news publishing on demand updates & improvements

bookleteer API

Just before Christmas we implemented a major new feature on bookleteer – an API (application programming interface) enabling eBooks and StoryCubes to be generated by users direct from their own web applications and stored in or downloaded from their bookleteer accounts.

Realising Tangible Souvenirs
This has been a long-cherished ambition for us – harking back to plans we made for linking the earlier Diffusion Generator to our Urban Tapestries public authoring and mapping platform in 2004 – where we imagined people being able to select or collate material on Urban Tapestries by theme or around a geographic place and outputting it in different paper formats (Diffusion eBooks, postcards and posters). This was the origin of our concept for creating tangible souvenirs from digital experiences – bridging different media (online/offline, digital/analogue) with the different capabilities that people have. Our experiences of working with local communities in social housing and other contexts showed us how important it is not just to be able to share things in many ways, but to tailor a range of modes of interaction to the capabilities and capacities of the people who had the knowledge and experience to share, but not necessarily the familiarity with web and mobile technologies to be engaged by the opportunities we saw them offering.

We’ve continued to develop our tangible souvenir concept through other projects – such as the Sensory Threads prototype – but the bookleteer API now represents a crucial milestone for us in building the links between our earlier work on public authoring and media scavenging and the current ecosystem of web technologies and public/open data initiatives. We hope to see lots of exciting ideas building on the first experiments – bookcubes – we commissioned from James Bridle last spring. Look out too for some forthcoming experiments by Simon Pope & Gordon Joly.

Accessing the API
Access to the API is limited for the time being to Alpha Club members and guest testers whilst we put it through its paces and explore how it can be used (our resources are rather limited for supporting it). We’re hoping to organise some events in 2011 where people can come along and explore what they might do with the API. In the meantime, if you’re taking part in Culture Hack Day this weekend (January 15th & 16th) then you can ask to test it out using the special account we’ve created for participants (ask the organisers for access details on the day).

If you do have an exciting idea for mashing up the bookleteer API with your own web service or public data please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and see how we can help.

updates & improvements

Recent Updates and Changes

bookleteer members will have noticed a few changes to the site in September and October as we’ve pushed through a series of updates, changes and fixes to the platform. Here’s a quick run down of the most important of these from a member’s perspective, since many more were ‘under the hood’.

First Time eBook & StoryCube Generation
We’ve streamlined the process of generating eBooks and StoryCubes by making the initial button on the Create pages into ‘Upload & Generate PDFs’.

eBook & StoryCube PDF Thumbnails
This week we’ve implemented a change to replace the generic PDF icon with actual thumbnails of each PDF’s first sheet. This is designed to make it easier to distinguish different publications when shown in lists (such as the Inspirations or My Publications pages) and to give a quick preview once your eBooks and StoryCubes have been generated.

My Publications Page
Inspirations Page

Adding Images, PDFs & My Gallery
We have completely changed the way images and PDFs are added to eBooks and StoryCubes – there are now three ways to add an image :

  • upload a file from your computer
  • enter a URL for an image already online (for instance on Flickr)
  • browse through your gallery and use an image already uploaded
  • Create eBook Upload image from computer
    Create eBook Page Insert Image from URL
    Create eBook Page Add image from gallery
    Create StoryCube Upload image from computer
    Create StoryCube Page Insert image from URL
    Create StoryCube Page Insert image from gallery

    PDFs can also be chosen by either uploading a new file from your computer or selecting from a previously uploaded file in your gallery.

    Create eBook Page Upload PDF
    Create eBook Insert PDF from gallery
    Create StoryCube Upload PDF from computer
    Create StoryCube Insert PDF from gallery

    Members can use the My Gallery page to review (and delete if necessary) any image files or PDFs in their account.

    My Gallery Page

    Facebook Integration
    Lastly, for those of you who use facebook, we’ve integrated bookleteer’s login so that you can automatically login to bookleteer when you are also logged in to facebook.

    news updates & improvements

    scheduled maintenance and new features

    bookleteer will be offline for a few hours today as we do some scheduled maintenance and introduce some new features (the new image and content PDF gallery plus some other small tweaks). We’ll post more info about the changes when the site’s back online later today.

    *** Update 18.30 : its taking us longer than anticipated mainly due to the production team working across several different timezones (UK, Australia, California!), but we hope be back in service around midnight BST.

    *** Update 22.35 : we’re back – we hope you enjoy the new gallery feature and ability to add images to eBooks and StoryCube from URLs, new uploads and images already uploaded. We’re also introducing Facebook integration as the first stage of making bookleteer work better with other platforms.

    news updates & improvements

    A Glance Ahead

    Recently we’ve been tweaking things under the hood of bookleteer and planning the transition to a public beta version (hopefully later this year). I thought I’d give a brief outline of some of the improvements we’re planning to introduce soon and a look ahead to how we’ll shape bookleteer in the future.

    Forthcoming Updates & Tweaks
    In the next couple of weeks we’ll be deploying an update that will provide an image and file gallery to allow users to better manage their images and source PDF files. Images used frequently on different publications (such as logos or Creative Commons graphics) will only need be uploaded once. It will also allow users to link directly to images on their own websites or services such as Flickr (via a URL). We think this will streamline how images are used and make using bookleteer more intuitive and personal at the same time.

    Users will have noticed some smaller changes recently : links on the dashboard to our Facebook page and activity there; a gallery of images tagged with “bookleteer” on Flickr and a feed of the latest free-to-download eBooks & StoryCubes to be posted on We’re hoping more users will use the facebook page to share their experiences and use the “bookleteer” tag to post photos of their own eBooks and StoryCubes.

    Public Beta
    This will be a major upgrade to bookleteer and enable some very exciting new ways for users to create eBooks & StoryCubes, both individually and collaboratively. We’re planning to introduce a premium paid-for account with some exclusive services :
    – creating groups of other bookleteers and sharing collaborative editing privileges for eBooks & StoryCubes
    – access to a bookleteer API to allow eBooks & StoryCubes to be generated from their own applications and stored in their user accounts
    – a ‘scrapbook’ app for mobiles (iPhone/iPad/Android) allowing users to send bookleteer text and images from their mobile devices to generate eBooks & StoryCubes

    Free users will continue to be able to create eBooks & StoryCubes of their own (though limited to a smaller number of ‘active’ publications and server space than premium users) and to order PPOD versions.

    We’re also looking into other features and greater integration with social media platforms like Facebook & Flickr, as well as improving the interface design (whilst striving to keep it simple and elegant).

    Alpha Club PPOD Discounts
    Lastly we’ve added some new discounts on PPOD orders for Alpha Club Members – we’d like to sign up more members to help us fund the development of bookleteer as we are way off our fundraising target : if you like using bookleteer, please contribute if you can.

    help & guides updates & improvements

    Updated help page

    We’ve updated the help page to reflect questions arising from the new features and services we introduced last week. Please refer to it for information on the differences between designs, page sizes, image dimensions and ordering. Do please give us feedback (via this blog, our twitter account or by email) if you have further questions or queries.

    updates & improvements

    Guide to new features

    What Design Should I Choose?
    Proboscis have created 2 different eBook designs which you can choose from, both of which are available for A4/US and A3/Ledger sizes.
    Basic is a simple book design which places the title, author, a cover image and a logo image on the front cover. The eBook title, author, credits and secondary logo are placed on the back cover.
    Custom Cover allows users to design their own front cover and upload it as a JPG image. The eBook title, author, credits and both logo images are placed on the back cover.

    What are the page dimension for the different sizes?
    – A4/US Letter eBook Portrait : 88mm by 133mm
    – A4/US Letter eBook Landscape : 133mm by 88mm
    – A4 StoryCube : 55mm by 55mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Portrait : 130mm by 193mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Landscape : 193mm by 130mm
    – A3 StoryCube : 82mm by 82mm

    Where can I download the content templates?
    Proboscis have created some simple empty page templates for MS Word, OpenOffice and Adobe InDesign which can be downloaded here.

    What dimensions should my cover image be?
    Images should be saved as JPGs or PNGs at a minimum resolution of 72dpi at exact size or greater. For best results 150dpi is recommended.
    Basic Design
    – A4/US Letter eBook Portrait : 65mm by 90mm
    – A4/US Letter eBook Landscape : 90mm by 65mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Portrait : 90mm by 135mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Landscape : 135mm by 90mm
    Custom Cover Designs
    – A4/US Letter eBook Portrait : 88mm by 133mm
    – A4/US Letter eBook Landscape : 133mm by 88mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Portrait : 130mm by 193mm
    – A3/Ledger eBook Landscape : 193mm by 130mm

    What can I use the Logo images for?
    The ‘Logo’ spaces allow users to add one or more logos to the covers of their eBooks. The Main Logo could, for instance, be the logo of the ‘publisher’ or author and the Secondary Logo might be used for credits, such as acknowledging sponsors/funders or for placing a Creative Commons-type image. However, they can also be used just as spaces for images on the front/back covers.

    What happens when I order some POD eBooks or StoryCubes?
    When you confirm your order an email is sent to Proboscis where one of us will calculate the cost and send you an invoice via Paypal. Once we receive payment we will send your item(s) to press and aim to have the finished products in your hands within 7 working days. StoryCubes will be printed on a regular basis – check here or on twitter for details of the next printing deadline.
    The ordering system is very hands-on whilst we’re still developing the alpha version of bookleteer – please bear with us and forgive its manual shortcomings!

    updates & improvements

    Updates & New Designs

    We are just finishing tweaks to the latest set of updates and improvements to bookleteer and will be integrating them into the live server over the next 24 hours : there may be some disruption to the service whilst we do this.

    We’re very excited by what’s in store, it’s a big step forward in both the usefulness and ease of use of bookleter :

      • new sizes : A3 & Ledger sizes will allow users to create larger eBooks and StoryCubes

      • new designs : the new ‘Custom Cover’ design allows users to create their own customised cover design and upload as an image

      • PPOD ordering system now integrated – users can order A6 or A5 eBooks, and StoryCubes from A4 or A3 sheets

      • new user dashboard showing most recent publications and orders

    More details once everything’s up and running.

    help & guides updates & improvements

    New videos on folding/making Diffusion eBooks

    We’ve recently posted some new videos demonstrating how to fold, cut and make up the 4 different types of Diffusion eBooks that can be made using bookleteer:

    How to make: Book Landscape Diffusion eBook from Proboscis on Vimeo.

    How to make: Book Portrait Diffusion eBook from Proboscis on Vimeo.

    How to make: Classic Landscape Diffusion eBook from Proboscis on Vimeo.

    How to make: Classic Portrait Diffusion eBook from Proboscis on Vimeo.

    publishing on demand

    Print On Demand eBooks arrive!

    Our first batch of POD eBooks arrived and we’re very, very pleased with the results:

    We’ll be sending out some samples to various friends, colleagues and bookleteers, meanwhile we will start accepting orders for POD eBooks & StoryCubes from April 12th. See the prior post on POD for our initial prices.

    publishing on demand updates & improvements

    Print On Demand with bookleteer

    Last week we passed another significant milestone for bookleteer – integrating a new set of templates that automatically render each eBook into a Print On Demand (POD) version. We’re sending the first 12 samples to be digitally printed as full colour A6 saddle-stitched booklets today and will post up some photos as soon as we get them back.

    We’re also announcing our initial prices for the POD service (see below) which we hope will meet with approval. There are two POD options for eBooks, with a minimum print run of 50 copies :
    Option A – for eBooks between 12 – 24 pages and,
    Option B – for eBooks between 28 – 40 pages.

    Option A prices start from around £3 per copy and go down to £1.61 per copy.
    Option B prices start from around £4 per copy and go down to £2.29 per copy.
    All prices include shipping within the UK. Please contact us for enquiries about larger quantities and overseas shipping. Turnaround time is expected to be 5-7 working days.

    The StoryCube POD service has a minimum print run of 200 full colour cubes (single or double-sided), which can made up up of one or more StoryCube designs. Prices include VAT and shipping within the UK. Please contact us for enquiries about larger quantities and overseas shipping. Turnaround time is 5-7 working days.

    Get in touch if you’d like to know more – we aim to start accepting POD orders after Easter.