Book publishing. And everything else.

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

When A Book Is Not A Book

My presentation from Books in Browsers is here:

When A Book Is Not A Book

We’re Not Finished

On the heels of the Apple iPad Mini announcement, I’m thinking about cathedrals.

Cathedrals, the lore goes, are never finished. This is not directly attributable to anyone in particular, and a web search brings up very little on this topic, but it’s a notion that many Catholics are reared on: as we strive towards perfection, towards completion, so do our houses of worship. We are never perfected, never completed; neither are our cathedrals.

There will always be another gadget. We invent things, we build things, and we do this at an ever-increasing pace. The nature of publishing now is more change than stability. There is no “final product” – only approaches to finality.

This is quite difficult for folks who think of books (and book publishing) as having permanence. Who look at something like Google’s execution on book metadata (or Apple’s execution on music metadata) and see a final product, not something in flux. The joy of digitization is that things can change. We can perpetually improve them. Nothing is final.

Becoming comfortable with this can be difficult. And each new gadget, each new format, each new iteration, seems an end in itself – one that is insufficient and lacking. Yes, we spend money on the insufficient – the iPad Mini is $329, which is kind of a lot of money for something that isn’t perfect (and which may be replaced by a newer model in 6 months).

But many consumers – and readers! – do understand that we are all on this road together, consumers and developers. And that it is a road toward progress. We’re never going to get there – wherever “there” even IS – but we’re going to approach transcendance from time to time (with linked data, with open data, with tags and identifiers and retina displays).

And even though cathedrals are never finished, they are sure incredibly beautiful.


It’s happening

Crank up those scanners again….

And as even MORE books are digitized, we have an opportunity to think about how they’re going to interoperate.

I’ll be talking about this at Books in Browsers later this week. There’s something I want: for book content to link to other book content. From inside the book.

Winter Knitting

Saturday, the Scamp and I piled in the car and drove two and a half hours north to Rhinebeck for the Dutchess County Sheep and Wool Festival. This is an annual pilgrimage that ushers in winter knitting – it’s barn after barn filled with vendors selling lush fibers, as well as tools, soaps and candles, buttons and jewelry, and…angora rabbits.


I had a resolution only to buy yarns that delighted me.


Scamp and I could not stop squeezing that pale-green alpaca.

It was a beautiful day – crisp air, blue sky, gorgeous foliage.



We lingered by a fish pond.


And we goofed around while resting between barn tours.




If anyone doubts that knitters are a large constituency, they should have a look at this:


This was just a fraction of the people who attended. Everyone was there for yarn. Marketers should be thinking about this.

We brought home our treasures for winding.


Scamp likes to do the winding.


Because we have a little machine that does the tedious work for us:


Now we’re all wound up and ready for our projects. A sweater vest for Bernardo (tweed alpaca), a loop scarf for Scamp (out of that green alpaca), a scarf out of that sparkly mesh. Lots to do.



We had a great #ISBNhour last Friday on Twitter, but given the ephemeral nature of the Twitterverse, I figured I’d post here as well.

ORCID launched last week. The acronym stands for Open Researcher and Contributor ID, and it is primarily designed for scientists and researchers. At ISNI, we’ve received some questions regarding the compatibility of ORCID with ISNI. And there’s a very simple answer: They’re totally compatible. In fact, they are the same number.

ISNI has set aside a block of numbers for ORCID’s use. So registrants of ORCID automatically get an ISNI – it just depends on which label you decide to use for that number. (Rather like an EAN, in Bookland, is also an ISBN.)

The purpose of these identifiers is the same – to unambiguously identify a person of note. An ISNI is a “bridge” identifier – it has very little metadata associated with it, and its primary purpose is to link to proprietary identifiers to provide interoperability among systems.

So applicants to ORCID will, upon receiving their ID, be able to look themselves up on the ISNI website as well.

As soon as my web developers give me a new page on ISNI.org (don’t ask), I’ll post the official ISNI statement on ORCID.

I can’t stop watching

Wine Day! With pictures.

This morning, Bernardo and our friends Charlie and John hustled over to Terminal Market in Queens and came back with this:

Well, actually, 20 of those crates:

Molly was very curious and had to sniff the crates for bombs:

Bernardo had all the materials ready. Metabisulfate, which disinfects our tools. Yeast to help with fermentation. Other powders and implements:

And, of course, the Wine Book. In which Bernardo has documented every batch of wine he’s ever made since 1998.

The first thing we had to do (and I use the word “we” loosely) is rinse out the wine barrels.

And then “we” crushed the grapes.

Molly made sure the empty crates were safe.

The crushing takes the longest, and is the most taxing part (aside from lugging the grapes to and from the car in the first place).

At last, the grapes are crushed.

Time to de-stem!


Then we test the sugar level, to see what the alcohol content is supposed to be:


Then we test the acid level, to see if we need to add more.


Then we add yeast. Special wine yeast – not bread yeast – but it smells the same.


And then…wine magic.


The men stirred the vats.


Then we covered the barrels.


The guys took the empty crates outside…


…and then it was Wine Day Feast:


We toasted the success of this year’s wine with last year’s:


A gorgeous Wine Day.

Tech Day at Frankfurt

Just a reminder that Brian O’Leary and I will be conducting the “Metadata Goes Global” workshop on Thursday morning at the Frankfurt Book Fair. We’ll be in Room Entente, Hall 4.C, from 9:30-12:30. The program breaks down thusly:

  • Getting Metadata Right
  • Making Metadata Effective
  • Preparing For the Next Wave

Additionally, Bill McCoy of IDPF and Luc Audrain of Hachette Livre will be conducting a workshop on EPUB 3 and HTML 5 in the afternoon – in the same location. If you wish to register for these events, go here. TOC has graciously allowed us to offer a discount code when you register for both workshops: Combo25MDEPUB.

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