Archive
  • Pwned, 0wnz0red, punkd by DRM
    With all my recent ranting about Digital Rights Management (DRM), I thought I should post some of the reasons for the unrest. Then I came across BoingBoing‘s Cory Doctorow advertising the course he’ll be teaching at UCLA this semester. It’s called “Pwned: Is everyone on this campus a copyright criminal?” and the course description sums up the potential dangers of DRM better than I would: Every garden has a snake: computers aren’t just tools for empowering their owners. They’re also tools for stripping users of agency, for controlling us individually and en masse. It starts with “Digital Rights Management” ...
  • Open Standards
    My recent post on Adobe’s Acrobat-disguised-as-an-eReader Digital Editions software drew a response from m’learned friends over at Mobileread. Alexander Turcic pointed out that DE doesn’t only support PDFs, but also the forthcoming Open eBook Publication Structure (OEBPS), a new standard for content creators and consumers – about which the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) has just published a press release. The new standard also includes a container standard for packaging ebooks (the Open eBook Publication Structure Container Format, or OCF), and is intended to make it easier and cheaper for all concerned. The IDPF and the OEBPS have ...
  • Future of the Page
    Fascinating review of (the not terribly new) The Future of the Page, edited by Peter Stoicheff and Andrew Taylor, over at Blogcritics.com. Immediately, we confront the first puzzle not directly discussed within the book, but nevertheless obvious the instant we pick it up in our hands. This book is palpable. It is larger than a paperback. It is filled with illustrations. In fact, one chapter is printed on glossy paper. Why a book? Why not a website? Why not a collection of web pages? … It may simply be the case that 500 years of entrenched reading habits ...
  • Papering over the cracks
    Whenever I try to tell people how the traditional book is on the way out and we’ll all be reading very differently a lot sooner than people think, the standard response is that people like traditional books, they like the look and feel, and nothing will ever substitute for that. Well, sorry, but it will. I believe that a majority of people will switch to reading ebooks very quickly once the technology closes the look and feel gap between trad books and eReaders. And one of the key advances in this is electronic paper: a neutrally coloured, flicker- and glow-free ...
  • Adobe Digital Editions: Disappointing
    Adobe have just dropped the first fruit of their takeover of Macromedia – and it’s book-related. New eReader technology Adobe Digital Editions is a Flash-based Rich Internet Application – that is, it takes all of the online benefits of connectivity and streams them through a pleasant, pervasive interface that lets you interact with things rather than just look at them. Supposedly. The most impressive thing about it is undoubtedly how easy it is to install and play with. Go have a try over at Adobe Labs. There are plenty of free sample books available there too. Once launched, it becomes ...
  • The mighty river
    Another week, another interesting piece in the Times, which claims e-retailing, with Amazon.co.uk as its core exponent, is growing by 25-30% per year, expecting to make out at £10.3 billion when eBay, Tesco and the rest are all counted up. This is balanced by the slightly bizarre claim that “the market share of internet retailing [could be capped] at about 10%,” due to concerns about “after-sales service, a high rate of product return, and the pressure to make websites a more exciting experience for consumers.” In fact, these concerns (the first two at least) only really apply to electrical ...
  • Exquisite Corpus & Infinite Entries
    I was recently re-reading my Masters dissertation, a rather inept analysis of the abstract classification problem: how to computationally document and classify not only the content of, say, images but also their emotional appeal and resonance. The problem was, unbeknownst to me, being solved or at least massively advanced by ad hoc systems such as tagging and folksonomies even as I wrote it. However, much of the paper was also concerned with the encoding of stories: how narrative, and the conditions that are required to make such a thing not only logically consistent but interesting, can be recorded on a ...
  • Digital Print World
    Our spy at the recent Digital Print World expo at London’s Earl’s Court reports that Canon was displaying a new set-up they call “One Book” – a digital printer combined with a perfect binding machine. The system requires the addition of a separate colour/litho printer for the covers, which are then fed into main set-up, but this doesn’t sound too difficult to automate, and can deliver about ten copies an hour according to our souce. Also quoted is a report in Print Week magazine about a different printer which combines all these steps, and is being touted as a ‘coffee ...
  • eReader round-up
    Following our extended coverage of the Sony eReader, I thought we should point towards a few other ways to read eBooks – chosen, it must be said, pretty much at random, but no less illustrative for that. Engadget on Panasonic’s Word Gear. This looks nice, and is competitively priced against the Sony. Unlike the Sony, it’s a fully-featured, colour screen, which means vastly reduced battery life, but the chance to view movies, photos, and, in the example given, scantily-clad Japanese girls. Symbian explain all about eBooks, and how to read them on their OS Phone. As Apple endlessly ...
  • The Times they are…
    In Sunday’s Times, Bryan Appleyard wrote about the future of books. It’s a great article and deserves to be read in its entirety, but since we’re here we’ll note the key points, which are tantamount to articles of faith around these parts: “Over the past decade, power in the book industry has drained away from publishers to the bookshops.” This is incontestably true, and Appleyard notes its main effect: publishers must now pay the booksellers vast sums to have their books placed in the areas of their bookshops in which they will sell. Without front-of-store positioning, and the stacks ...
  • We are smarter than Me
    Friday saw the launch of MIT’s Center for Collective Intelligence, an organisation dedicated to understanding how to take advantage of “collective intelligence… new communication technologies – especially the Internet – [which] now allow huge numbers of people all over the planet to work together in new ways.” One of their first projects is We Are Smarter Than Me, a collaborative effort by to write a “network book” – a book written by multiple authors, leveraging their experiences and intelligence to create a new kind of textbook (which, in this case, already has a publishing deal – Pearson, 2007). ...
  • Books for Second Life (part 2)
    I recently went exploring in Second Life, and it didn’t take long to find bibliophiles. Over at the Coelacanth Books & News Store in Changmi, I met the proprietor Coelacanth Seurat (pictured, in front of her store, below), who is exploring the possibilities of text in the 3D virtual world. The store stocks Second Life-themed magazines, which are distributed via notecards (the texts of SL), SL-authored books, and a monthly selection of recommended books with links to buy them from Amazon. Seurat sees her mission thus: “In RL a bookstore is a place to browse and buy books ...
  • Sony Reader sells out
    Following widespread hoots of derision from the publishing industry, guess what? From the Bookseller: “Overwhelming demand” for the new e-reader from Sony means that the device has sold out online. Priced at US$349.99, the ebook reader was launched on 27th September and sold out shortly afterwards. Sony states on its website that “due to overwhelming demand, new orders may ship as late as November 30th”. Sony would not disclose manufacturing quantities or sales volumes for the product. While much of this is undoubtedly down to early adopters who want to try out the device, not people with a genuine ...
  • Threats, Challenges and Opportunities: The Industry Measure
    Last week, The Industry Measure, an American trendwatcher, released part one of its report series The Multichannel Mix: The Role of Print, Web, Wireless, and Other Platforms in Today’s New Media Environment, focussed on publishing (Available online here, summarised here). The report, which I can’t possibly afford, does note that “in Summer 2006, 26% of all publishers cited “competition from online/Internet formats” as a business challenge, the highest this challenge has been in a decade.” There’s a slight wording change there from publishers’ usual characterisation of such competition as a ‘threat’ rather than a ‘challenge’, but it’s ...
  • Books for Second Life
    Today´s Guardian carries a prominent article from non-specialist correspondent Stuart Jeffries on the subject of Second Life. (You only live twice), continuing the virtual environment´s increasing visibility as the next online phenomena to move into the popular conciousness, hot on the heels of myspace, YouTube, et al. This follows the announcement last week from Penguin´s ´Digital Publisher´ Jeremy Ettinghausen of their move into SL, initially offering a ´virtual sampler´of Neal Stephenson´s cyberpunk classic Snow Crash, the book credited with inspiring the creation of SL (and incidentally a personal favourite, although you must read his non-cyber debut, the ...
  • Epstein on the future of books
    The latest New York Review of Books, a special edition of which is produced for the book fair, carries an article by Jason Epstein, venerable founder of the NYRB and husband of crusading refusenik Judith Miller, entitled Books@Google (it´s also available online). A flavour of Epstein´s wonderful prose can be found in the following analysis of Google´s ´Don´t Be Evil´ motto: The confrontation of founders who wish to do only good with the complex reality of their astonishing commercial achievement is an issue of biblical scope which calls to mind the expulsion, naked and trembling, of our ancestral parents ...
  • Willkommen zum Buchmesse
    Today´s Guardian ran a large picture on page six of mass-market paperbacks being laid out in Frankfurt, under the headline ´Cover Story´and bearing the strapline: The 380,000 books displayed on stands at Frankfurt Book Fair has helped offset fears about the viability of print in the digital age. Wishful thinking. I’m in Frankfurt this week too, for what is by far the largest and most prestigious gathering of the publishing world, and no one seems to be taking the future seriously. The facilities provided pay ample testament to this, and would shock those used to attending more modern get-togethers. Wi-fi ...
  • Birth pangs of a new literature
    Welcome to booktwo.org. This site was inspired by the following piece of writing first posted at shorttermmemoryloss.com. This should give you some idea of where booktwo came from, and where it’s supposed to be going. There’s been a bit of a creative block in these parts for a while. Half-formed thoughts. Unfinished articles. Sweaty, 5am thinking jags. Please ignore the elephant in the corner. He’s not really there. La la la la la. The book is going to die. It’s over. Five, ten years. No more books. And we really, really need to start talking about this. We need ...
  • For Hire

    Booktwo.org is the blog of James Bridle, a book and technology specialist with specific expertise in planning and producing web and new media projects for clients in publishing and the arts. If you'd like to hire me, have a look at my CV and portfolio, and feel free to get in touch.

    I am also a member of the Really Interesting Group.

    You can follow me on Twitter.

    Speaking Engagements:

    I am available for conferences and other events. For examples, see my talks at Interesting, Playful, South by Southwest, dConstruct and Tools of Change Frankfurt.

    A complete list of talks, with links, is available.