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The People’s EBook

A wildly succesful Kickstarter project promises a free, beautifully-simple tool to make e-books better.

“What the photocopier was to zines, we hope the People’s E-Book will be to digital books.” – Greg Albers

Working for TOC, I meet and talk to people from all over the world who are doing incredible things to transform the publishing industry. Sometimes I forget there are people right here in my own Arizona backyard doing some pretty cool things to transform publishing.

Greg Albers

Greg Albers

One such person is Greg Albers of Hol Art Books. Greg is the best kind of book person. He’s an art book person. He’s also prone to thinking outside the book box in big way, and his wildly successful “People’s E-Book” Kickstarter campaign aims to do just that.

We’ve seen publishing/book-related Kickstarter publishing campaigns aplenty, but most focus on a particular project – seeking funding for the making, promotion, and/or distribution on a specific title. Greg’s Kickstarter campaign, “The People’s E-Book” is about creating an ebook production app. One that is both super simple to use and free.

The details on how the app will work/what it will do can be found on the Kickstarter page, and it’s well worth taking a look. (nutshell: the people’s ebook app will output .epubs in as wysiwyg a way as possible). But to me the truly intriguing part of this project is beyond the details of hows and whats, it’s the why and for whom. As Greg states on the site:

The People’s E-Book seeks to be a lab, an incubator, an e-book creation platform for artists, authors, and alternative presses who want to try new things, publish new books, and push into new territories. The People’s E-Book will handle e-books of all sizes and scope, but it will excel in areas that no one else has cared to consider—the very small, the quick and dirty, the simple and the experimental.

The People’s E-Book is a tool that doesn’t account for what e-books are, but rather lets its users imagine what they can be.

This tool aims to be simple from the start, and that simplicity lowers the barrier in a whole new way. People who maybe didn’t think about themselves as authors can see themselves as authors. The community that Albers is courting is not authors or publishers – it’s everyone else.

What is possibly even better, while the tool is starting super simple, it will evolve based on the needs and desires of its users.  The People’s E-Book intends to encourage the community it serves to collaborate, experiment, and influence the tool’s evolution. Creators/artists/storytellers will be creating the tool based on how they want to tell their stories. That’s exciting stuff.

Working with Albers to develop this nifty ebook tool is the Present Group, developers who are devoted not only to creating tools of change, but enabling creators to create tools of change.

The People’s E-Book Kickstarter campaign ends tonight at midnight (Tucson time), so head over to the site and jump on the bandwagon while you still can. If all goes as planned, we can expect to see the first iteration of this cool ebook tool making an appearance in late Spring. And, I for one, am really looking forward to it.
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Comments: 4

  1. It looks beautiful and simple. Writing your book and then sharing it to independent reading platforms and services like dotdotdot.me , perfect.

    That´t how it has to be: Writing and publishing ebooks as easy as posting on a blog.

  2. This is an excellent idea, and there’s a need for open platforms for content publishing. It’s not unique, however, as there are existing projects that already offer open source EPUB creation platforms. Hugh McGuire has already launched Pressbooks.com as a freemium service and the Pressbooks code for WordPress Multiuser was recently released as open source. Sourcefabric.org offers Booktype Pro as a freemium service and the Booktype code is open source running on the Django web framework.

    The real question is will these projects gain enough traction to create a community and thrive? While the sponsor company teams can build and launch open source projects and fund them with Kickstarter and Freemium services, it takes more to build a “People’s” platform. It takes a global community of coders, testers, users, documentation volunteers, and helpful champions.

    Authors and publishers need something better than Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF documents being uploaded for conversion. Graphic Designers may like Adobe InDesign and other tools, but the licensing is costly, the workflow is flawed, and results are not good. XML is it’s own world at the enterprise level.

    I can’t wait to see what The People’s E-Book comes up with.

  3. Jutoh is not free but it is affordable and produces clean ePub and Mobi versions every time. At $39, Jutoh offers the author a good deal of control over eBooks and the opportunity to make further revisions if she knows a bit of CSS. So, I don’t think this Kickstarter campaign is needed. We have no way of knowing what it might offer that Jutoh does not. Julian Smart, the Jutoh developer, continuously updates the program in response to user requests; the manual is clear and written in plain English. 

  4. the people’s e-book will rock.

    and more free tools will follow.

    you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet…

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