Sunday, March 27, 2011

Rehashing #unpackLIS

Friday was "Unpacking the 'Library': Exploring Works in Progress Across the Field of LIS." This conference was significant for me not only because I had a blast as an audience member, but because it was the first conference I have helped to plan and run. Our goal with the conference was to use it as an extension of B Sides Journal's dual mission of professional development and education, and it was a resounding success! I'm planning on writing another post on the process of planning a student-run conference, but for this one I wanted to focus on sharing some of the takeaways from all of the awesome presentations!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Modernizing Markham wraps up

Last night I created the last recipe for my Modernizing Markham project. It's been a lot of fun, and I'm excited to move onto the next stage. All I have to do now is make the calligraphed pamphlet-y book and upload the POD/e-book version to various sites. I'm still figuring out how best to approach that (with the caveat that I use free services only), so suggestions are welcome. Since I'm at the turning point with my nearly-finished project, I thought I'd take a second and share a few things I've learned from blogging outside my discipline.
1. What works in one field won't work across the board. Obvious, yes, but definitely some words to live by. I am usually pretty good at attracting readers through social media and getting some interesting discussion going in the comments, but the dynamic was completely different with this project. More people found my blog through oddly specific web searches (despite a social media blitz, I never got much over 50 Twitter followers), and the comments mostly had a different feel about them. I'm not sure if this is true of all food blogs, but most people would just post 1-2 sentence comments with tips or with information on where to order a product. It's very useful, but it was harder to engage readers when responding to those posts. Which leads me to my next point...
2. Engage your readers. I feel like I do an alright job on this blog (although if there's a feature/topic/something you'd like to see, I'd love to know!), but I feel like there was a lot of room for improvement with my other blog. Whether it was from my new-ness to the food/history blogging field, my topic, or something I overlooked, I felt like I could not generate the interest I hoped for. I asked for input from readers (very few people responded to questions in my posts) and tried to offer helpful resources, but I have been pondering on what else I could have done. Possibilities include focusing more on offering resources (those posts did get more interest than others), and expand my reach to spend more time also trying to tie it into book history (I did this some, but it would have been a fun way to draw in more history folk).
3. Keep yourself motivated. After a while, I felt like no one was reading the blog and I had other things going on (moving, graduating, all that good stuff) and so I didn't devote the amount of time to it that I would have liked in the last few posts. I like these posts (and the recipes), but I felt less compelled to add lots of exciting resources and context to the posts. If I do a future short-term blogging project like MM, I might consider setting up a more strictly-enforced posting schedule for myself, keeping an eye out for other projects and resources I can share with readers, and try to network with other bloggers working with culinary history.

You can find more of my thoughts on interdisciplinary blogging here. Also, if you've had experience blogging in multiple contexts I'd love to hear what you learned!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Attempts at E-Book Publishing

Later in the semester, I'll be putting my Center for the Book final project online as both a POD (print on demand) book and a e-book. Since I wasn't sure whether or not one platform would publish to all e-bookstores, I am testing it out with my conference paper from ALA Annual last year, and thought I would share the results with you.
Lulu is the place where I will most likely be creating the POD version of my book, and so it would be easy to turn that into an e-book too. It looks like Lulu only sells in the iBookstore, which means you have to assign it an ISBN and you have to put a price on it. I want to sell my UICB book as I am planning on giving half the proceeds back to the department, but I want to just give my conference paper away. Since I uploaded a PDF rather an an ePub document, I don't have to mess with the iBookstore's minimum price (99 cents).
Setting everything up is easy: I selected 'sell everywhere' which requires you to have an ISBN (Lulu gives you a free one on the next page). I think the ISBN lists Lulu as the retailer, which makes me wonder if it's usable on other e-book sites. For the record, mine is:
In order to sell in the iBookstore, you have to have your document in ePub format (mine isn't). It looks like it's just a matter of converting the document to html, dropping some xml in there, and bundling it all up, but I'm a bit short on time this week to spend too much time messing with that. So, I put it up there as a PDF, which means it won't be in the iBookstore BUT 
The rest of the process was easy: design a cover based on a few templates, add metadata, etc. BIG kudos to Lulu for including multiple licensing options: I heaved a sigh of frustration when seeing a field for copyright, but was relieved immediately to see that you got to choose from standard copyright, GNU, CC, public domain, or a custom license. More kudos are due for the option to let readers share your book (if you don't want to share the book, it adds 25 cents to the price readers pay for your book).
To get the PDF for free on Lulu, go to this link!
I love my Kindle, and I definitely wanted to make my paper available to Kindle users. I already was impressed with the Kindle store after setting up my blogs for publication (I later discovered that it isn't an option on all e-readers when I tried to set them up in the Nook store). For Kindle, you have to provide tax information, which I didn't have to do for Lulu. Amazon loses some kudos for not giving a range of licensing options: either you have copyright or it's in the public domain. Since I'm not sure the logistics behind this stuff (and I'd already tacked rights onto the other one) I selected to retain copyright, but it makes me feel a bit unhappy. They do get some serious kudos though for automatically converting files to the format they want them in. The conversion did not work *at all* with .doc or .pdf file extensions, but it worked reasonably well with a plain text (.txt) file, although there are still a few errors here and there. I was also pretty upset that it wouldn't let me publish for free (and in order to publish for 99 cents I had to opt to take hardly any royalties.) It definitely makes me less thrilled about the idea of publishing with them in the future, which is a shame because their e-reader is so nice. The paper is currently 'under review' but I'll post a link when it's available there. Another option for Kindle users? Go to Lulu and download the PDF for free. I'll try to get the document up on Gutenberg and a few other places too.