[Humanist] 26.830 eBook platforms

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Fri Mar 1 07:36:56 CET 2013

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 830.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>                             (38)
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms?

  [2]   From:    "Lisa L. Spangenberg"                                     (11)
                <medievalist at digitalmedievalist.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms? database? Arabic OCR?
                Leeuwenhoek & Swift?

        Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 06:57:01 -0600
        From: John Laudun <jlaudun at mac.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms?

Dear Michelle,

Many readers of this list will, like me, probably want to know what you mean by your use of "serious" in various contexts

> serious eBooks
> serious History monograph
> serious digital publications

as it may very well prove an important qualifier. 

As to software ... for simple eBook production, Scrivener (originally Mac only, but now also available for Windows, I believe) is quite capable not only of producing complex documents -- it is used by novelists, scholars, and journalists alike -- but also of producing fairly clean eBooks. I believe Apple's Pages now also exports to epub format, as does, of course, its recently released iBook Author. 

The ePub format is a great place to start, because you can always roll up your sleeves later in the production process and work with the code itself.


john laudun

John Laudun
Department of English
University of Louisiana – Lafayette
Lafayette, LA 70504-4691
laudun at louisiana.edu

On 2013 Feb 28, at 12:27 AM, Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> Howdy all!
> I am writing because, after some looking, I am rather surprised at the current relative lack of scholarship on the composition and literary theory of serious eBooks, precisely when they ironically seem to be significantly peaking as a medium...  (Indeed, the scholarship's heyday seems to have been in the 1990s back with the advent of hyperlinking!)
> I am investigating this because I am interested in producing a serious History monograph for a scholarly publisher directly in eBook format, which would fully take advantage of the possibilities for interactivity that are offered now by eBooks and tablet apps (something along the lines of Pushpop's "Al Gore's 'Our Choice'").  
> Unfortunately, Pushpop was bought by Facebook for its own projects so it apparently won't be producing other similar eBooks soon.  My question is if any of the Digital Humanities readers know of scholarly publishers interested in serious digital publications... In addition, while I am looking for such a publisher, can anyone recommend a software platform I might use to get started on such a "manuscript" (since I don't know much about coding at this point) ??
> Thanks a million for help with this project!!
> Very best wishes,
> Michelle
> Michelle Laughran, Ph.D.,
> Associate Professor and Chair of History,
> Saint Joseph's College of Maine

        Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2013 07:09:17 -0800
        From: "Lisa L. Spangenberg" <medievalist at digitalmedievalist.com>
        Subject: Re:  26.827 eBook platforms? database? Arabic OCR? Leeuwenhoek & Swift?
        In-Reply-To: <20130228062756.E96FA114D at digitalhumanities.org>

Dr. Scott Nokes created Witan Publishing for scholarly ebooks:


In terms of software, the tools closest to what companies like The Voyager Company were producing in the 1990s is Apple's free iBook Publisher. There are, however, some caveats. While the tool is fairly simple to learn, the books can only be read on an iPad. If you propose to sell the books you can only sell them through Apple. iBooks publisher does make it fairly easy to incorporate rich media and interaction, but was primarily envisioned as a way to produce textbooks. 

Other alternatives in terms of file format are numerous, but I would likely look to ePub as the best option for someone without ready access to a robust budget and a creative team. It is practical, but the options of robust interactivity beyond rich media become limited. 

Once interactivity and rich media enters the picture, it gets much trickier and typically involves hand-coding XML, and creating a stand-alone app, like some of the recent apps on The Book of Kells, or David Sibley's Birds. 



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