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!


Dami said...

The new preview is pretty slick, yet I would still think that the number one feature request for it that I hear many times would be the ability to preview the whole book.

Otherwise, if one really wants to check that every article works, he hast to submit every article as a separate book. (The overall load on the servers and the clutter in the saved "Your books" section on the site might be bigger than the cost of generating the previews – especially if the later pages are only rendered on request.)

Delphine said...

Hi Dami,
Thanks for your feedback and sorry for the late answer. Here is the drill: While we understand how interesting it could be to have the preview show the whole book, there are technical hurdles that come into play. It's no so much the load on the servers as the time this would all take. Generating an average size book completely (say around 300 pages or so), as soon as it's a bit complex (depending on the content) takes at least an hour, and of course that time goes up for bigger and more complex books. As such, a full preview would make the experience of actually making a book rather longwinded for the average user, an hour is just too much time to wait for your book.

At this stage, we are not planning to offer full preview, although the ability to make sure that one's book is "working" is something we are keeping in mind and will integrate in the development of our user interface.