Custom Covers For PediaPress Books, Finally!

Today is a great day. Today is the day when we say hello to custom covers for PediaPress books. Today is also a sad day, because we say goodbye to our old but beloved orange and blue covers. We've loved them, we've hated them, well, they have been part of our story, they have been the face of PediaPress for the past two years. We'll miss them, but we felt that we needed to give you the opportunity to make covers that really would adapt to the books you were making. After all, custom books should feature a custom cover, right?
What is a custom cover?
Well, it's very simple really, instead of having a set cover for your book, you have now the possibility to compose the cover that suits your book's content, your mood, or the occasion.

Once you've collected your book, on Wikipedia for example, and you've clicked the button "Order as a printed book", you'll be taken to the PediaPress Website and will land on the custom cover manager.
The first step is to choose the color of the background you want for your book. You can try out a few color schemes.
Once you've chosen your background color, you can add a picture to your cover. At this stage, you have the possibility of adding pictures present in the articles that compose your book. The pictures will display in a row under your cover, and you can scroll right and left to choose the picture you want. The cover manager only displays pictures that are of a high enough quality to look good on your cover (excluding very small pictures or pictures of low resolution). Of course, we want your book to look as good as possible.
And that's it, once you've decided that the cover and the pictures were the right one, all you have to do is order, and you will receive your book just as you've designed it. Take a look at the books we've already made!
Have fun exploring the possibilities of the new custom cover manager! And as always, don't hesitate to give us feedback on this new feature by clicking the feedback button on the right of our website or by commenting this blogpost!


One Day At The Frankfurt Book Fair

It is actually the second time that PediaPress is present at the Frankfurt Book Fair, we were there last year, and it's nice to be back.

As always, the Frankfurt Book Fair, the biggest of its kind in Europe, is impressive. Really. The sheer magnitude of it is something you have to see once in your life. Around 7000 exhibitors from 100 countries [1], scattered around 10 or so exhibition halls, it is huge. From Comics to Art books, through Education, and Gutenberg knows what other topics, the Frankfurt book fair is an event that gathers thousands people from around the world around one passion, books. Books in every form and shape, ebooks, paper books, panorama books, strange books, great books and of course, Wikipedia Books.

It is always interesting to see what attracts people to our booth. Some know about us and just come and visit, wanting to find out more about what we do. Others are drawn by the word wiki in our tagline "wikis in print" and make the direct connection with Wikipedia. Some again are just excited by amazing variety of titles on display (from New York City to Weimarer Republik and somewhere in the middle Body Modifications or The Solar System).

It is in any case always great to observe how people react to books made from Wikipedia articles. You have the cautious, who wonder if those books "can be quoted, because, after all, they're from Wikipedia, and Wikipedia is not an authoritative source". They represent the old line of caution between online and offline distribution, nothing new there, and some truth in it too. Others who just find this "so cool! I can really make any book I want, with all the articles I find interesting?" "Yes you can." They are the enthusiasts, discoverers and early adopters. Those then who think Wikipedia books should be in every single school on the planet. I like to call them idealists, with a bit of utopia on the side. Those finally who come up with cool ideas of new books to put together. They are the creative and fun. In short, from the cautious to the eager and fans, we get to see a lot of different and interesting people. Not enough Wikipedians though, we hope to see more in the days to come!

On the stand we can show you our new cover designer, which we'll make public in a few weeks and which will allow you to customize your book cover, and we do fun demonstrations of how the new version of the booktool works. We also have coupons to distribute, so you can get a discount on your next book. We're in Hall 4.2, stand G413. Come by and visit!

[1] Der Tagespiegel 13/10/2009


Create Books Easily: New Version of the Book Creator is live on Wikimedia Projects

Last week, the new version of the Book creator interface has been deployed within the Wikimedia projects. We are very excited about this new step, it's a bit like a new start for books on Wikimedia projects.

Bringing Wikimedia contents offline

The Book creator is now deployed on many Wikimedia projects, and we're still working at making it suitable for all languages and all wikis. On most wikis, it is available both to anonymous readers as well as to logged in users. You access the Book creator by clicking the link "Create a book" on the left sidebar. On the English Wikipedia, it is available to logged-in users only at this stage (unless you know the direct link to start the book creator ;-)). For those who don't know, the Book creator (technically: the Collection extension for Mediawiki) allows readers to very simply browse a collection of their favorite articles and bring it to print, be it in PDF, ODF or in a real printed book. A good way to bring Wikimedia contents offline. The new version of the Book Creator is much more practical. Let's face it, the previous version was a bit geeky in its implementation, not exacty a model of usability (scrolling down to add a page, anyone?) and also not very sexy (all text and no images). The new version implements several features in a much nicer and much more practical way.

Easy to see, easy to use

The Book creator is easy to reach: when you start it by clicking in the left sidebar, it is displayed as a box at the top of your articles. The box stays while you are browsing articles, allowing you to add pages easily. You can also display the state of your book at any time and add chapters, or reorganize articles.

Add pages quickly and easily

The Book creator now makes adding pages to your book very easy with a whole set of improvements.
  • Once the Book creator is started, you just need to click the link "add an article" at the top of the article to well... "add an article" :)
  • Add a whole category to a book in a breeze. Simply browse the category and the "add article" link will change into an "add category". Clicking it will add all the articles in that category (note: at this stage, the book creator will only accept a maximum of 200 articles from a given category).
  • You can also add a page by simply hovering above an internal link, clicking on the link shown in the popup that appears. This speeds up the collection process by enabling you to add articles without having to open them.

The Creative Feature: Suggest pages

The Book creator now gives you ideas to make great books. The new version introduces a new feature, called "Suggest pages". When you have added at least one article in your book, clicking on the wizard wand in the Book creator box allows you to let the tool suggest articles to add to your book. The "suggest" features uses the links and the frequency of keywords associated with links in the article, and with some normalization and magic calculations, it will give you a list of articles which might be interesting to make your book more complete. Try it. Start a book with your favorite article, click the suggest article link, and let the tool take you in creative directions you might not have thought about!


Tell Me What Books You Read, I Will Tell You Who You Are

In a BBC article titled "What does your Bookcase Say About You?", Siobhan Toman reviews the reasons why people have books and most importantly, what they do with them.
Apart from the fact that books may rest your eyes from the computer screen, they also have tremendous social value. Ever since the printing press has been invented, displaying books would show not only
how very learned you were - you could read - but they were also very expensive. At one throw, you proved your intellectual and monetary value.
says Ms Geddes-Brown, author of Books Do Furnish a Room.
The author points out that whatever may have been said about how the rise of the internet and the plethora of content available through websites would be the end of the printed book, it is being proved wrong everyday. Online availability of texts have not in the least defeated the power of printed books, on the contrary. We at PediaPress are of course convinced that printed books have a great future and that they help knowledge being passed around and withstand time.
So going with the idea that our books say something about us, I went and had a look at the Billy bookcase in my living room. On the middle shelf, I found, in no particular order:

  • A set of French classic poetry paperbacks (Saint John Perse, Baudelaire...)
  • A book on Tolkien's world
  • A book on a North Pole Expedition
  • An Encyclopedia of the MGM
  • A book on Dolphins
  • A book on Wine
  • The Devil Wears Prada and some other airport reads
  • A book on ''Praktische Typografie''
  • One of the seven volumes of Harry Potter
  • Four or five history books, as well as Tocqueville's ''De la démocratie en Amérique''
  • A few French classics (Flaubert, Guy de Maupassant etc.)
  • A book about how to start your own company
  • Some Fantasy books (excellent Trudi Canavan) and some Science Fiction
What does that tell you about me? And what are the books on your shelves? We're curious, reader, we want to know you better ;-).


New additions to the PediaPress team

As you may have read in our previous blog post, we have been looking for someone to help us with marketing and communication, as well as with assisting users in the various Wikimedia projects.

The position is now filled and we are happy to announce that Delphine Ménard ([[User:notafish]]) and Gaëtan Landry ([[User:Headbomb]]) are joining the team as of today.

Delphine is a long time Wikimedian and has worked for the Wikimedia Foundation as Chapters Coordinator. She currently sits on the board of Wikimédia France as treasurer and is still very much involved in chapters activities. Delphine has a long experience with marketing and communication agencies. She also organized three of the five Wikimanias (the international Wikimedia conference). Living near Frankfurt she will be able to visit us at the office. Delphine will mainly take care of marketing and communication, starting with the Book Fair in Frankfurt.

Gaëtan has been a contributor in the English Wikipedia for a year and a half and has about 35.000 edits to his name and participates in many Wikiprojects. He is a student in Physics at the Université de Moncton in Canada. Gaëtan will focus on making sure that everything is ready in the English Wikipedia for the deployment of the Collection tool's new version. Further, he will work closely with the editors to grow the catalog of community created Wikipedia-Books.

Both Delphine and Gaëtan will work part-time for PediaPress and will assist users and collect feedback in the various Wikimedia projects.

Welcome to them!