Bookstacks Wants to Know – Book Formats in Second Life

26 May

Posted by on May 26, 2009 in Bookstacks News


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13 responses to “Bookstacks Wants to Know – Book Formats in Second Life

  1. Otenth Paderborn

    May 26, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    OK, so with such a small sample so far, I’ve totally thrown it off–I voted for all four options, and I would add at least one more!

    No, I don’t like reading in-world. *Possibly* because the tools aren’t that good for me, but probably because no matter what the tool, it’s much like reading on a computer screen, which I don’t care for that much, and I can do it without being in SL.

    Yes, please, I’d like to know about web versions, but it’s also very nice, if there’s a notecard version of the book, to have it available–it is immediately accessible without leaving SL, it’s easy to cut and paste, etc.

    THiNC books (and others of their ilk) seem not worth the effort for a lot of text. But if you want a moderate amount of text to have a certain emotional effect, then it’s worth it. And for images, or text and images–well, I think it’s great. For in-world discussions and such, for poems or excerpts, or any time you want everyone to be able to see the same thing and to be able to take it away, they are excellent.

    Finally, the other option, is to have a link to bookstore or library records for the book. I’m all in favor of using affiliate programs to support efforts such as this, so if you think someone is going to buy a copy of a book, by all means give them a link to a specific bookstore with which you have an affiliate account (Amazon is very convenient, but Powell’s Books also has an affiliate program and could use the business.)

  2. Kat Alderson

    May 26, 2009 at 10:15 pm

    I *love* the idea of books in world. There is nothing more satisfying than being able to turn a page to see what happens next!

    I’m particularly fond of the hippoBOOK format, both as a publisher and as a reader. They are painfully simple to compile and configure, and it is very easy to turn off some of the feature which make other rezzable book formats so laggy. Hippo Technologies has long been a leader in just about every useful tool in SL, and hippoBOOKs are no exception. I have no affiliation what so ever with Hippo, I just really appreciate a good product.

    I am not a fan of notecard “books” for several reasons, the most important being that the text formatting is not versatile. Some text MUST be italcised for nuance, and this is not possible in a notecard. And *asterisk* and CAPITAL emphasis gets old rather fast. And no one should publish their work in a modifiable notecard. One should do as much to protect their property rights as much as possible!

    As a book publisher in Second Life, I would strongly encourage other book publishers to include texture pre-loaders in their sales boxes. This will save the reader from having to wait to rez with every turn of a page.

    A book makes a great gift and a great freebie. Even if a Second Life resident doesn’t read in world, a book familiarizes residents with new authors and piques his or her curiosity.

    While full-length novels converted for SL book formats are impractical, sample chapters are not. This is true for both text stories and graphic novels.

    If one is selling a book, short story, or graphic novel in Second Life, one can also provide a URL to a PDF download of said-same story, as well URLs to where residents can buy more stories.

    If one is giving away a story, it is still practical to give provide a URL to a PDF download.

    As readers become more savvy, and become more accustomed to reading in electronic formats, the demand for fiction in world will rise. After all, first life books are an investment of money and of precious time. Dedicated readers will take free or cheap samples of work where they can find those samples.

  3. Simeon Beresford

    May 27, 2009 at 3:55 am

    I can only think of one person who says she has read a full length novel in world on SL.
    I have not seen a hippo book yet but i find Think books usable for magazines etc. Notecards are too limited in every way. LL need to expand its document formats.

    links to out world books are certainly an option worth considering. I am not I dislike pdf thought mobipocket and ereader formats are better options producing readable output on a wide range of devices. pdf’s slavish imitation of a book makes for great hard copy . but sluggish and awkward screen manipulation

  4. Adele Ward

    May 27, 2009 at 4:51 am

    When I first came on to Second Life it was a bit awkward looking at external websites but since this has become easier I find the people in our writing/publishing group prefer weblinks. It’s just much easier to read large amounts of text on a website or PDF and also it appears as if it’s ‘in-world’ now as the weblink pops up with SL still in the background.

    I think this has really reduced the need for many of the page-turning books in-world. There is still a need for them though. A page-turning book with a few poems, or an excerpt of prose, is still something passers-by like to see at an exhibition and we always have some displayed on our area for any writers who want us to set them out. They are also useful as a gift and they probably are just one more way a writer might tempt others to read a little bit of their work. If readers like what they see they may well look for more. If people have their pages as jpegs I can easily make a page-turning book for free to set out at the Written Word or to give away so they might as well do it.

    I find people also like other approaches, particularly links to recordings of the writer reading their work, and this is so easy to do with a free download of Audacity. If they don’t have a website to broadcast it then writing groups have them. It’s also good to video a reading as this is so easily put on Facebook etc where it’s quite appealing and gets views. There are some very attractive ways of displaying page-turning books on websites, where the pages seem to curl over so beautifully. Can anyone tell me how to do this? And also the link to find out the Hippo technologies approach.

    Notecards do have a place, mainly as a way to show the audience a text version of work that’s being read out for us, and also if people ask me or others for a critique in-world. It’s always vital to provide text for the audience who can’t hear or who (like me) like to read along as they listen. I would never make a book that handed out the whole text in notecards as notecards are given with copy permission, but I don’t mind giving notecards with bits of writing that I’m reading. People can copy and paste to notecards or to Word from a website if they prefer to read in another format. Giving away a whole book in one place, such as on notecards or by having all your poems on the same blog, is something people need to think about carefully. If you publish it all as a download from a website you can remove it if you start to try to find a publisher, but books circulating in-world can’t be recalled, so publication of books on SL is like publishing on a website where you can’t ask for your writing to be removed.

  5. thebookstacks

    May 27, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Here is the blog post I saw that lead me to ponder the book format issue (look at the 6th paragraph).

  6. Noble Charron

    May 27, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    I actually like page-turning books in world for a variety of reasons. First, I like the format for offering samples that allow me to format them in a very attractive manner. I don’t get that from notecards. I also like being able to sell work in world to defray the costs of providing it.

    I would have to disagree with the idea that publication of work in SL will cause a First Life publisher to refuse to publish the work. Aside from the fact that First Life publishers are anything but savvy about SL (despite owning islands), the fact is that they’re not going to see publication here as anything more than publicity. Moreover, First Life publishers do not buy serial rights to works anymore, and SL publication (if done in chapter-long chunks or so) would be serial publication.

    I should note that I have a certain amount of First Life experience in this area, as the author of over 40 novels, eight of which hit the New York Times Bestseller list. With my last 5 novels the publisher had to request the right to post sample chapters to their website, since they did not own those rights, and I was free to do whatever I wished with the book if I published it in pieces.

    To be frank, I think folks who love books and writing should spend as much time as possible to get authors in-world to share their work. I don’t mean finding an in-world wannabe, I mean dragging in First Life authors and providing them opportunities for readings, chats and the publication of samples. This is a way to strengthen the written word’s presence in the world, and provide us all more opportunities to learn from very good writers.

  7. Adele Ward

    May 28, 2009 at 6:27 am

    Noble – I do agree with you as each thing I said has many sides to it. I don’t separate SL and RL though as they’re all websites/social networks I use and they all merge with increasing seamlessness.

    I agree about the need to bring authors and publishers on and I’m working at that. The Meet an Author show has really taken off and I have a fantastic list of real life published authors coming on, so there will be far more authors to inspire and help the budding talent on SL. Some of the authors are staying on the area to provide regular contact for aspiring authors.

    I agree with Noble that it’s very important to attract authors and publishers on and we’ve been doing that with the Meet an Author show and by giving free space to publishers on SL and those who want to come on. I’m inundated with requests at the moment from authors and publishers and I’m doing it non income, so you can see that I feel it’s worthwhile to do this for the benefit of the SL community and to get this really working in the right way.

    I’m also in touch with a lot of publishers, both the ones on SL and the ones who aren’t because I work in journalism and publishing (as an editor and book reviewer) in real life. The only thing I disagree with Noble about is the savvy of publishers about Second Life. They really know about it now and this will increase rapidly over the coming months. I’m working as a freelance journalist specialising in publishing too and I know the publishers read what’s happening, especially on the Reed Media site Publishing Talk. The publishers tend to have a feed from Publishing Talk so they’re all becoming very aware of SL. You’ll soon see this awareness really take off.

    I do agree that excerpts in page turning format wouldn’t put a publisher off accepting a book and that they can look attractive and are helpful as part of an author’s promotion. For a poet it’s a little different as each poem is a complete work, so if I put one of my poems in a book on Second Life I can’t then enter it in a competition or submit it to a magazine in RL as it’s already published on a website (and poets need some competition wins and mag publication to help their books along).

    Second Life is just another website – not a separate world, even though it can feel like that, so the rules are the same. I put poems in a page turning book in-world if they’re already published in RL. If they may be used for competitions or magazine submissions I couldn’t do it as I can’t recall all the books in SL in the same way I could remove the poems from a message board etc. The same would be true for a short story.

    It’s true that publishers have varying responses to submissions that have been published already. I believe Macmillan New Writers will consider novels sent by email attachment even if they have been published online, so the important thing is to check each publisher’s requirements. There’s a link to Macmillan New Writers and info in the Macmillan store on the Written Word area (it’s in the basement) or Google Macmillan New Writers.

    There are publishers on SL and they do go around looking at what writers are doing, hoping to spot the type of writer they want. I just have a brief extract of my novel in progress in a poster on our area (it’s just one notecard) and I’ve been approached because of it. I spotted a very talented novelist because he displayed his writing on posters, which were easier to read at that time, and we kept in touch for a year while he submitted and was finally taken on by St Martins for his crime novel. So displaying and sharing your writing is the only way to attract publishers, along with submitting to the right ones for each type of book.

  8. Adele Ward

    May 28, 2009 at 6:32 am

    I just want to add that I think it’s fantastic how writing venues have spread all over SL and how well they’re being organised for the benefit of aspiring writers, published authors, publishers and educators. This really is a fantastic way to champion writing in all forms and the so-called ‘real world’ will probably follow where the virtual world leads when they see what a following writing attracts. The more venues and organisers there are the better it becomes.

  9. thebookstacks

    May 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    I think the points about authors’ rights are something I’m not hearing discussed often. I suspect many aspiring writers don’t think of what they are giving up when they share their works in-world. Is anyone offering workshops/discussions on the topic? Perhaps during Mike’s office hours? I’d be happy to help spread the word about anything like that taking place. If no one is having that discussion, should we?

  10. Simeon Beresford

    May 29, 2009 at 5:24 am

    Yes Adele we are very impressed with meet the Author The number of times lately that I have decided to delay asking an author to appear on of the shelf because we just saw them on your show and we don’t want to seem to be copycats is depressing.
    Previous limited ,POD for example, or electronic distribution of text is become less and less a hindrance to getting a book traditionally published. Indeed successful distribution of such things seems more and more regarded as both good advance publicity and evidence of an even larger untapped market.

  11. Adele Ward

    May 31, 2009 at 3:50 am

    That’s so nice of you Simeon, but no need to worry about having the same authors or any type of similar event. In fact it’s quite natural for the authors to be appearing all over SL in the same way they would be doing a tour in RL. I think it’s fantastic the way activities for writers have spread so much and SL is really championing all forms of writing by doing this. Athough it was traditionally not cool to copy on virtual worlds, it’s perfectly normal for writing/book events to be similar and for authors to be able to appear regularly at various places. On the subject of authors’ rights: we do discuss it regularly at events because writers are constantly asking if they should pass notecards, if they should publish online and how. So I’m always happy to talk to people about this and answer it. Perhaps I should write something for reference.

  12. Adele Ward

    May 31, 2009 at 4:12 am

    I also agree with what you say (Simeon) about self-published books being an indication to potential publishers that you have a following and that if they publish your book you could be marketable. This wouldn’t be so much the case for niche market books and books with a smaller market, like poetry, as you would probably have already sold to that market with your self-published book. On the other hand, I would recommend self publication to poets as they can promote and sell by themselves by giving readings and it’s so hard to find a publisher that you might as well go it alone. The good thing about SL is that people can judge the quality of your writing for themselves – they’ll know if they like it regardless of whether or not a publisher can afford to publish you.

    Many independents are on the verge of going under, unfortunately, due to the recession. The recent plea from Salt Publishing for everyone to buy one book to save them was quite amazing – and worked.

    I wasn’t thinking so much of self-publishing putting publishers off taking a writer, I was thinking more of people who maybe publish their book bit by bit on a blog or let somebody else publish them online. I think it’s vital to be sure you can remove all your writing from any website where it’s published if necessary. If you decide to submit to a competition, or if you have a publisher interested in your book you will want to be able to do this. Message boards that people need to register to use are a different thing – I have an online workshop that’s on a message board, it doesn’t count as publication, and the poems are also hard for people to find once the message board moves on. I do delete them if people ask, though, and we also delete any writing published on the Written Word website if people ask.

    You can’t ask for your writing to be deleted if people have published it in an in-world page turning book or magazine and it has been sent out in multiple copies. Whether or not a publisher/editor/competition judge is aware of the publication isn’t as important as the fact that we are asked to sign that we have not had it published on a website before so I’d never enter the ones I’ve had in SL magazines. I count this as the website so anything I have in a book here has been published on a website just the same as it would be on any other website. It’s not a separate world. Anyone entering a competition who has seen your poem etc here and then sees you get a prize would be entitled to complain.

    If people have published writing on a blog or website the problem for a potential publisher is that readers can Google and find the whole book or most of it for free online, so a publisher can see that as eating into the potential number of buyers. It’s a massive investment for a publisher each time they take on a new novelist, so if too much is easily available for free online it’s a problem. Poets who put a quantity of poems available for free online will find many readers will be satisfied with that and won’t buy the book, and the market is so small that the publisher couldn’t even cover costs if this happened. I buy loads of books but many people don’t now they can read so much online. I’m not saying not to do it as it’s so important to share for many reasons. But it’s essential to be aware of all this. And it’s really important at this time to all try to buy at least one book from the wonderful independent publishers who offer an outlet to small markets like poetry and very original fiction, otherwise we’ll see them disappearing soon.

  13. Simeon Beresford

    May 31, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    Poets and short short writers are the ones I think feel the downside of web publishing worse than anyone, by contrast blogwriters and other serial writers. ( Think Julie and Julia, or Monster Nation) feel its Upside. pre publicity and proof of audience.) However as electronic publications become less and less cumbersome they too will start to feel the downside. at the moment books beat the other media. when we have equally convenient electronic media. a whole new model will have to develop.