pitch up & publish

Report Back on PU&P 10: Augmented Reading

Pitch Up Publish 10: Augmented Reading took place last Thursday and thanks to our excellent participants I had a fantastic afternoon. Alan Chamberlain from Mixed Reality Lab, David Crowley and Jeremy Millar from the RCA, James Bridle and Josh, Rob and Fabia from getmorelocal were knowledgable, inspiring, provocative and entertaining and I ended the afternoon with more questions than answers and hope that we can get together for another attempt to unravel the potential of augmented reading in the future!

Plenty of arm waving during discussions – got to be a good sign!

Each of the participants had their own take on what counts as augmented reading and it was great that this covered online and offline, technological and no-tech concepts. Discussions around questions of whether augmenting written text with audio, video or intereactive content augments or diminishes the reading experience, what role do books-as-objects play in our life as we move towards electronic readers and iPhone apps and how much we can expect readers to construct their own reading experience were fascinating and opened up new ways for me to think about books, their place in our lives and authoring and reading.

Getting hands-on and exploring augmented reading through a bookleteer project that combined eBooks, StoryCubes, Second Life and QR codes

One of the most interesting conversations for me was hearing everyone’s ideas about the bookleteer eBooks and StoryCubes and how these might be used to augment the creation, reading and symbolism of books and text. We talked a lot about collaborative construction of stories and text especially how the StoryCubes hide some stories at the same time as they allow you to reveal others and considered how bookleteer might allow groups to collaboratively produce eBooks. This was such an intriguing question that we’re currently trying to figure it out as we collaborate with the Augmented Reading participants to produce an eBook of our cumulative notes. I’ll let you know how it turns out..¬†

Stripes rule! But checks are pretty cool too..

(All photos by Karine and Shalene – good work girls!)

publishing on demand

Crowdfunded Publishing with bookleteer : a concept

Here at Proboscis we are very excited by the quality of the new PPOD service we’re offering users of bookleteer, but we also recognise that there are still economic barriers to people wanting to break into publishing their own eBooks & StoryCubes. Despite our ground-breaking service offering low-run printing (from only 50 copies per title, much lower than the industry standard of 500 or 1,000 copies) this still requires bookleteers to pay up front for printed versions of their eBooks & StoryCubes. Our aim is to open up publishing with bookleteer by removing as many of the traditional barriers as possible.

With bookleteer you can currently create shareable eBooks and StoryCubes that you can send or allow people to download anywhere in the world at no cost; you can also have high quality professionally printed & bound versions made. Our pricing for this has been set to make it as affordable as possible, so that users can sell on their printed eBooks/StoryCubes and add their own profit margin. But, for many people, the cost of printing even just 50 copies might be more than they can afford or justify on the basis of anticipated (or hoped for) future sales.

In trying to resolve the puzzle of how to allow people to use bookleteer not just to create things which they pay for, but which also allows them to earn money from their creativity, we’re now researching a concept for a crowdfunded marketplace. What we’d like to implement in the future (possibly in the beta version later this year) would be a bookleteer marketplace where the users can submit their eBooks and StoryCubes (either individually or a series / collections). We imagine that the user will set the retail price of the publication, add an ISBN number (if they have one) and set a target number of sales to be achieved before the publication will be printed via our PPOD service.

The marketplace would be public for anyone to browse and, using some kind of crowdfunding platform, pledge to buy a copy or copies of the eBooks/StoryCubes. Payments from buyers would be held in escrow until the sales threshold is reached and the printing and shipping of the publication triggered. At that point we would transfer the creator’s share of the sales to them (minus our printing & shipping costs). If there aren’t enough pledges within a given time frame to trigger the printing, then the buyer’s money would be returned to them. This approach, also called threshold pledging, would reduce the risk to both creator and buyer.

We are just at the very beginning of developing this concept and its going to require more resources and expertise than are currently available to us to actually turn into a reality – however we would really like to know what other people think of this. We’d love to hear from anyone with experience in building crowdfunding systems or using crowdfunding platforms to see if this is possible and what the average ratios are of successful to unsuccessful targets being reached.

We’d like to think that this idea could make it possible for anyone to be able to create a publication and have it professionally printed and bound without having to find the money to do so up front. With bookleteer they would be able to make the Diffusion eBook PDFs available for people to make their own handmade versions, then choose to buy the PPOD version (thereby economically supporting the creator). In this way we could create a whole new generation of publishers, crossing economic as well as cultural divides, allowing more people to find different ways of sharing their ideas, stories, knowledge, artworks – whatever they value and wish to share.


StoryCube Cameras

Without seeing my post on Thomas Hudson Reeve and his paper cameras, Niharika suggested we try to turn StoryCubes into pinhole cameras. When we mentioned this to Giles we discovered that a project he had commissioned by Tina Keane for Coil Journal of the Moving Image had involved pinhole cameras and there were still a few unused ones around. So we began…

We improvised with the bathroom at Proboscis as a darkroom and a packet of sun-print paper from the Tate Gallery Shop standing in for proper photographic paper. This paper seems to be intended to be used for photograms but we thought we’d see how it worked in the pinhole camera.

Setting up the first experiment

For our first experiment we aimed the cube camera at the Clerkenwell skyline. We opened the lens, waited for five minutes then went inside to develop our picture. We were rewarded with a beautiful piece of blue paper.. NOTHING had made it onto the paper!

The second experiment and a photogram of scissors

While we tried pinhole experiment 2 turning our camera on an apple (hey, if it’s good enough for Isaac Newton..!) we also set up a photogram trial with a scrap of paper to give us an idea of exposure times. The photogram turned out pretty well, we left the camera for another 5 minutes after developing the photogram and got.. another piece of blue paper.

Our output: some keys, half a spoon, a pair of scissors and two squares of blue paper..


Pop-up Progress

My pop-up pig picture inserted into an eBook

As you can see from these pictures I’ve started playing around with fitting my individual pop-up pictures into the more linear procedure of a book. I’ve used the quite unimaginative title of A Walk in the Country to provide a narrative to the pictures.

Butterfly and Tree pop-up pictures in the eBook

The photos above are of my original pop-ups pictures from here glued into a blank eBook as I experimented with size, position and story. The photographs below show my first attempts to convert this into a shareable eBook that you will be able to download and make-up for yourselves. In fact, two or maybe even three eBooks will be needed to make one pop-up eBook.

The first eBook has the bases of the pop-ups printed directly onto the pages – you can see this below. The second eBook will contain the pop-up figures. These will need to be cut-out and stuck to the pop-up bases. Instructions on how to do this will either be in the eBook with the pop-up figures, or possibly in a separate eBook¬† depending on how many instructions are required. Currently I’m trying to think of how to make this whole process as straightforward as possible.

Base for the Butterfly pop-up and Birdhouse pop-up printed as an eBook with cut-out butterfly and bird figures

I’m also mulling over how much narrative to add to the eBook. Leaving the pages without text would allow you to write your own story around the pop-up pictures and I like this idea very much. Another option is to colour the pop-ups and the eBook pages then scan these pages in so people can download and make-up a complete ready illustrated pop-up eBook. Or maybe I’ll offer both options..


Prototyping Pop-up eBooks

My tests for making a pop-up eBook.

Inspired by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhardt (who I wrote about here) I’ve been working on making a pop-up eBook. I chose the loose theme of ‘A walk in the country’ and selected pop-ups from Robert Sabuda’s website to fit this concept. All of the pop-ups are labelled ‘easy’ except for the pig where I tried out an intermediate level design (woo!). And they really were easy to make. The base and the figures are provided for you to print out and then step-by-step instructions are given with photographs to guide you through the making up process. It would be difficult to go wrong!

At the moment the pop-ups exist as individual pages and my next step is to fit them into the eBook format. Because of the way that eBooks sequence the pages I will need to cut the bases in two so that they span the whole width of the eBook when it’s open.I’m planning it as two eBooks to download, one will have the bases and one the figures. Cutting the figures out of book 2 and adding to the bases in book 1 will complete the pop-up. Keep reading the bookleteer blog to find out how I get on!