Why do you have the restriction to original work and public domain work "with your own take"? For me, personally, that's a bit disappointing, since I work largely on digital reproductions of public domain work leaving it "as is".
One of my leisure time pursuits is to find interesting old books on cavalry, making them into high-quality reflowable e-books. It's a lot of work. I sometimes have to find multiple originals in libraries and antiquarian bookstores if there isn't a single original available in a good enough condition. Then I type them in multiple times to make sure there are no typos. I scan & vectorize the graphics. Then I produce nice reflowable EPUBs and ensure compatibility with a wide range of hardware. That kind of thing is hard work, and yet that sort of work is probably not protectable by copyright. It's been a personal frustration of mine that platforms for bookselling are often so uninviting towards that kind of content. -- It would be pretty easy for me to take a work like that and make it into an edition "with commentary", but, honestly, I'd much rather allow these works to shine in their original glory.
Fixed and deployed. Yes, feel free to publish public domain works as you like it!
> …regarding the royalties model that you're going to use.
15:85 for Bubblin:Creator using simple Stripe Connect. I'll be rolling out these pages in the next few hours.
Why not crowdfund this work, with a commitment to submitting it DRM-free to Project Gutenberg (or perhaps DP-EU, for works that PG cannot accept)? This pure 'sweat of the brow' work seems to be especially appropriate for crowdfunding, as opposed to plain old content protection.
wikisource actually does crowdsource this type of work. regarding crowdfunding: it's not actually all that capital intensive and i prefer no capital and no responsibilities. otherwise i could get in trouble balancing responsibilities toward crowdfunding investors versus responsibilities toward the employer who i actually work for to pay my bills.
That’s so cool! Is there any chance you’re willing to share those epub’s? I’m a private Archivist/Data Hoarder and would love to get my hands on those files just to keep them safe.
Feel free to contact me, my email is on my profile.
I'll create a Facebook group to serve as a "reading club" and publish the fulltext in a bit-by-bit fashion to the group as Facebook documents, maybe also to Bubblin at zero price. I like the idea of being able to link directly to individual pages within the Bubblin-based ebook. The usefulness of this feature depends a bit on how good the previews look that Facebook would end up extracting for those links. For people who want a more proper book experience there will be a ZIP file available for download with a printable PDF and an EPUB. I'll make that bundle available for purchase using a service similar to gumtree but better geared for the German market.
My hope would be that, through these purchases, I can recoup some of the costs that went into the production of those works. After the reading club is through, or when I've made enough money to break even, whichever comes first, I'll upload the EPUB for free to Amazon, project gutenberg, archive.org, wikisource, wikimedia commons, and whatever other platform I can think of. I'll also upload the scanned source material to achive.org. I can send it to you as well, if you'd like, once I get to that stage.
The baseline strategy here would be to just upload to Kindle Direct Publishing and put a price tag on it. But if I did that, then Amazon would stand to benefit from my efforts more than either I or the general public would, and it would probably not get the material as much circulation. So that's what I'm trying to avoid by doing things this way.
I’m sick of these rent seeking fee grabbing antiquated ideas prevailing just because “that’s how it’s always been done”
I truly respect your efforts and wouldn’t comment here if I didn’t think I had a way to improve that process for you. Please email me if you’re interested in hearing more. Email is username at gmail.
Looking forward to hopefully hearing from you.
Reason I ask is because I’m creating a website where users can be paid for demonstrating competency in content while also serving as a more sane and organized organizational structure for content.
Email is username at gmail if you’d like to chat.
The prototype is being put together live at knophy.com and while it may not appear obvious from the site’s current status, I would love to talk with you about how your archival efforts would be greatly appreciated with us.
Please reach out at my username at gmail if you’re interested.
Woah, that sounds cool! Do you have anything publicly available?
I can post a link here when it's ready, in case you're interested (just bookmark this thread). -- It will be in German, though. (Maybe I'll get into the business of translating one day, but not as of now).
I also have a second one in the pipeline, which is the aforementioned Prussian work (which eventually developed into the even more well-known HDV12 in its edition from 1937 that had a great deal of influence on the kind of dressage we see today).
When I'm done with that, I've already collected the source material on the British "Cavalry Drill", also of 1898. That one will be in English, obviously, but have no clue on when it might be ready.
Also, the font is simply gigantic, I felt like I was back in primary school! I couldn’t discover how to resize it, if that is possible.
Reading is about so much more than simply getting printed words in front of a pair of eyes. When you're reading, you're very actively engaged with whatever device you're using to read, so the ergonomics and aesthetics of the experience are much, much more important than they are on something like a music streaming service, where basically 0% of your time using the service is spent physically interacting with the app.
I have an e-reader that I strongly prefer using when it's an option. It's easier on my eyes than the iPad, it's more comfortable to hold than the iPad, spending a 2-hour flight reading a book on it won't take the battery down to 0 the way it will on the iPad. It doesn't glow blue and ruin my sleep if I use it to read before bedtime like my iPad will.
Sometimes I do read on the iPad, too, in cases where I need to scribble notes or the page layout needs to be preserved. (So, work stuff and comic books.) When I do that, I already have a reader app that I strongly prefer to all others I've tried.
I've spent years and years developing a personal connection with my e-reader and that reader app. They've become an integral part of my expectations when it comes to reading an ebook. Imagine if a park didn't let you bring your own bike on the trails. Even if they had bikes they let you use free of charge, even if the trails were stunning, I'd still probably find somewhere else to go riding, because, if I'm going to go mountain biking, I just assume it's going to be on my bike.
Basically - is this site selling itself as Bandcamp for books, which means ‘hardcore’ readers can discover new and interesting ‘indie’ books and do what they want with them in whatever format they want, or is it selling itself as a fancy reading app with animations and things (which imo appeals more to casual readers/children, and the giant font also gives off that impression)? It is trying to be both - or is clearly the latter but has been posted here as the former - and that seems conflicted. You simply can’t make me believe that I am MORE free by being locked into one reading app vs downloading a file! :)
What are the top three features on an app that you find so unique and useful that web can't offer it?
Some seem not to gel with the wording you’ve used for your website, but you’ve put lots of work in and your passion and honesty show through the feedback and responses you’re providing.
Given an electronic book at least I want to have a file I can copy to my eInk PocketBook (via Calibre or by just copying a file manually). My wife would like me to send her the file she would read in iBooks on her iPad. And would probably also like to open it on my Android phone to read it in an app that implements Spritz-like speed-reading technique.
By the way, there is another speed-reading aid technique which can fit children books - beeline (gradient-coluored text). But I'm not sure how can it affect children learning to read.
Have you seen this two books?:
I've personally read Judith's book on animated ABCs to toddlers in our community. In general, I'd want to optimize for attention span when it comes to kids--Bubblin helps with that. Most importantly, kids are already on the iPad, so it makes sense to go take it where they are.
Thank you for sharing the beeline technique. We can probably provide it as one of the layout template options! :-)
But to the point you do raise - so now I have to keep a tab open in safari constantly for each book I'm reading or might want to read? If I'm going on a trip and want to take half a dozen books because I'm not sure which I will read, now I've got 6 tabs open in safari constantly.
You can close the tabs and re-open any number of books without an Internet connection. The books will work normally.
That is the whole point of offline-first!
Feel free to test it! Bookmark the url and turn off the Internet. Now close the tab, hard refresh or restart your computer if you want to test that far. Reopen your browser and open the bookmarked url and the book will open up on the last page you were on and work normally with full UX/UI without Internet connection.
I would be more than happy to not only pay the authors but also for the work that you guys do by providing nice clean files.
There is another small thing that bugs me. Why did you choose to emulate books in your reader even down to turning pages? IMHO this is rather unnecessary, just presenting the book like a long article with well done typography would have been enough. (the reason, again IMHO, that ebook readers have virtual pages is that their displays are to slow to have smooth scroll)
We've discussed this subject at length over here:
I won't consider a service that doesn't have the epub format. The first thing I do (before buying an eBook anywhere) is check to see if I can get it on my e-reader. I already have to jump through hoops to get my Amazon purchases onto it.
I won't use your service because it doesn't have what I need. And there are many people like me.
There was already a comment about how there aren't epub downloads. So this is hardly the "Bandcamp for books." More like the "Spotify for books" I would think.
Interesting. I think we're drawing from both Spotify and Bandcamp here somewhat. Overall, since there are differences between how/why we consume music vs. how and what we do with books so there will be differences in final implementation of Bubblin eventually and we might just sit closer to Spotify then.
We had to start somewhere, and Bandcamp for Books wasn't a bad place to begin with.
This services feels more like a longer form blog platform tbh but good luck and I hope others find use in it.
hi Sonica, CTO & cofounder here.
i'm sure there are a number of nuggets in the epub standard to pick up! it's just that it is too much friction for people to download a file, navigate to the file on the disk and wait for it to open before they can start reading the book.
This smells more like a "we don't want to" instead of "we can't"...
Personally, I'd also prefer an epub, but I'm not the average user.
Except for all the people with an e-book reader. You're actively excluding power users. If it's really about the friction, just include an epub download as an alternative, so you address all target groups.
The more I read of this thread, the more I think that's the point. They don't care so much about people with reading devices and are catering to a (they hope) mass-scale audience.
Rejection of the existing market might backfire, though.
That's not true!
We support almost all devices on the planet that are on web, and would definitely like to reach devices that are not on web too.
What hadn't been clear to me up until yesterday was 'who we were': Netflix of books or Spotify of books or Bandcamp of books or Youtube of books, so I just went ahead with 'Bandcamp of books' for the announcement on HN.
I personally don't read books in form of files but that doesn't mean Bubblin wouldn't let authors or readers have it for their books -- unless of course we decide to become Spotify or Youtube of books instead.
Hope it clarifies.
It's two touches on an android and under 20 seconds for a typical book on a good link.
What friction are you talking about?
Besides, fbreader eats so much less battery/ram/cpu than firefox. This is very important.
No epub/fb2 download - not interested at all.
That’s ridiculous considering how successful a lot of PDF releases are.
You seem far too opinionated about your tech stack here to truly be a "Bandcamp" from the consumer side. You should try to meet customers where they are: if a user wants and asks for EPUB or MOBI (or MOBI with an AZW file extension) or CBZ or PDF or even DOCX for that matter, how good is your tech stack if you can't deliver on that choice?
A lot of people have favorite e-readers or e-reading apps, just because you offline-first HTML now doesn't mean it's necessarily the right fit. Especially in the world where users largely lost control of fonts and styling on the web, reader apps are people's best friends for long form reading.
It's technically neat that you plan to host arbitrary HTML to allow for interactivity in books. It's also an interesting security hurdle (your only plan to sandbox what you host is IFRAMEs?). But more importantly, if it gets in the way of being able to easily convert your hosted books to any e-reader format under the sun that a user may wish to pay for, is it doing you any good?
On the flipside you also don't seem to quite have nailed what made Bandcamp important to bands, either, which was its focus on bands. That early focus on bandname.bandcamp.com and being a "homepage" for a band listing their stuff alone without cross-sells, without being a "cluttered CD store", I think was critical to the early success of Bandcamp, and still a differentiator even as they've added a more somewhat unified catalog experience to the main page.
Where's your focus on authors? Again, your tech stack doesn't help here: a lot of writers use Word, your dripping disgust of Word in your FAQ shows that you don't seem to care about the tools that writers use. (A lot of professional writers use Word at least somewhere in their toolset because a lot of professional editors rely on the proofing and editing capabilities of Word.)
You have an ordinary bookstore homepage with an admixture of writers with no real organization and a focus on books over authors. You've already let it be a dumping ground of public domain authors, diluting any possible message that you are author-focused. Your author pages are okay, but they don't feel like a "homepage" for the user, partly because the URLs are ugly presumably SEO focused things (nickname-firstname-lastname; that's a lot of things), rather than author-focused personal brand choices. On top of that, your footer is a full third of the page of an Author with only a single book, making the page much more about you than them, and you've filled the page with your logos and your widgets such as login/signup, and including a floating "Need help?" button that also seems to be more about you than about the author, and another location for you to include your logo. Have you ever noticed how little Bandcamp brands itself on a band's page? The overall pixel count is pretty low, the number of widgets kept to a minimum (and pretty artist/album specific: buy, wishlist), used to be typically only a single tiny logo, and again the focus has always been on the artists.
If you are going to compare yourself to Bandcamp, it might be a good idea to get a better idea of what Bandcamp does right, and how they operate as a platform.
My pinning to Bandcamp's business model was purely from royalty sharing/transparency standpoint. Clearly it isn't quite spot-on and causing some confusion in the community.
The broad footer on profile pages will progress downwards as the user builds more work on the top, but I will definitely rethink its colors to make it less conspicuous initially.
At this point we're almost like a manual sweatshop publisher and we get involved with the writers directly to adapt their book(s) on web. I don't think we'll be in a position where we'll do what thousands of other websites are already doing i.e. force people to download files (or skip) and hope that those files will be opened and read somewhere someday.
It doesn't help the cause of an ordinary user (following simple Priority of Constituents here) and the general idea is that if the book is not on web, it's not accessible by default.
I'd be wary of using that phrase directly on your home page. That's definitely making use a of trademark you don't own - seems like a quick path to some legal trouble with bandcamp?
Any thoughts on adding discussions?
I'd also like you to add a lot of essays ;-)
Bug report: I verified my email, but it still tells me to do so. (Using on Macbook, validated from iPhone, so different device)
The ui seems considered and polished, works good on mobile for me
If possible can you just mention it somewhere, or just buy me a coffee instead: https://buymeacoff.ee/rinaldi
If however you're still uncomfortable about us using this experiment without a coffee, do let me know and we'll remove it from Bubblin completely. Just kidding, we'll sponsor you a coffee as well ;-)
Good luck with the product.
[edits] Hoping that site doesn't crash. brb.
https://www.demontfortliterature.com/ takes the opposing approach where they hire authors for a stable salary.
Meet Bubblin Superbooks, a social book reader for web. It's _iPad first_ and all the books (mostly public domain samples) work offline too using a service worker.
Hope you like it! :-)
Good/bad, all feedback is very welcome!
> Files are about encoding those rotten ideals and force
> them on the society.
> So why should e-books be files at all?
Well, without some kind of common format, you would need a browser always in order to reliably view a book. Browsers are pretty awful on e-readers...so you're basically forced to read a book from your phone or tablet through a browser with this concept.
Another problem is that unless the books are embeddable HTML, it's easy to imagine that your Bubblin formatting would not work well if I try to self-publish to say, my personal blog. So am I not just trading one proprietary file format for proprietary HTML/CSS/JS markup?
I like the vision. E-books can be so much more than they currently are and it would be neat to see more rich visualization and interactivity inside of reading experiences.
That is correct. At a very high-level we'd ultimately need to spec out a web standard to support books natively on web to avoid one proprietary format from another; like the video tag perhaps.
For now (though it is still unfinished, raw and very very early) we have a sister project called Bookiza.js  that let's you publish a Superbook on your own website using markdown or haml. :-)
So to me, the headline chosen here is very misleading.
hi, Sonica Arora, CTO of Bubblin here.
social is very critical to books, though I agree with you that with Bandcamp and in general with music it isn't so much. our store fees, transactions and writer-reader sale stuff and options will be just as transparent and simple as it is for Bandcamp.
thanks for sharing your views!
The right hand page (leaf?) says "Your browser does not seem to support WebGL. Find out how to get it here.". The error message is impossible to select and copy; it links to https://get.webgl.org/ which tells me my browser does support WebGL, showing the spinning cube.
Also, entering reader mode unexpectedly (ironically?) shows only a set of keyboard shortcuts, and this despite having no keyboard connected.
Using Brave on an iPad Pro.
Our next iteration of Bookiza early next year will solve all of these edge cases gracefully.
2. That book on Solar System is an extreme example. I'm loading the heaviest MathJax library on that page to render simple math formula. Katex would suffice there and the bug would be gone. :-)