Order Books Before 6th of December to Make Sure They Get to You in Time!

You know how it is, Holiday Season is one of those times where everything tends to be hectic and things have got to go fast. Well, no exception for ordering great customized books for your loved ones in time to put them under the Christmas tree.

Considering books have got to be printed and then sent to wherever you are in the world, if you want to have your books ready for Christmas and want to be able to tuck them in your loved ones' Christmas Sock, you need to get busy.

Our Customer survey showed that most people take around 10 to 30 minutes to make a great book. However, well, all this knowledge takes a little more time to be printed and shipped. So this week, the first 15 minutes you have available should be dedicated to make your customized Wikipedia books. Any order made before December 6th will get to you in time, any order after that date, we cannot guarantee that it will make it in time to the Christmas Tree. The good news is, our German customers have a little more time, as for them the deadline for any book shipped within Germany is the 15th of December.

Get going, start the book creator and make your book. If you're short of ideas, look up the posts we filed under our ideas tag, this should give you plenty of material to work with. In these times of end-of-the-year Season though, you might want to add a Yearbook to your collection (retracing all great events of the past year) or who knows, a book about Christmas and everything related to it!

And of course, don't forget all the beautiful-books goodness we've been introducing in the past few weeks, hard covers and color content for even more fantastic books.


PediaPress Books for the Zedler Medaille

The Zedler Medaille, a prize awarded for excellent articles by Wikimedia Deutschland, was awarded last Friday in Frankfurt.

The winners were Jürgen Erbs, for the article "Besselsche Elemente" (Besselian Elements) in the category Natural Sciences and Tobias Lutzi for the article "Dagobert Duck" (Scrooge McDuck) in the category Humanities. It was the 4th Edition of the Zedler Medaille, a Prize developped in 2007 by Wikimedia Deutschland, the Mainzer Akademie der Wissenschaft and the Publishing House Spektrum der Wissenschaft in 2007 to reward authors writing Wikipedia articles in Natural Sciences and Humanities. This year also introduced a new prize for excellent pictures, which unfortunately did not find the resonance it should have. Only a third price was awarded, for an image illustrating Focus Stacking.

For this special occasion, PediaPress offered customized books to the winners in the article category, books in which we collected all articles having won the Zedler Medaille in the last four years. It is kind of exhilarating, and rather fun, to be able to give books with their names on it to people who've just won a prize, which actually feature their articles. That's how customizable PediaPress books are. The Zedler Medaille Book (we also made a "general" edition) is available to purchase for anyone interested (in German, of course).

You have a special event you'd like to make even more special by giving books away? Contact us, we can help!

Image source: © Raimond Spekking - "Übergabe an Gewinner" - Wikimedia Commons - CC-BY-SA-3.0


Jingle Books, Jingle Books, Jingle All The Way!

There's something about time that I quite don't get, Christmas seems to be there earlier each year. And now it's upon us again. Well, Holiday Season, since not everyone will celebrate Christmas the same way, or even at all. Anyway, that time is around the corner and while I'm sure you're already thinking "It's too early to think about it yet", I am also sure that there is a little voice at the back of your head which goes "Oh noes, I am going to have to think about presents again!". I don't know about you, but I always have a hard time finding good presents in time for the people I love. And especially for the people I love. They seem to have it all, and frankly, yet another pair of gloves or again the best-seller novel of the year, which they might not even like, is not an option.

So... how about a present that nobody else has thought about? A present that's different? A present that's tailored to the person you love? I am thinking, of course, one of our customized Wikipedia books!

Let's see, what kind of book would please say, my grand-father? He was born in 1919, loves planes, records the weather better than any weather station out there and used to make wine. No book out there will have all of this in one, except the book I can make for him. So here it goes. Let's start with the article 1919. I'll add some aviation stuff (how about the articles: Aviation, General aviation, Glider (he used to glide), Aerial warfare (he was a pilot in the war), I'll throw in a few French aviators and aviation history of his time, such as Jean Mermoz , Antoine de Saint-Éxupéry, Générale Aéropostale, Pierre Georges Latécoère. I'll then move on to some Meteorology topics and add the article about the Rain Gauge (he has one in the garden that he checks every morning). And I'll finish up with the wine theme: Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée, Regional Bordeaux AOCs, and Bordeaux Wine Regions. That should do it. I'll title it "From planes to wine, History and my Grand-Father", or something along those lines.

But there's also: my best friend, who'll get a thorough volume about Rock Music with a pinch of George Clooney). My cousin, who just moved to Montréal, Canada, will love a book about the city, the Province and the country. There's also my favorite colleague. She's a news buff, so for her it'll be the Year 2010 according to Wikipedia. Something that mixes the Football World Cup in South Africa with the Polish plane crash and adds a touch of Claude Chabrol and Eric Rohmer (she was a fan of their work).

In short, for every person, I can make the book that best represents them. A fine personal gift, all the more since I can now choose color content and hardcovers for a great look. What about you? Which book are you going to make for your loved ones? It's easy, it starts here. Don't forget to share the cool books you have made on our Facebook page!


Wikipedia Books Now in Color and Hardcovers

You've been asking, we've been listening. The most demanded features for our Wikipedia books were color inside and hardcover outside. It's now a reality. As of a few days ago, you can now order books in hardcover and with color content. We're very excited about these new features, because it allows you to make books that are not only customized, but also even more beautiful and resistant. They simply look good in your bookshelf.

Wikipedia articles are illustrated with material from Wikimedia Commons, which features more than 5 million freely licensed images and graphics. Some of those pictures are simply breathtaking, and offering color for our books is only paying justice to the amazing work of hundreds of volunteers who upload their free material on Wikimedia projects. It was long due, but it's now here.

As for hardcovers, they allow your customized Wikipedia books to be even more stunning. We've chosen for those hardcovers a cream-colored paper, which lends your books an extremely classy look, as well as opted for a bound silk bookmark, which comes in handy for easy reference.

Of course we still offer our paperback books. If you wish to add color or get a hardcover for your book, all you have to do is choose the corresponding option on the editing screen where you prepare your book (see screenshot). You can still have hardcover in Black and White as well as color in paperback. All combinations are possible.

The hardcovers and color books are perfect for a special gift to someone you care about. Whether you go for the Birthday Book, or the Travel Book, or simply any customized book from Wikipedia content, color and hardcover will make a difference, and a fantastic Christmas present!


Wikimedia Hungary Closes Book Contest in the Hungarian Wikipedia

Wikimedia Hungary launched a book contest (funky Google translation here) a few weeks ago in the Hungarian Wikipedia. The idea was to have the Wikipedia community work on making the best possible books with Wikipedia articles. A jury of five people chose five books as winners:

  • The Hittites
  • The Culture of Miskolc
  • The Champions of Formula–1
  • The Techniques and Machines of Metalworking
  • Chapters on the clothing and textile industry
As one can see, a wide range of subjects, which also shows the wide array of topics available on Wikipedia for making customized books. The prize for the winners were to have their books printed through PediaPress.

I have asked Bence Damokos, member of the board of Wikimedia Hungary and initiator of the contest, a few questions about his experience with books and this contest. Here are his answers.

PediaPress: What gave Wikimedia Hungary the idea to launch a Book contest on the Hungarian Wikipedia?

Bence Damokos:
We found the possibility to print books out of Wikipedia articles an interesting concept ever since it was enabled on the English Wikipedia a couple of years ago. We felt that reusing content offline – either as specialized course-ware or thematic collections – would be a good indication that a given topic area is of suitable quality and credibility. Also, we realized in our presentations and outreach work that showing Wikipedia content as a book would be a very good demonstration tool to answer a range of common questions ("Is it any good?", "What are the topics that are really well written?", "How do you recognize a good article?" etc.).
This is why we decided that we need to print some books that can be used in various demonstrations. To design and edit the books that would serve these purposes we turned to the community with this book contest.

PediaPress: What do you find books bring to the Wikipedia experience?

Bence Damokos:
I think that print can give a new dimension to how Wikipedia content is accessed and consumed. A printed book gives a frame to the incorporated topic allowing for a more focused study or browsing of a certain topic. I find that it is much easier to read and concentrate on an article when it is printed out; simply viewing it online will often just result in skimming the content and a number of other distractions.
An other very important aspect is that books are more tangible and convey a sense of value and credibility. Wikipedia stores such a vast amount of information that it is impossible to grasp without a metaphor; the fact that you can print a whole book on almost any single topic you can think of is amazing – and the book tool transforms this metaphor into a reality. This tangibility of the printed books also provides individual editors the possibility to create a real-world object out of their work, and it is a wonderful experience to see one's online effort materialize in a paper book.

PediaPress: How do you plan to use the books in the future?

Bence Damokos:
Our primary aim is to use the books in our outreach activities: when giving presentations on Wikipedia, having wiki-meetups or going to meetings to discuss partnership proposals. We think that these books will be a very practical demonstration tool when talking about the quality, content and editorial policies of Wikipedia. The five books put together will show better than words that Wikipedia really tries to bring together the sum of human knowledge from all areas of life.

A very interesting experience indeed, which we hope can be replicated in other Wikimedia Projects, in all possible languages. Community books are a great way to advance the distribution of free knowledge. If you wish to set up such a contest within your local Wikimedia project, just contact us and we'll work together to make it happen!

Photo credits: The five Wikipedia books printed for the Wikimedia Hungary Book Contest. © Bence Damokos, license: CC-BY-SA.


Back to School: A Wikipedia Book To Start The Academic Year

As winter settles in and students slowly take their place back on the seats of universities and schools, I thought it'd be interesting to look at the initiatives that would make good books with good Wikipedia content.

On the topic of improving the quality of Wikipedia, there are quite a number of initiatives started at the school or university level, most of them destined to enrich the Encyclopedia on specific topics. The idea to have students add to Wikipedia under the supervision of their teacher is not exactly new; but it takes different turns every time. I remember the first project I was made aware of, five years ago, on the French Wikipedia. Jean-Noël Lafargue, a professor at the University of Paris VIII, started a workshop in which the students were graded on their contributions to the French Wikipedia in the realm of Contemporary Art (digital arts, but also architecture, art history, cinema etc.). The idea of the project was mainly to make sure that the section about contemporary art grew under supervision and motivation. Such projects are actually much more numerous than one thinks, and the last one I was made aware of had an extremely interesting focus, namely the goal to make Chemistry concepts on the English Wikipedia more accessible to the layman. This was a project conducted by Anne McNeil, a professor at the University of Michigan.

One of the first questions that comes to mind when putting Wikipedia on paper is often "what about the quality of the articles, are they worth putting on paper?". If University Professors actually work with their students in creating, correcting and rewriting Wikipedia articles, in short, if they think that Wikipedia is worth their time, then surely it is worth putting on paper.

Back to school

One of the things that often comes back in evaluating the quality of Wikipedia content is its extreme diversity. Wikipedia tackles topics that no other work of reference refers to, at least in such a comprehensive way. This is true for everyday topics (the much talked about Pokemons come to mind) but it is also true for very specific areas of science or literature, which stay obscure even for the specialists, but on which Wikipedia has a very detailed article. This is where books come into play.

A book made from Wikipedia articles is an excellent introduction to whatever topic you are interested in. New students in Chemistry at University? No doubt the Wikipedia articles in Chemistry reviewed and rewritten under the supervision of Professor Anne McNeil are a good place to start the book that will give you all the information you need to start the year prepared on the subject. And this goes for every single topic you can dream of. Wikipedia does have 3.4 million articles after all. So go for it! Start the book creator and make the book that will accompany you through your studies on the topic of your choice. And share it with others, so that other students can benefit from it!


¡Hablamos Español!

Well, our "español" is not yet at the top of what it could be, but we're trying hard. We've finally gotten around to translate our web interface in Spanish. The Spanish Wikipedia is growing rapidly and offers now more than 650 000 articles for the reader to compile their books with. The "create a book" (crear un libro) has been enabled on the Spanish Wikipedia for quite some time now, and it has been well used in other language Wikipedias, but we hadn't gotten around to make it easier for Spanish speakers to get a hold of their own paperback made from Wikipedia articles.

Now, when people come to our website from the Spanish Wikipedia, they get to make their own book following instructions in Spanish.

The journey starts on Wikipedia, with the crear un libro link, which one can find on the left hand side in the navigation bar, under imprimir/exportar. When you have started the book creator, you can add articles as you browse Wikipedia and make your own book. Once you've finished collecting the articles you want in your book, just click on Previsualizar con PediaPress in the section Solicitar el libro impreso. You'll be taken to our PediaPress Website... in Spanish! There you need to be a little patient Por favor, espere unos minutos - su libro está siendo cargado. Once that is done, you can personalize your cover and order your book... all in Spanish.

Cover image

Although our Spanish is a bit rusty and we can't guarantee that our grammar is perfect, we'll also try to answer your questions in Spanish. Don't hesitate to ask us through the feedback button if you need help, and if you find anything in our Spanish translation that does not make sense, or that is missing, don't hesitate either to just tell us, we'll do our best to ensure you get the best book experience ever!

¡Hasta luego!


Let's Meet at the Franfurt Book Fair 2010

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the meeting point of all things book around the world. It is starting on Wednesday, October 6th. This year, we have decided to be present differently than the previous years. We'll be strolling the alleys and visiting partners, sharing experiences with like minded businesses, presenting our service in a conference, rather than have a booth. This said, if you want to get a hold of us - and we'd really love to see you there, it's always great to meet interested people for real rather than online or not at all - you have three possibilities.

First, Argentina being the Guest of Honor of the Frankfurt book fair this year, you'll be able to meet the great folks of Wikimedia Argentina, with whom we've worked on books they can show you. They'll be presenting, most especially, their book on the Bicentenial of the May Revolution (Bicentenario de la Revolución de Mayo). Throughout Thursday and Friday, you'll have a chance to catch them at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung booth: Hall 3.1 B 150. You should also go to the conference they're giving on Argentina Copyleft, the Crisis of Copyright and the Democratisation of Culture on Thursday morning.

Second, our very own Christoph (Kepper) will be participating in a panel on the subject "Content Print on Demand – A Model for the Future?" where he'll say what he thinks the future has in store for us and wiki books. Please go and bombard him with tough questions, he'll love that!

Third, Christoph, Eva, Heiko and myself will be at various times and days at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Just drop us an email through the feedback form if you want to meet, with your email/phone and we'll get back to you, or phone in at +49 (0) 6131 327 180 9 to make an appointment! We're looking forward to seeing you in the great Temple of books!

Photo: © Dontworry, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Source: Wikimedia Commmons


Spicing Up Your Book Experience: The New Preview Feature

To create a book on Wikipedia is easy: all it takes is to start the book creator and add the Wikipedia articles you want to see in your book. Until now, when you wanted to have your book printed and were directed to the PediaPress website, all you had was a basic book preview that allowed you to take a peek at your book, but didn't really give you the feel of the book.

We've improved the book preview recently, and here is the rundown of the new features we have introduced, namely, a book preview that gives you a real life experience of what your book will end up looking like.

When you arrive on the PediaPress page that allows you to give the final touch to your book (adding the right title, subtitle and editor's name, as well as choosing the cover image), you will see a link just under your book, which asks you to click to preview (actually, you can click anywhere on the book to open the preview). In the old preview, this link opened to an image showing the inside of your book on one page. Good, but not good enough. We have revamped the preview feature and changed a few things that needed a little novelty.

When you click on the cover to fire up the preview, the first thing you see is the cover. Maximized and in color, it gives you a better impression of what your book will look like when you hold it in your hands. You can then navigate the book with right and left arrows, which appear when you hover over the edge of the cover (example below)

The content preview is based on the first few articles (pages) of your book. The former preview that showed one page after another was replaced by a spread of both right and left pages, giving you a better feel of what the typesetting looks like for real. It gives a better sense of use of space and picture placement in the finished book.

Only the first 50 pages of your book are previewed. The first ones, numbered with Roman Numerals, are the Table of Contents, which shows you how many pages the book is going to have. When you click on one page, you are taken to the next page (right page goes forward, left page goes backward). The last pages of the preview are the last pages of the book, giving you a sample of the Appendix which comes at the end of the book and presents:

* Article Sources and Contributors * Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors * Index (series of keywords extracted from the body of articles)

Thanks to our new book preview, you now have a good look of the book on your screen and you can better imagine how it will look like in your hands.

Time for you to make a new book to try it out!


The Book, the eBook and the Future

As Wired proclaimed the death of the web, it struck me that many times over the years, I had read articles about how the paper book was dead, or about to die. It took only a Google search to find that the headlines proclaiming or questionning the death of the traditional (read: paper) publishing industry are legion. Since it is a topic that touches us closely, I thought I'd share my findings and some thoughts with you.

Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Of the many "The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book" entries I found on the internet, I found two to be of particular interest. They date back to 2006, times when the Kindle, iPad and other such digital reading devices didn't exist for the layman, except maybe in the dreams of a few techies who were working on them. The first one is one by Jeff Jarvis, entitled...well, "The Book is Dead, Long Live the Book". Jarvis in his post addresses the question of digital over paper, which at the time was a threat looming upon the horizon, and focuses on content, arguing that most of the most successful books are simply badly written. He ends his post on these words:

I’m waiting for someone to lament that these kids today don’t read. But they read a lot. They may not read books as much and they may read their share of inspipid personal pages, but they also can now find and read information that is more relevant to them and that is recommended by people they trust thanks to the technology of the internet. I think — or, to be more accurate, I hope — that this will lead to more of a true meritocracy of writing. Good writing will rise. Bad writing may still be on the airport newsstand shelves. But then, when you’re braindead on a six-hour flight, sometimes a braindead book is still just what you need.

A day later, Stephen Baker in Business Week reacts to Jarvis' post, and defends books, arguing that he'd:

take a book over any of the interactive tools they’re building at MIT or Disney. Books give you access to great minds of the past, and they do a better job than any other medium I know of transporting you to those times and places.

That's a snippet of the debate back in 2006. What does this conversation look like today? Still searching, I stumbled upon two much more recent posts, written in the past week. First an extremely interesting post by Carly Z, asking "Is the Paper Book Dead?. Carly Z addresses a broad range of areas where the eBook has to come together before it can really take over the paper book, from pricing to format, content and audience. I recommend the read, it's a good one. In the end, I tend to agree with Carly Z in the conclusion of the post:

Honestly, I think the various declarations of “Print is dead in 5 years/10 years/already dead” are missing the broader picture. There are many moving pieces to making digital books dominant, and they aren’t as simple as “prices go down/availability goes up”. Consumers need to be comfortable with ebooks, the content and hardware need to work well together, and the most important part is remembering that just because ebooks may become dominant does not mean paper books are going to disappear.

Another post by Om Malik caught my attention. Titled (again!) "The Book is Dead! Long Live the Book!" touches upon his experience of slowly shifting to eBooks, mainly for practical reasons but most importantly how:

Internet connectivity and multimedia capabilities give us an opportunity to rethink what a book is, and even re-imagine the art of storytelling.

All of these reflexions got me thinking. Here at PediaPress, we bring digital content (wikis!) to paper. I won't hide that we've been thinking (and asked, by some people) about also offering eBooks made from wiki content. We still haven't gotten around to it. We might, or we might not. I see PediaPress' adventure as one that bridges the digital and the paper world. Our content is written, amended, updated and rewritten by you all, which makes it an ever shifting content. With this I guess we transcend Jeff Jarvis' lamentations on the quality of content, since the content of our books can change when it's needed, or deemed obsolete. Our books don't fit the definition Jarvis gives:

[Books] are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected. They have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources.

Because books from wikis are of a different nature. They are rather a picture than a freeze, something like what Polaroid is to traditional photography. You can make your book, and remake it a year later, jsut to see the changes in the topic you've chosen.

The content being online to start with, they actually do give links and sources and you could even print the talk pages of Wikipedia if you wanted to follow the debate on a topic.

Although we don't exactly print out books that do storytelling in the strict sense of the term, our books tell stories of how knowledge evolves. And the sum of human knowledge, at that.

I am also still convinced that nothing replaces paper when it comes to annotations (ah, the feeling of conversing with the author that writing an exclamation mark with a pen in the paper margin gives!), personalisation (nothing compares to giving a paper book rather than send a pdf, I think), or to some extent, practicality (book on the beach, losing your book, taking your book in places where a Kindle or an iPad wouldn't survive...).

I guess I am biased. After all, we do paper books. But I'm curious what you all think. What's your take on the future of the paper book? Should we also go digital? Why do you even create and buy PediaPress books? Does paper have for you the same attraction that it has for us? Tell us in the comments.

[photo source: Amazon Kindle eBook Reader by goXunuReviews, on Flickr, CC-BY]


The Beach, My Book and I

This is the time of the year that we all have been waiting for in this hemisphere. Holidays! It's been way too hot in the past few days and we're all ready to just go away, leave behind us work, boss and responsibilities, and take a break. But the holidays are also this great time to catch up on all the reading we haven't done in the year.

I don't know about you, but I hate going on holidays and doing (really) nothing. I mean, don't get me wrong, I will take an hour or two just lying on the beach looking at the ocean, but more than that and I get bored. I would take my computer and surf the net to catch up on all the info I don't have time to read as I would like during the rest of the year, but it's too heavy, and it won't take the sand, and it's way too hot out there for my computer's fragile components. I do have my smartphone, but I'm going to France, and roaming is way too expensive to be surfing on my dataplan. Not to mention that with the reverberation on the beach, the screen is hard to read. So I'm stuck looking at the sea. As I said, nice for an hour or two, but after a while, simply boring. But this beach time really is the one time where reading something profound, or something mindless, makes the most sense. We need reading ideas.

What better choice than spending some time (in those empty summer hours where there is no work to do anyway ;-)) compiling a few Wikipedia articles into a book? You could do your own or browse our catalogue. My choice would be to take the whole of Star Wars on Wikipedia with me, because I've thought about (yet again) watching all the episodes. A little background would be good. I suppose some of you will prefer to take with you the book of Time, while others will fall for Hadronic Matter.

In short, before you go on holidays, take the time to compile your favorite subjects in a book that will fit in your bag, not mind the sun or the sand and not cost you an arm and a leg. You can start here, and if you haven't done it before, you might want to look at our video, which I embed here for your convenience.

Happy holidays, safe travels and great reads!

Wikipedia In Print - How to create custom books with a mix of content from the free encyclopedia

[image source: © Tim Bartel -Konzentration auf Strand, CC-BY-SA]


PediaPress Wiki Books Go Wikimania!

In only a week, the whole PediaPress Team will be going to Gdańsk, to take part in Wikimania, the international Wikimedia annual conference. It is the 6th edition of Wikimania, and we're looking forward to it, as it is a great way for us to meet and mingle with the Wikimedia Community and get hands-on feedback on our books and features.

This year, we'll be giving presentations and workshops about books and their impact on the Wikimedia Projects and the World.

Gaëtan (Headbomb) will be giving a presentation on how the use of Wikipedia content offline actually helps better the quality of content online. I urge you to attend this presentation. It is amazing what making a book brings to the way one sees Wikipedia articles and Gaëtan has been working hard in getting the Wikiproject Wikipedia-Books off the ground, so he has hands-on experience which is worth hearing.

Heiko will be talking about how much the book tool has evolved in the past year and what we have in store for an ever more interesting and more useful book creator. He will also propose a workshop to help trigger more ideas and find viable solutions to publish Wikipedia Books and get them into bookstores.

Wikimania is a lot of fun and a great place to meet everyone remotely interested in the field of wikis and that of free knowledge. Before Wikimania, we'll also be hanging around Wikisym, the place to be for research about wikis and wiki communities.

We're looking forward to meeting you there, don't hesitate to drop us a word in the comments if you want to meet in Gdańsk, for a beer or a book ;). You can also grab us at the conference when you see us, most of us will be there!


What a Week For Wiki Books in Print!

It's been quite a week this past week, indeed! In all fairness, we've always known that the book creator is a great feature for Wikipedia and all wikis, but we were not so sure about our ability to show the world what great things you can do with it.

Well, we didn't really have to, because it seems everyone picked up on how interesting, different, and not so crazy the concept of wikipedia articles in print really is. It all started with Techcrunch picking up the story of how Wikipedia and PediaPress Now Allow You To Create Books From Content In English. Mashable reported about how Wikipedia Now Lets You Order Printed Books and engaged its readers to ask themselves whether the Book creator was "a cool way to use free content" and whether they "might use PediaPress to create a book for [themselves] or a friend?".

On Twitter, many people retweeted Techcrunch's or Mashable's articles, but some added their little comments. sutrav remarked that "PediaPress will take any wiki you want, typeset & print it and mail you the book" (well, any wiki that runs Mediawiki and the collection extension, really). Jay Walsh, Head of communication of the Wikimedia Foundation, of which PediaPress is an official partner, pointed out how it was "Time to make that 'WP's history of coffee table books' book!", this while the Wikimedia Foundation Blog reported on how it gets easier to share free content thanks to the book creator.

Paul M. Watson found that "The new Create A Book feature on Wikipedia works quite nicely for PDFs." and realised that you can then "get a printed book version of your Wikipedia book from Pediapress. Awesome." while, Tom Sepp called teachers to "Combine a wiki with print and digital publishing tools for a new way to produce educational resources".

Meredith Blake of The New Yorker was sceptic at first, but then decided that a "customized Wikipedia book [...] now strikes [her] as a wonderfully democratic thing." And while Steve Attard decided that he "love[d] D way D publishing industry is changing..." [because] "Wikipedia And PediaPress Now Allow You To Create Books From Content", others started making their very own books. Lost remote made their very own "The Lost Remote Wikipedia Guide to Media", while Jesse CourteManche "finished compiling [his] PediaPress book on the roots of globalism; “Dawn of the 20th Century.

Well, these are just a few of the cool things we saw out there in the blogo-twitto-news-o-sphere and we're very grateful that our hard work was noticed and showed off as it was. It motivates us to do ever better and more for making the book creator a top tool for bringing wikis to print.

As I write this, Steven Walling has just received the sample PediaPress book we sent him, let's see how he likes it. And actually, if you are a journalist and want to see what wiki books look like, don't hesitate to contact us.


The English Wikipedia Now Offers Custom Books to All Users!

That's it, the book creator has gone live in the English Wikipedia! A few hours ago, the book creator has been made available to all users of the English Wikipedia. This feature, which allows all readers to create books from Wikipedia articles, has been until now only available to logged-in users. It has been available in other Wikipedias for a a longer time, it's now available on the English Wikipedia, for all, without restrictions.

The whole PediaPress team has been working hard in the last few months to offer our users a better online and offline experience. The book creator has been revamped to make it easier to use, as well as faster and more complete. The custom books made through PediaPress now feature color covers and the possibility to add an image, and will soon offer hard covers and color content. We've also refreshed our catalogue with brand new books and you can find out all about the new feature in the screencast we published on YouTube.

We are very happy to be able to offer this feature on Wikipedia in the frame of our long term partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation, and are at your disposal at any time for more information. Our contact information, official press release, as well as other press material (interviews, photos and more), can be found in our Press Room.

We are looking forward to even more great books to share with the world!


Book Sharing Made Easy, Who Will You Share Them With?

With this whole chocolatey atmosphere around us in the past few days (this is Easter marketing for you in Europe), we thought that it was time to add to the sharing. Sharing of books, of course, since we don't really do chocolate online.

So We've been working towards adding a few easy shortcuts for you to share your custom books with your friends through social networks such as Facebook or Twitter, or even by email. Sharing in short, in as many ways as possible, with as many people as possible.

You will now find a [share] link present in various places while you're browsing the pediapress.com website. You can find the first one on the upload screen. Once you've customized your book, you can click on [share your finished book]. This will prompt a dialogue which will ask you to confirm that you want to give your book a url which will allow you to share it easily. Note that once the book is shared, you won't be able to edit it anymore.

The action of [sharing] will give your book a set url of the form http://pediapress.com/books/show/name-of-your-book which you can then use to advertise your book around.

We've also added a share icon to the visualisation screen. When you've generated the easy-to-share url, you can click on your book and you will find a" share" icon which allows you to send your books to popular social networks such as Facebook (where incidently, you can become a fan of PediaPress), Twitter, identi.ca, delicious and more.

As a bonus, we also now offer a practical way to go back and manage in a neat list the books you have uploaded to PediaPress [*] through the "Your Books" tab at the top of the PediaPress website screen (between "Home" and "Catalog").

So now that we've made it easy for you to share your books, who will you share with? Your colleagues to show them the books you made with all the articles you wrote on Wikipedia? Your friends who are interested in the same topics you are? Your parents to make sure your next birthday gift is a book you really want? The travel companions that are coming with you on your next holiday to the other end of the world? Well, I suppose all of those are options and more.

In short, we are counting on you to make sure the wiki spirit of collaboration and togetherness lives on by sharing your custom books with the world. On the contrary to chocolate, to use and abuse is good for your health :D.

[*]Note that this feature will be enhanced in the next version of the pediapress.com website when we launch user accounts. For now, it works with cookies, so will only work on the one computer you used to upload your books and if you have not erased your cookies.


In Need of a Great Birthday Present? Think of the Birthday Book!

In our series "What kind of book can I make with PediaPress?", here is our second installment. There is one "book" that comes back again and again in the books that our users make, the Birthday Book. Not a book about Birthdays, no, but a custom book for someone who's dear to you and who you want to surprise with something a bit out of the ordinary (I've found that as we get older, surprising gets more and more difficult). People have gone out of their way to make books that reflect the "Birthday person"'s life, in one way or another.

We've seen different kinds of "Birthday Books". The first one is a book that retraces what happened in the world during someone's life. The editor chooses an event for each year of someone's life and puts all of these events together in a book. Wikipedia makes this rather easy as it provides lists of notable events per year. See for example all that happened the year Wikipedia was born, 2001. Browsing the different years of someone's life, you can choose important events or people to add to your collection and make your custom book. It's a rather nice an interesting way of looking back at the years gone by. I am sure none of us remember the events that happened during our life quite in the same way.

Another idea is to make a book that gathers all the events that happened on the day the person was born. If we stick with Wikipedia, we could gather all the events that happened on January 15th across the years. This would range from the crowning of Elisabeth I in 1559 in Westminster Abbey to the launch of Soyuz 5 by the Soviet Union in 1969 to the landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in 2009. Quite an amazing scope in events.

Last, but not least, there are people who simply put together a book with the topics that interest the Birthday person, or have to do with their life. It is always difficult to buy the right book on the right topic, especially for someone who's interested in a lot of things. Wikipedia provides such a range of articles on every subject that it becomes fun to put together things that have no apparent link to each other except from the fact that they all have a link to one person. My Birthday book would probably gather such disparate subjects as Languages, American cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, Open Source and Photography, Carcassonne and Languedoc Roussillon to cite just a few. So topics range from what the person has studied to the places they were born, they have studied or spent their holidays to their hobbies and professional interests.

In the end, the great thing about Wikipedia and PediaPress in the "birthday context" is that they open a range of infinite possibilities to make a Birthday gift that your friends or family shall never forget, and to which they can go back anytime they want.


Time to Travel! Get Your Holidays Wiki Book

While following up on the books that have been ordered through our PediaPress website, I have been trying to keep a list of the great ideas people have. What are the books that people make for themselves? It's actually very interesting, because depending on the country of origin, the time of the year and Gutenberg knows what other deciding factor, the custom books we see go through our printing press have only one thing in common, they are really "tailored" to the customer. A few days ago, kleinski blogged (in German) about his first book. He put together a book to prepare his journey, starting (or ending, he's not sure yet) in Iceland. As he puts it
"And there's nothing better than to collect the stops on the planned travel route and to take, instead of seven travel guides, just one book - admittedly, not a guide, but full of information."
Winter in our Northern Hemisphere is way too grim not to think about the next holidays. You might know exactly what your next destination will be, or not. It might be around the corner, or halfway across the world, one thing is sure, there's a very good chance that Wikipedia has an article about your planned (or unplanned) destination. And who better than Wikipedia knows how to capture the specificity of a very particular place? Wikipedia offers detailled and knowledgeable information on a place, a country, a monument and... well, also roundabouts! Collecting articles in Wikipedia makes a travel guide of another nature. Imagine going through the Parisian metro and taking a peek at the ghost metro stations. Imagine visiting Metropolis, Illinois, while reading up on Metropolis, the fictional city. And walking across the "Morne plaine" of Waterloo, with the ability to recreate every one of Napoleon's moves does make the trip more exciting.
So start today, collect your articles with the book creator, and make your holiday trip unforgettable, by making sure you don't miss out on anything there is to see. Collect articles about a country, a region, or even a single city and its monuments. Whether for a three weeks holiday of for a week-end, you'll find all the info you need (and more) on Wikipedia. Make a book, get it printed , read it in the metro, the plane or in the warmth of your bed. And while you're at it, when you're there for real, be sure to take pictures to post on Wikipedia, so that the next traveller gets an even better feel for the journey.
So much for the Holidays Book, it's one of many ideas that I'll share with you in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!
Photo: Waterloo, Belgium, Lions' Hillock © Jean-Pol GRANDMONT , licence CC-BY-SA - Source: Wikimedia Commons


Hello 2010, What's Cooking on the Wiki Book Front?

So here we are, about two weeks within 2010. The beginning of this year has been quiet, but nonetheless interesting. As we've finally settled down after holidays, family parties and much eating (well, at least for me, France is famous for that right?), it is time to look back on 2009 and more important, to look ahead into 2010. It's a new decade after all, what does it have in store for us?
2009 brought us quiet but steady growth. We've worked on the software all year round, while more and more people have been putting together and designing their custom wiki books. Here are some figures that describe the year 2009.
  • we've made more than 2000 smaller and larger improvements to the open source code
  • the average number of pages in an ordered wiki book was 372
  • 73% of all orders originated from the German Wikipedia, 9% from the English Wikipedia
  • we shipped to 53 different countries. Our books went as far as Australia, India, Brazil, Uruguay, Côte d'Ivoire or Japan
We're thrilled to see that so many people across the world are interested in making wiki books. Geographical diversity was not the only one. The topics of the books made were also extremely varied. They ranged from "The Philosophy of Science" to "London for a Day" to "Beware of the Cuco! - Origins of Urban Legends and Other Folklores", in other words, from academic to personal to esoteric.
But what you liked most in 2009 was definitely the introduction of color covers. As shown in our little mosaic, color covers make for really personal books.
That was for 2009, 2010 will bring its new load of great improvements and cool changes.
In the next three months, we hope to make the Book creator open to all visitors of the English Wikipedia (and not only to logged in users). This will also prompt a refactoring of the Community Book Catalog. We want to produce the tools to make it more attractive so that the books put together by the Wikipedia Community are more visible for visitors. We are also working on a new version of our website, which will introduce many new possibilities.
  • You will be able to have a user account to store your custom books and follow up on your oders.
  • We will propose affiliate programs, which will allow you to become a partner of PediaPress via your website or wiki.
  • We will continue looking for local partners to ensure fast delivery in your country.
  • And, last but not least, we are planning to introduce the option of printing color contents, as well as hardbacks.
Many improvements which will make the PediaPress experience even more enjoyable and complete. We're looking forward to this new year and hope you will join us in making PediaPress your service of choice!