"All the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place"

PediaPress is deployed on all languages of Wikibooks for some days now. Some early orders were shipped and valuable feedback returned.

Wikibooks aficionado Andrew Whitworth shared his first impressions on his blog: My First Book: PediaPress is here.

PediaPress and print-on-demand are here. This is it, this is the sign. When that first book shows up in your mailbox, you know that things have changed. Wikibooks is coming of age today, right now, in a way that most of us 'bookians barely dared to dream about a month ago. The work our authors and editors and volunteers are doing does matter, and will help students and teachers around the world in a very concrete way. All the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place, and the last thing we need is you: your contributions, your books, and your ideas. The books that you write will be printed, bound, and sent to people who can't afford books from traditional publishers. We're going to change the world with this, and we can start right now.

The tech community is usually not a very emotional crowd, and we are certainly no different. But reading Andrew's heart-warming post really touched us and made the many hours worthwile that we put into PediaPress. Thank you, Andrew. We are ready to change the world.


"What? A custom book for less than $10???"

Feedback from the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008

As announced earlier, PediaPress exhibited at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008. It was our first presentation at an international fair and we are very pleased with the results.

To decorate our gargantuan booth (see picture), we exhibited 26 books on various topics (from Artificial Intelligence to Zoroastrianism) generated from Wikipedia content.

There was significantly more interest in PediaPress than we expected, and so we gave quite a few live demos where we explained our concept and technology. We were especially happy to personally meet a lot of Wikipedians. In general, most people liked the idea of the PediaPress service and gave us favorable feedback. :-)

Presenting the service also lead to lots of input regarding usability improvements. And some of our visitors gratuitously volunteered and provided us with helpful tips. A big thank you to all of you!

Obviously, 500 years of letterpress printing have taught people that creating a book involves time and at least some talent or passion for writing. We almost always had to explain twice that PediaPress allows you to compile a book just like mixing a tape (or more contemporary: create a playlist on iTunes).

The days at the fair were also somewhat stressful, but this was well compensated by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we took back home every evening. Overall, the Frankfurt Book Fair was a great and very motivating experience for us. We'll be back in 2009!


PediaPress integrated on German Wikibooks

The guys from Wikimedia Foundation enabled our Collection extension on the German Wikibooks site. More Wikibooks languages will follow soon.

Following the test deployment on their labs servers, this is another major step for our wikis in print mission. Looking forward to see it on Wikipedia soon.

We invite you to check it out and report any problems or feature requests on our bug tracker or discuss on our mailing list.


PediaPress @ the Frankfurt Book Fair 2008

PediaPress will be exhibiting at the Frankfurter Buchmesse, from October 15th-18th, 2008. We will be at our booth E427 in hall 4.2 presenting our service pediapress.com which makes it possible to print customized books from wiki content. We hope that you will be able to drop by to join us either for a meeting, a talk or to view an online demonstration of our service. We are looking forward to your visit.

To book an appointment anytime during the Frankfurt Book Fair, please send us an email at support@pediapress.com.

Our friends from Wikitravel Press will join us at our stand as co-exhibitor.


PediaPress @ Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria

Wikimania logo

Heiko and I just returned from Wikimania 2008 in Alexandria, Egypt. This has been our first Wikimania and it was really a great experience! The talks were interesting and the schedule was so crammed, that we couldn't see as many talks as we'd liked to.

Socializing and Fraternization

Even though the talks were excellent, the main reason to go to a conference like Wikimania are rather the inspiring chats and discussions with other attendees between the talks, at dinner somewhere in Alexandria or while sipping Sakara or Stella in the hotel lobby.

We solely met really nice people, and everyone wanted to talk about Wikipedia, MediaWiki, its uses in education or print-on-demand. It was difficult to find someone who had not something interesting to share.

Even one of our “rivals” turned out to be in fact an ally: During the three days in Alexandria we met several times with Jani Patokallio from Wikitravel Press, and we are now planning to collaborate by exchanging knowledge, ideas and technology.

In addition to the many Wikipedians from all over the world, we were able to meet and talk to SJ Klein (OLPC project), Jure Čuhalev and Tomaž Šolc (Zemanta), Angela Beesley (Wikia), Merrick Schaefer (UNICEF) and Erik Möller (Wikimedia Foundation). I was especially happy to finally meet Brion Vibber, (CTO of Wikimedia) in real life with whom we previously only had lots of email conversations and phone calls.

Our Lightning Talks

On day 3 of the conference we had registered to do a Lightning Talk. Each of us had five minutes for his presentation and a short question and answer session.

Heiko talked about the wiki-to-print project we have with the Wikimedia Foundation and demoed the Collection extension together with the PDF, ODT and DocBook download.

I presented mwlib and its current (OpenOffice.org Wiki, OLPC) and future applications (deployment in Wikipedias and other Commons wikis, the XML Bridge project). I uploaded the slides, for anyone who is interested.

Praise and Thanks

Kudos to all of the organizers of the Wikimania 2008! Special thanks go to Delphine Ménard who managed to solve the issues we had with the registration and our hotel, although these problems were totally our own fault.

The crowning finale of the conference was a great Wikimania open air party with music, dancing, Egyptian folklore shows, a huge buffet and “Wiki Shisha”.

Even on the airport we got to know new Wikipedians who were crazy enough to take that same flight at 3 o'clock in the morning from Borg El Arab to Frankfurt.

And now we are looking forward to Buenos Aires!

Technorati Tags: ,


Collection Extension at the OpenOffice.org Wiki

In his blog post “Books, Wikis and PDFs”, Clayton Cornell from Sun Microsystems describes his experience and impressions with the installation of the Collection extension for MediaWiki at the OpenOffice.org Wiki. He explains how to collect articles, download PDF documents and order professionally printed books from PediaPress.com.

Concerning the PDF output he writes:

Ok, fine, you can generate a PDF, but what does it look like? Is it actually readable? Is it just a jumble of text? This is another area where you can see a lot of time and attention has been put into this extension. The PDF is very well formatted - especially when you consider how basic the source material is.

The people at Sun have a natural interest in OpenDocument (ODT) output which is currently experimental code in mwlib. We are very happy that Clayton and his colleagues plan to collaborate with the PediaPress team to improve it!

Technorati Tags: ,