This book is the result of a belief: that “digital” fundamentally alters the mechanics of publishing books. There is much talk about this shift in the publishing world — a calendar filled with conferences, a blogosphere popping with opinion, and not a few op-eds and even books on this very topic, some many years old.
But we wanted to get beyond beliefs with this work, to get into the nuts and bolts of things. We wanted our contributors to be not just perceptive thinkers, but also doers, people who are building the kinds of tools and companies that will continue to shape publishing for years to come.
Indeed the idea for Book came about not so much as an idea for a book, as a way to put to real-world use a new kind of digital tool for book publishing that my small company was (and is) in the process of building: PressBooks.com. PressBooks is a simple, but powerful web-based book production tool, that produces ebooks, print books, and webbooks, all from one online source file. I thought I should be in the middle of it, testing it with a real publishing project.
So I pitched the idea for the book, first to my friend Brian O’Leary, who is as seasoned about book publishing as I am naive. Brian liked it, and we agreed that the best place for the book was O’Reilly Media, a publishing company known for its aggressive embrace of digital innovation. Joe Wikert, Publisher at O’Reilly, liked it too — and we spent a good number of hours talking about how to “walk the walk” of the changes happening in publishing as we produced this book.
We’re building this book — writing, editorial, copyediting, proofing, and production of the ebook (and later print) output — on a new online tool, PressBooks, and learning valuable things in the process. We released the book in three parts, and O’Reilly experimented with staged pricing with these releases. In addition, we’re releasing the book for free online, and selling it as an ebook, and a print version as well.
Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto is as much about the process as it is about the content. A big part of that process is you, the reader — because publishing does not stop once the book goes out into the wild. Maybe that’s when publishing really begins. We’d love to get your feedback, thoughts and criticisms, and the best place for that feedback is the online version of this book, which can be found at: book.pressbooks.com.