Following our major updates of last year – the user API, bookreader and integration of QR codes and short URLs bridging the physical/digital divide – we’ve been concentrating on using bookleteer in our own projects like Agencies of Engagement, Material Conditions, Professor Starling’s Thetford-London-Oxford Expedition and Pallion Ideas Exchange, helping others create their own eBooks and StoryCubes and generally getting on with the business of keeping things going through these tough times.
More recently we’ve had some time and space to think about what else bookleteer could do and how we might make some adjustments to improve its usefulness. Over the past month or so, these ideas have been gestating into actual plans, scenarios, requirements and site maps for our next round of upgrades and improvements. And these themselves follow the price drop for Short Run printing of A6 books, as well the new minimum eBook print run of just 25 copies, which we recently announced.
The first change we plan to implement will be to allow users to publicly share their eBooks and StoryCubes direct from bookleteer. Members of the public will, for the first time, be able to browse (without needing an account) library pages containing links to eBooks and StoryCubes which users have shared. We also hope to build in simple social media links to enable these pages to be tweeted or shared on Facebook. And sharing via bookreader will also be available to all members. In addition to this, and reflecting our own practice of publishing series of eBooks and StoryCubes, we plan to create Collections – a new way to organise own eBooks or StoryCubes into named and distinct series.
Making bookleteer Economically Sustainable
To keep bookleteer going we need to encourage more people to use the Short Run Printing Service service to print their eBooks and StoryCubes. Other than donations to the Alpha Club this is the only source of income to pay for our hosting, bandwidth, development and maintenance costs. As you may have heard, Proboscis no longer receives funding from Arts Council England so we are having to find sustainable sources of income for projects like bookleteer. If we can significantly drive uptake of the Short Run printing service, then we hope to sustain bookleteer as a platform indefinitely. To help people with ordering we’re already working on building in pricing estimation direct into the ordering page. This should make it much simpler to see print estimates when you are considering using the Short Run Printing service.
Pledge For Print
This leads on to the biggest and most exciting aspect of what we’re planning. A couple of years back I wrote a post speculating on how a crowdfunding marketplace within bookleteer could transform the way people create, print and share their publications. We have been working on a model for such a concept – allowing users to offer Collections of eBooks or StoryCubes for others to “Pledge For Print“. We won’t be handling financial transactions to begin with, simply creating a mechanism for users who want to print an edition of 1 more more eBooks or StoryCubes (in a Collection) to know that there are people out there who will pledge to buy a copy from them once its printed. Ultimately we would aim to build in a full crowdfunding-type system, accepting pledges and automating the process of collecting donations once the pledge target has been reached to trigger the print run & shipping. Its a huge project for us – but we think it will transform bookleteer and publishing on demand in the process.
Community Support is Vital
To fund the development we’re hoping to entice more friends, fellow travellers and supporters to donate and join the Alpha Club and take an active part in the developing ‘community’ of bookleteers. We’re also aiming to attract a main sponsor for bookleteer – a company or organisation which shares our values and ethos of creating Public Goods and enabling people to make and share hybrid physical/digital stuff. If you also think what we’re planning could be the next best thing since sliced bread – please donate today!
And do please get in touch with your feedback, comments and suggestions.