Custom Prefaces for Your Books

Starting today you can add a custom preface to your book. All you have to do is to navigate to our shiny new tab (aptly named "preface") after uploading your collection to PediaPress. There you can get your creative juices flowing and start writing.

Personalize your book with a custom preface!
The preface will appear at the beginning of your book. There is no limit on the amount of content that you can put into the preface. The price for your book will be adjusted by the estimated number of pages that you entered (by 4 cents per page).

You can check out the appearance of your preface in the book preview which will be automatically updated as soon as you edit the title or content field. You are free to use basic MediaWiki Markup to enhance the layout.

We consider the preface to be a part of the content of your book and use Arabic numerals (1,2,3,…) to count the pages. Only the table of contents will be numbered with Roman numerals (I, II, III, …). The chapter or article following the preface will always begin on a right (recto) page to distinguish it clearly from the previous section. This means that your book will always grow by at least two pages when you create a preface.

To remove the preface you have to clear both the title and the content field. You could use this for creating personalized gifts: Just create a headline and leave the content blank. This will basically create two (almost) blank pages. You can use these pages to insert a personal note or a dedication in your own handwriting.

Custom prefaces have been a "most wanted" feature both in surveys and helpdesk requests and we are glad that we are finally able to provide this new feature. How do you like it?


Collection Extension in Hebrew Wikipedia

Greetings from PediaPress to all Wikipedians who are currently attending Wikimania in Haifa.
Just-in-time for the beginning of the conference we are very happy to announce that the collection extension is now available in the Hebrew Wikipedia. This means that if you are fluent in the language of Canaan, you can now start collecting articles.
Right-to-left (RTL) writing really gave us some headaches and so far, only the PDF export works. A big thank you goes to all the local volunteers who reported bugs and helped us goyim understand what was going wrong.


New page layout for the Book Setup page

This week we updated pediapress.com with a revised layout for the book setup page.

We decided to change the page because we felt that the previous design was suffering from a messy layout and lack of structure - especially since we introduced the product options for hardcover and color last fall.

The new design introduces tabs as a navigational aide:
  • Both tabs contain a preview for the cover image.
  • The first tab contains only the editor, title and subtitle.
  • The second tab sports a fancy color theme selector. Moreover, you can access all cover images without horizontal scrolling.

We worked on pretty much all elements of the page, but let me pick a few highlights:

  • We used CSS3 effects for some progressive enhancements - the design for the tabs and the submit button are pure CSS.
  • The previous color theme showed only one color - the background. The new one is designed like a small wireframe and gives you an impression of the color mix for the cover.
  • The image selector shows the background of the currently selected color theme. That way you can identify even before clicking on an image, if it’s colors match the current theme.
  • We reduced the text quite a bit to make the interactions clearer and worked on the flow of the page. For an example, take a look at the price and product options:

In the old version, the price information came first with a very prominent “Add-to-Cart” button at the top. In the new version, we turned things upside down and put the price and the button at the bottom. That way, your eye can just follow a familiar path along the calculation and you don’t have to look up and down to see the effect of your clicks.

The setup page has always been a challenge for us. We hope these layout changes make this page more fun and easier to use. Now upload a book, check out the new setup page yourself and tell us what you think. We would love to hear your feedback about the new design.


Personnel changes at PediaPress

Eva-Maria Biedenbach
Eva-Maria Biedenbach and Johannes Beigel have left PediaPress in order to pursue new challenges. We would like to thank both of them for their hard work and wish them all the best for their future and much success.

We are pleased to welcome Christoph Kepper as a new team member. Chris accompanied our company for many years as chairman of the supervisory board of our parent company, brainbot technologies. He will predominantly focus on marketing and sales.


Wikipedia Books On Medicine: A Doctor's Approach

Two days ago, the Journal of Medical Internet Research published a paper reviewing studies quality of Medicine articles on Wikipedia, and urging the medical community to contribute to the online encyclopedia (see Wikipedia: A Key Tool for Global Public Health Promotion). We have been noticing for some time that there is a high number of people actually producing books with Wikipedia content on the subject of medicine. So we dug a little further and asked some of those editors to give us their insight as to why and how they use the book tool in Wikipedia to produce offline material, focusing on medicine, but also on many other topics.

Our first respondent is John D. Current, M.D., Professor of Anesthesiology and Director, SRNA Clinical Program, who tells about his experience with PediaPress and the book tool. He made a book on the topic of "Physics Related to Anesthesia" which he distributed as reading material to his students for a lecture he was giving. Here are his answers to our interview.

PediaPress: How did You get to know PediaPress and its service?

John Current: I have been a contributor to Wikipedia, which necessitated frequent visits to their website. They prominently displayed the availability of the PediaPress services. When I had the need to print some course materials for my lectures I gave PediaPress a try.

PP: What was the first book You created?

JC: My first book on PediaPress was "Physics Related to Anesthesia." I was giving a lecture on this subject to a group of anesthesiology residents and medical students. In preparation, I sought material to help improve their background in physics and found that many of the Wikipedia articles were quite relevant, so I compiled this material in book form for their benefit.

PP: You have ordered, among others, your book "Physics Related to Anesthesia" 29 times and created a great series on "Pharmacology for Anesthetists". Do you feel that the quality of Wikipedia articles is good in that topic?

JC: I felt the quality of the physics articles were quite excellent. I have received many favorable comments about that material. I consider the PDF's to be quite beautiful.

PP: Are there any other topics in Wikipedia you would consider making books about?

JC: Yes, I have several interests that may result in books. I consider the articles in Wikipedia on combat aircraft to be particularly outstanding. I have edited a book on the topic "American Warplanes of World War II" , which turned out very well and I bought to give as Christmas gifts to my friends with similar interests.

PP: Are the books You created for you? For others? How do you (plan to) use the books (in what context?)

JC: Most of the books I'm compiling are meant as supplements to my lectures on anesthesiology given to anesthesiology residents, medical students and nurses in training. My philosophy is that college and medical textbooks are too expensive and I desire to make materials available to the students as cheaply as possible. I see collaborative efforts like Wikipedia to be a potential route to more inexpensive course materials.

PP: How do other people react to the books you create?

JC: I have received nothing but favorable comments from my students and colleagues. Most remark about the quality of the printing and the overall appearance of the books.

PP: Is there anything that you wish PediaPress would offer on top of the actual service proposed?

JC: I would like to be able to place additional material into these books to supplement the materials I am able to glean from Wikipedia. I would also like to be able to revise my books in the PediaPress catalog to at least correct typographical and other errors. Thanks for providing a valuable service.

We also asked Dr. Reinhard G. Runkel, Chief medical Anesthesiologist in Germany as well as a writer and editor of medical textbooks, to answer our interview [1]. He has made books about Medicine, but also other topics, and would have many ideas to create books in a format that would fit in a lab's coat pocket. An idea to pursue?

PediaPress: How did You get to know PediaPress and its service?

Dr Reinhard Runkel: I found out through the Wikipedia Main Page.

PP: Which was the first book you created?

RR: Hygiene im Krankenhaus - ein Kompendium (Hygiene in the hospital - A Compendium)

PP: You have ordered more than 40 Books through the PediaPress service. Among them books about Football, Politics and Economics, and Medicine. Do you feel that the quality of Wikipedia articles is good in those topics?

RR: Absolutely – where I doubt competence, I sort out. Otherwise, I add facts with the help of scientific citations.

PP: Are there any other topics in Wikipedia you would consider making books about?

RR: A whole lot - there is not limit put on creativity. I get suggestions from colleagues and friends.

PP: Are the books You created for You? For others? How do you (plan to) use the books (in what context?)

RR: 1) as reference books for myself and my colleagues (Medicine)

2) as surprise/present for friends, whose interests I know or could find out about.

PP: How do other people react to the books you create?

RR: "Where do you find the time?" is the question I hear most often. The effort is actually not so much of an effort. On the contrary, I have a lot of fun putting the books together and I learn a whole lot while doing so, especially with the English texts.

PP: Is there anything that you wish PediaPress would offer on top of the actual service proposed?

RR: The layout is great, hard covers and color content are an option that turned out very well. I would find it great to have a book format that fits in a lab coat's pocket (125x97mm), with smaller font size. I'd come up with many ideas for this format.

A big thank you to both Dr Current and Dr Runkel, it is always extremely interesting to get insight about how Wikipedia material can be used and distributed offline. If you have a Wikipedia book experience you would like to share, don't hesitate to contact us to tell it!

[1] note: the interview was conducted in German and translated into English


Jimmy Wales gives away Wikipedia books

It has been the greatest job for PediaPress so far: printing 350 Wikipedia books for the Gottlieb-Duttweiler-Award 2011. Jimmy Wales, this year's laureate, decided to give away Wikipedia books to the invited guests. The book contains a selection of Wikipedia articles around the topic of Duttweiler and Wikipedia and a personal foreword by Wales himself.

Jimmy Wales signs Wikipedia books

The Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute honors Jimmy Wales for “his merits of democratizing the access to knowledge”. With Wikipedia, world's largest Online-Encyclopaedia, the corner stone for free knowledge is set – but only in countries who have internet access. By giving away Wikipedia books, Wales indicates that the free knowledge should also be promoted in countries with little or no internet access.

PediaPress happily agreed to produce 350 hardcover books entitled “Gottlieb Duttweiler Award 2011”. The books have been shipped to Rüschlikon, Switzerland and will be handed out during the ceremony.

Image sources: © Thomas Entzeroth, http://www.entzeroth.ch/


It's 2011! What Book Best Illustrates This Past Decade?

So we've made it. We've made it through the holidays, and as soon as we looked up again, there was a New Year. A brand new year waiting for us to change everything or nothing, to have fun and work hard, to cry and laugh. In short, a New Year hopefully full of promises for all. At the end of a year, I always end up looking back and trying to remember what was bad, what was good in the year before. What were the memorable moments and the turning points. With 2010 ending, it's not only a year that ends, but the first decade of a century. How time flies...

We looked back at the year 2010 and tried to see what happened at PediaPress. Wow. New people joined the team, the rendering software kept getting better, we implemented hard covers and color content, and of course, the number of Wikipedia articles to choose from to make custom books kept increasing, making PediaPress wiki books ever more interesting. And then we decided to look at the world around us (yes, there is a world beside work!) and wondered what had made this last year, and even this last decade, special.

We all had different ideas and memories of the 10 years past. It's actually quite an interesting exercise to look back and see what people remember, or don't for that matter. So we made a book. Our book is quite an exhaustive one, albeit a simple one - we just put together all the "month articles" from Wikipedia in a book. Well two actually, since so much happened that it only fits in two volumes.

So we've done ours, but we'd like to know what you remember of the last year, and of the last decade. We thought we'd throw a little memory contest out there, to see what you will come up with.

Rules are very simple:

Make your own book about what you think was important in 2010, or in the last decade (2000-2010). Any focus is allowed. It can be "The Craziest Moments of The Last Decade", "The Most Influential People At The Turn Of The Century" or "The Year 2010 Coolest Cars". Whatever was important to you, what you found interesting, what you'd like to keep in your library to show your kids, grand-kids or just your friends in ten years time to say "this is what I remember of those years".

Only one condition: The book can't exceed 800 pages (yes, I know, we've cheated our own rules with our book, but then, we make the rules, so there!) - that is one volume. Make a cool cover, and link it from our Facebook page or in the comments of this blog post [1]. We're curious to see what you will come up with. You have time until the end of the month to show off your best book. We'll choose the coolest books and the coolest get a copy for free.

So go for it, start the book creator and show us what we've missed in this crazy last decade and last year. Ready? Go!

Oh, I almost forgot! HAPPY NEW YEAR! May 2011 bring you lots of pages full of thoughts, facts and free knowledge, as well as health, fun and laughter. :)

[1] Edit made following the comment of Anonymous :)