The world needs a Collaborative Authoring and Book Sprint platform. A web-based Free Software for collaboratively authoring books on any subject, in any language. A platform that is easy to use, social, easily redeployed, enables rapid content development in Book Sprint environments, facilitates content reuse and translation, manages licensing and attribution, and outputs beautiful book formatted PDF.
Currently no software, open or proprietary, has been designed and built with these needs in mind. Many struggle to write books in wikis or CMS (or by passing word processor files around via email) but they quickly realise that the collaborative authoring of structured content needs a very different environment.
The differentiating factor is the software paradigm. Wikis are for the asynchronous development of unstructured web content. CMS is for the management of web-structured online content. A Collaborative Authoring and Book Sprint platform is designed for the collaborative and rapid development of highly structured content (books).
Anyone that wishes to write manuals on Free Software can take advantage of this kind of tool as FLOSS Manuals has pioneered this kind of environment. Unfortunately however, the FLOSS Manuals website is not a generic installable software. So if you want to collaboratively author advocacy handbooks, Health Education material, textbooks or any other kind of book, then you are stuck passing Word Processor files via email, or struggling with a wiki or CMS.
What the world needs now, is its own Collaborative Authoring and Book Sprint system. And now we have one...Booki
Booki is a revolution in publishing.
Creating reusable repositories of books and dispelling the myth of sole authorship is simultaneously a disruptive challenge to the publishing industry as well as a productive environment for collaboratively creating many wonderful new books. This is our goal for Booki.
In doing this Booki changes accepted methods of publishing. Unlike current publishing models, Booki does not consider authors as isolated producers. Booki facilitates collaborative production through simple and effective writing and book management tools. The Booki interface is designed around the authors and their needs to write, to discuss their views, to seek assistance with partner writers, to translate and reuse content. Using a platform like this you can collaborate to produce very high quality content, very quickly. In this type of environment we have written, and you can write, a high quality book in 2 days with people you may never meet. This already sounds very distant from traditional publishing methods.
However, Booki also accelerates the production cycle of print-ready sources. In Booki print-ready source (book formatted PDF) is generated on the server in a matter of minutes. If you update the book then you can very quickly output another book-formatted PDF. Standard industry production processes cannot compete with this pace.
Booki also changes the ways books are designed. Booki changes the method of design from the proprietary Indesign 'industry standard' to the CSS open standard. In Booki, the design of book formatted PDF is controlled with CSS – bringing book design to the web literate. If you know CSS you can change the style your book.
Booki also challenges the traditional publishing view on reuse, and posits the idea that books can always be improved. Hence books should always be reusable. Booki uses open content licenses by default which partially assists reuse. However without a repository of content and a technical process for managing reuse, content won't often be reused regardless of the license. Booki makes reuse easy by technically facilitating the forking, updating, improving, remixing, rewriting, recontextualisation, and translation of books.
Translation is an especially interesting case of reuse. Where the traditional publishing industry cannot easily translate content due to its restrictive licensing and contractual requirements, Booki encourages and facilitates translation wherever possible. Booki provides translation tools to ease the migration of books across language boundaries. However translation is not the only language feature of Booki. Booki also places a high value on the production of original content in any language. For this reason Booki is designed to be easily localised by integrating the Pootle localisation platform into its architecture. This means anyone can translate the Booki interface to assist with the production of content in any language.
Translation, reuse and republishing on this scale also challenges other legacy publishing concepts, notably 'Editions'. 'Editions' no longer make sense when books can easily and quickly be forked, translated, updated and republished. This is because in the publishing industry (costly) ISBN numbers are linked to Edition numbers. It is impractical to utilise ISBN in this new environment because books can be updated and re-released as quickly as software. So 'Edition' is no longer a suitable concept. Since the development of books in Booki better mirrors Open Source development models we prefer to talk of Versions instead of Editions. Hence Booki requires a different vocabulary so as to differentiate the Booki publishing model from traditional publishing processes.
Actually Booki makes bolder challenges to what a book is. Booki is really a platform for the collaborative development of Comprehensive Texts, one output of which is books. However Booki can output your text to multiple formats, opening the door to RSS syndication, ebook distribution, or any other format for the distribution on offline or online media. Booki helps comprehensive texts move fluidly through different media. However, 'comprehensive text' is too wordy and so we still use the term 'book', but perhaps more liberally than traditional publishers.
Although built to support Collaborative Authoring and Book Sprints you can use Booki to write a book by yourself over a longer period of time. You can also install your own version of Booki for your own use, or share an existing installation. Whichever strategy you take; collaborating, writing in solo, rapidly developing books, or taking your time - when you have worked with Booki you will never think of publishing the same way again.