kindle platform, which handles links in a clunky fashion. The “link crazy” edition, available to customers only, is optimized for online viewing. Customers are also given links to “private” versions on O’Reilly’s Bookworm and Scribd.
  • A live, aggregated Twitter feed: displays the latest tweets from the epublishers featured in the ebook.

Combining an ebook with a Website enables a “liveness” that is not possible with a print version. Many other possibilities will likely emerge as I continue to work on this tightly-integrated project. Some will work, others will fail. Both outcomes will be instructive and thought-provoking.

Photo of D.C. Denison

D.C. Denison

The Boston Globe

D.C. Denison is an editor at The Boston Globe who works at the
intersection of the newspaper and its website, He is the
author of “As Seen on TV” (Fireside/Simon & Schuster)

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