View Full Version : What would you pay for custom e-book conversions


hacker
09-19-2004, 10:26 PM
I've been fielding a LOT of requests lately for custom works in eBook format. Many of you have seen my 9/11 Commission Report (http://downloads.plkr.org/911_Report.html). That work apparently gained the attention of several very large companies who want their material converted in a similarly-professional manner. In fact, so many are interested, that I've started another company to handle it (can't say anything more on that right now).

But two of the largest works we've been asked to do, are the Wikipedia and IMDB, in a standalone mobile format.

Wikipedia required a LOT of rehandling of the upstream MediaWiki source, which I updated to fix quite a few problems. The approach taken by EVERY other attempt to get this Wikipedia content into a manageable format for the Palm size/memory, is wrong. I've seen several Perl scripts that try to take the SQL dump and translate that back into HTML. Bzzt.

We took a completely different approach (and one that will continue to transparently scale, including images), and we've been very successful so far.

IMDB is another sizable work. To redistribute it, requires extensive licensing, so we can't just give that away for free, without something to cover our costs to license the material.

So the question I'm proposing here is...What are each of these two works worth to you?
What would you pay for IMDB, the FULL IMDB, on your Palm?

What if it was delivered on its own custom, branded SD card?

How much would the full Wikipedia, including images, be worth?

Are there other quality works you'd consider paying for?
Any other suggestions for works of this nature are welcome. Either respond here, or email me directly.

I'm working on 3 of these custom works right now (one, very timely, must be out this month, or the whole effort is wasted). I've now successfully partnered with 1/2 dozen companies who are very interested in these "custom" conversions of their works to formats suitable for handhelds. There's a lot of interest, and we're gaining more and more partners every week, it seems.

But I need your help, your suggestions and your input. Let me know how we can make the whole process better, and continue to provide better and better material for you, the reader.

cbarnett
09-19-2004, 10:32 PM
What formats are you looking at producing in?

Craig.

hacker
09-20-2004, 12:42 AM
I'm open, actually.

I'd like to be able to satisfy a wide audience, but some formats require a lot more handling and have more limitations/features than others. Initially, I would probably target Plucker and iSilo, since they are the most feature-rich in terms of representing this type of content best. They would also be secured, so that they could not be beamed to other users or installed on multiple user's devices without a proper license, of course (IMDB is enforcing this in one of our cases).

Do you have a suggestion for other formats that should be considered?

cbarnett
09-20-2004, 12:51 AM
The security restricts formats somewhat (ruling out formats like repligo or chm for example). Mobipocket would be a good addition to the supported formats, though. I'm not sure about M$ reader or ereader, but they might be options too.

Craig.

Brad
09-20-2004, 10:42 AM
I regard to pricing, I think you would have look at the competition: Britannica Concise Encyclopedia $29.95 on an SD card; of similar value to the Wikipedia might also be the Oxford English Dictionary and you can get that and the the Thesaurus at $20. The Wikipedia might contain more info but it is harder to sell the public on that because the Britannica name is so respected.

IMDB is harder to judge. Film buffs would love it, but many like me would just wait and use the online edition for free if it was too pricey.

I do like the idea of having the choice of downloading or SD cards if possible.

As far as formats go, i can really see iSilo, Plucker and Mobipocket being useful for this. You should probably consider MSReader's .lit if you can.

Jorgen
09-20-2004, 12:59 PM
Before deciding, it may be worth having a look at TomeRaider as this reader is built to deal with information in encyclopedia format. I builds an index for fast lookups. Memoware has both the suggested databases in TomeRaider format:
Wikipedia (http://www.memoware.com/?screen=doc_detail&doc_id=13861&p=title^!wiki~!description^!wiki~!author^!wiki~!fo rmat^!TomeRaider~!date_added^!0~!rating^!0~!) and IMDB (http://www.memoware.com/?screen=search_results&p=title^!imdb~!description^!imdb~!author^!imdb~!)

Jorgen

hacker
09-20-2004, 01:15 PM
Unfortunately, TomeRaider can only handle plain text, period. It doesn't handle HTML, or rich text formatting features that are present in marked-up formats. It is for this reason, TomeRaider isn't even in the top-10 formats we would consider supporting. It failed every test we ran against it for converting this content. It would be an enormous undertaking to reconvert the entire collection to plain text, and reflow all of the text accordingly, to support this very limited reader format.

The IMDB version of the content, supplied by ProPorta, has been modified quite a bit, and may have put them in violation of the IMDB Terms and Conditions (http://www.imdb.com/conditions) by doing so. They claim they have permission, but I don't see that grant in their .tr file for these modifications. A minor thing. I also sincerely doubt they paid the $10k yearly licensing fees, while still distributing the content for free.

But they also don't include any images or rich cross-linking between movies, actors, and other elements. I can't search by Actor, Movie, Date, or other criteria with their version. In short, it is much more limited than the one we are targeting.

Their Wikipedia data is missing a LOT of common words that have been present in the Wikipedia archive for a couple of years now. That too, is a major deficiency, as is the inability to crosslink between items (a problem with TomeRaider's plain-text format).

Its a good start for them, but we've way surpassed this with much more capabilities in our selections, as many know from past works I've announced here.

Harpgliss
09-20-2004, 02:56 PM
Hi,

I know I will probably be hammered here but here goes.

Is there any chance of MobileRead to recieve a chunk of the profits from your products as well as others who,in essence, use this forum for free advertising.

Not trying to start a philosophical argument and just wanted an answer here from Hacker or other developers who are "peddling " their wares here and not paying for the publicity they receive here.

Peace,

David

hacker
09-20-2004, 03:06 PM
Is there any chance of MobileRead to recieve a chunk of the profits from your products as well as others who,in essence, use this forum for free advertising.No, none. We don't use any of the commercial ESD sites for any of our distribution, because frankly, we disagree with their morality. We don't do this for profit, we do it to help spread information to users who want/need it.

Not trying to start a philosophical argument and just wanted an answer here from Hacker or other developers who are "peddling " their wares here and not paying for the publicity they receive here.I have yet to "peddle my wares" on any forum or website. Look around, all of it is free (as in cost). The only cost we would impose on any of the work, would be to offset our time and any licensing costs we have to pay ourselves, from upstream use of copyrighted content.

Which is exactly why I proposed this question here, to spark a discussion (philosophical or otherwise) to see what it would be worth to you to own such a work.

If it isn't worth enough for us to continue working on it, we'll stop the effort, cold.

gadgetguru
09-20-2004, 03:50 PM
Frankly, while I really want to have Wikipedia on my PDA, I am waiting for Tome Raider 3 not a standalone product. If Tome Raider 3 can handle Wikipedia, the same way Tome Raider PPC can, I am satisfied and would bought it over any Wikipedia standalone. Never mind that it doesn't include images since it not a priority for me. And with imageless Wikipedia at 180MB, what size would one with images be? Unless I have invested in a 1 GB card or Microdrives (for PPC), that would not be an option.

So selling Wikipedia on SD card could be pricey, all that Megabytes. As download, maybe $9.95-$14.99 would be a fair price but you may have to handle multi-gigabytes download because of its Gargatuan size. It may also be nice (if it sells plenty) if a portion of the proceeds over your bandwidth costs and developing costs be donated to the Wikipedia Foundation.

No, I am not really interested in IMDB. I already have Leonard Martin's from Landware and it's already suit my needs...

Harpgliss
09-20-2004, 03:55 PM
Hi,

Hacker,thank you for your reply.

Didn't mean to single you out and I hope to hear from other developers (MobiPocket, Isilo, and others) who have come here to "advertise".

I do not mean to hijack your thread here and hope,if it is deemed,that this gets it's own thread.

Thank you for clarifying your position and good luck with these projects.

Peace,

David

Laurens
09-20-2004, 04:37 PM
Unfortunately, TomeRaider can only handle plain text, period. It doesn't handle HTML, or rich text formatting features that are present in marked-up formats. It is for this reason, TomeRaider isn't even in the top-10 formats we would consider supporting. It failed every test we ran against it for converting this content. It would be an enormous undertaking to reconvert the entire collection to plain text, and reflow all of the text accordingly, to support this very limited reader format.

The new TomeRaider 3 (which is in beta, see the link on their site) does support rich text formatting. I tried it with the sample documents and was very impressed. TR3 might very well become the new standard for viewing references on handhelds.

Per the beta license you're not allowed to talk about it in depth, so I won't.

gadgetguru
09-20-2004, 04:53 PM
Can't wait to get my hands on the final version of Tome Raider 3. As I will be trying the beta version soon, guess that means I will have to clam up about discussing TR further too...

Laurens
09-20-2004, 05:56 PM
Is there any chance of MobileRead to recieve a chunk of the profits from your products as well as others who,in essence, use this forum for free advertising.

I would certainly want to pay for cost-per-click advertising on MobileRead or any other site for handheld enthusiasts, provided the costs are reasonable of course. (A royalty percentage would be unacceptable, though.) Any chance of placing Google ads or other types of ads here, Alexander? Other sites like PIC and 1src also have ads. What's your position on this?

(I think we'll have to start another thread for this discussion.)

hacker
09-20-2004, 05:56 PM
I just tried the latest beta for TomeRaider, and while the installer for TomeRaider3 (3.16) works well, but it doesn't do much more than that. It can't import plain text files (even those as simple as a text-based email message). It also can't seem to convert existing .tr files from stock TomeRaider files. I tried this on clean, pristine, Windows 2000, XP, and 2003 boxes (my stock, cleaned-and-patched VMware images).

Once they get those parts working, I'm sure it'll be a really useful product for existing TomeRaider 2.x customers.

Unregistered
09-21-2004, 01:39 AM
just do it in Repligo and everybody can do it themselves

cbarnett
09-21-2004, 02:22 AM
I must admit, I like Repligo as an option. It supports links within the document and externally to urls, document and personal bookmarks, the ability to highlight and add notes, as well as being fully searchable.

It would be big though.

Craig.

JB2
09-21-2004, 03:36 AM
I would definately be willing to pay for Wikipedia for ISILO or Plucker (I personally don't like Mobireader) anywhere from 5 to 25 USD. I have been waiting for this for a very long time. Please let me know when it is available.

JB

Alexander Turcic
09-21-2004, 05:03 AM
With the risk of drifting away from the topic... I'll be considering adding something like Google Ads when traffic increases by so much that I cannot handle it anymore by myself. However, I'll also always try to avoid cluttering our site with too many ads or banners.

Thanks for sharing your concern about funding Mobileread! I will come to it when necessary.

I would certainly want to pay for cost-per-click advertising on MobileRead or any other site for handheld enthusiasts, provided the costs are reasonable of course. (A royalty percentage would be unacceptable, though.) Any chance of placing Google ads or other types of ads here, Alexander? Other sites like PIC and 1src also have ads. What's your position on this?

(I think we'll have to start another thread for this discussion.)

Mobipocket
09-21-2004, 06:19 AM
Before deciding, it may be worth having a look at TomeRaider as this reader is built to deal with information in encyclopedia format. I builds an index for fast lookups. Memoware has both the suggested databases in TomeRaider format:
Wikipedia (http://www.memoware.com/?screen=doc_detail&doc_id=13861&p=title^!wiki~!description^!wiki~!author^!wiki~!fo rmat^!TomeRaider~!date_added^!0~!rating^!0~!) and IMDB (http://www.memoware.com/?screen=search_results&p=title^!imdb~!description^!imdb~!author^!imdb~!)

Jorgen

The Mobipocket Reader has the same indexing capabilities, and you can also find the Wikipedia in Mobipocket format.
There is also the "Probert Encyclopaedia" on sale on the Mobipocket eBookStore, with illustrations.

Jorgen
09-21-2004, 05:41 PM
I understand that you are making high quality products and having Wikipedia in a nice layout sounds great - personally, I would probably not be interested in the film database. Any idea how large the Wikipedia would be in for example iSilo format (my preference unless an index is necessary), with and without pictures? I used to carry an encyclopedia from Memoware but now prefer to carry a library around on my SD cards.

Do you have a small sample we could download showing what it could look like or don't you want to give ideas to the competition until finished?

Jorgen

Bob Russell
10-17-2004, 12:06 PM
Hacker,

I would gladly pay $25 for a professional ebook rendition of the Harvard Classics 5 shelves of books (http://www.mensetmanus.net/inspiration/fifteen_minutes_a_day/index.shtml). It's available online from Bartleby in HTML form (http://www.bartleby.com/hc/).

It's probably the most classic, well-conceived and respected collection of reading available. In fact, reading them was compared to having a full college liberal arts education. I probabaly got that a little wrong, but something like that.

Even better would be if book by book detailed commentaries could be integrated, but I'm afraid something like that is likely to be beyond even your capabilities. :( No, I don't have a source for such commentaries or even know how to find them. I would be thrilled if someone can point me to a place where they exist.

Bob

hacker
10-17-2004, 12:47 PM
Even better would be if book by book detailed commentaries could be integrated, but I'm afraid something like that is likely to be beyond even your capabilities. :( No, I don't have a source for such commentaries or even know how to find them. I would be thrilled if someone can point me to a place where they exist.Did I just hear a challenge? "Beyond even my capabilities?" <grin>

Bob, consider this on my short list of things to produce for this year. Your enthusiasm is contagious! <grin>

Bob Russell
10-17-2004, 01:03 PM
You can't see it, but there's a huge smile on my face! That might have been a bit of a challenge, but I don't doubt that you can do what seems impossible. :)

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with, and hope that a lot of people get the opportunity to use it.

Much thanks Hacker!

aCC
01-10-2005, 08:43 AM
@BobR:

Did you see the link on the page you were linking to? It says "Also check out the Portable Harvard Classics (Geocities)" and links to http://www.geocities.com/the_harvard_classics/

hacker
01-10-2005, 08:50 AM
Heh, I've gotten significantly farther than the person on Geocities has done so far, and the formats I'm converting to are not proprietary or restricted by DRM... More news on this soon.

Bob Russell
01-10-2005, 09:08 AM
@BobR:

Did you see the link on the page you were linking to? It says "Also check out the Portable Harvard Classics (Geocities)" and links to http://www.geocities.com/the_harvard_classics/

@aCC - Good find. I am aware of that work. It's very nice, and I've been in touch with the guy who is doing the work. He's doing it at a leisurely pace as he has time, and is really just getting started, but I've asked him to share some info to post here at MobileRead. He seemed interested in that, but hasn't gotten back to me, so I'm glad you put the link "on record" here!

But I've already personally committed myself to purchase Hacker's version (as in my previous post), and the work he does is really exceptional so I'm looking forward to it very much.

@Hacker... I'm really excited to hear that it's still one of your projects!!!! Can't wait to see what it looks like :)

Gatton
01-10-2005, 10:00 PM
Hey BobR...got your checkbook ready? ;-)

I've seen hacker's excellent work on the 9/11 Commission Report and would love to see how this turns out. hacker, will this be available in iSilo? Or something easily converted into iSilo?

I look forward to seeing your results and also wouldn't mind throwing a few bucks your way for your troubles. I'd love to have the Easton Press (http://eastonpresscatalog.com/ViewProduct.asp?Sku=0286&Back=1) edition of these great works.* In the meantime I anxiously await hacker's version.

*For those of you keeping track at home...that beautiful Easton Press edition works out to $3200 USD. Let's hope our friend charges less than that ;-)

Bob Russell
01-10-2005, 10:29 PM
Hey BobR...got your checkbook ready? ;-)Yep, it's ready! I do admit my checkbook doesn't come out very easily for anything, but it's ready to go for this one! And I'm sure Hacker will be very reasonable with whatever he decides to do with the pricing.

mike
01-11-2005, 08:45 PM
Heh, I've gotten significantly farther than the person on Geocities has done so far, and the formats I'm converting to are not proprietary or restricted by DRM... More news on this soon.

It would seem that great minds think alike. I am the creator of the website in question and am surprised that it has become an item of discussion. My original intent was to just make it available in case anyone might be interested. I am glad it is even being looked at! :smiley2:

I don't know what DRM is, as I am only doing this as a hobby. While the format may be proprietary, the tools I use to create the books have cost me anything. I use the free eReader, available for PalmSource I think, to read the books. To create them, I use notepad, and the free DropBook, and code the books by hand. Because everything about them is free, so are they. They are just taking a little while.

For personal interest, I am trying to mimic the look of the Bartleby versions as much as possible, including chapters, formating and footnotes. It's the footnotes that take the most time. Over 300 in some books! But it is a labor of love, because I truly love these books.

Anyone who may have been to the site may have noticed a little incongruity. The Harvard Classics are available as 1. The Five foot Shelf and 2. The Shelf of Fiction. After doing some research I have decided to add another section based on articles and submission to Harvard Magazine. It is a collection of 29 new volumes, based on suggestions to Harvard Magazine of which books would bring the collection into the 21st century. I have called it The Century Collection. Presumptuous? Sacreligious? Scandalous? Maybe, but it sure is fun!

Cheers

Mike

Gatton
01-11-2005, 11:25 PM
Hey mike welcome to Mobileread!
Any effort of this type is always appreciated by others who are of a like mind. I know it is tedious work but you obviously enjoy doing it and others will benefit from it as well. I don't believe that your effort and hacker's will be wasted effort since I assume they'll be available in different formats. Plain text is always appreciated since though it isn't pretty at least it can be read anywhere and converted to anything. So I thank you for that!

Thanks again for sharing your work and I hope you'll post a comment or two when you have time.

Take care,
-Gatton

hacker
01-12-2005, 01:20 AM
To keep the drool flowing, here are some examples of works I have created over the last month or so.. "quick hits". There are a lot more coming, so stay tuned for a busy 1Q2005!

Many of these are tests of a new set of tools I'm building to handle these kinds of works, in conjunction with human eyes and editing. I have a big surprise to launch soon, if all goes well over the next month or so.

Take a look and give me your feedback. Anti-aliased fonts in Plucker:
http://code.plkr.org/aa/

Creating XPCOM Components
http://code.plkr.org/xpcom/

Version Control with Subversion
http://code.plkr.org/svn/

mobileQuote
http://code.plkr.org/mq/

dictoPlucker (this needs a new name, suggestions?)
http://code.plkr.org/dp/
There are many other projects of this quality that I'm working on as well. Its fun stuff, and I strongly believe in it. I hope my efforts aren't wasted.

lasseelady
01-14-2005, 09:59 PM
Hello there,
Would you mind helping me out here? I have e-books on my website, www.markraney.com. At present, the short stories I have on my website are in
MS Word. I have talked with Bob here at MobileRead and he advises that a good format to use would be isilo found at www.isilo.com . My question is, since I am not a web designer and have no idea how this works, could you tell me - how does this program work? Do I need to go in and convert all my stories to this format individually or can a person viewing my site go to a link - sort of like adobe and download with that, I hate to be so dumb but this is out of my league but I must find out.
Lasseelady
MarkRaney.com
markraney@markraney.com

Team7
01-15-2005, 04:31 AM
Last time I used it it worked like this. You save the webpage as an html file. Then you can just open isilo and select that saved html file and it will convert it to an isilo file for you. Anyone who axeses your webpage can do this so there is no need for you to do it.

Rainer
07-07-2006, 11:24 AM
hi is there any wikipedia conversion for s60 devices? i know there is a german wikipedia conversion for mobipocket, can you remake such conversion, only in english? (i dont undersand german!)
thanks

Rainer
07-13-2006, 10:11 AM
hi is there a way to make a template in isilo so i can store just 1 template AND the data instead of thousands of similar .html pages? (e.g. imdb or wikipedia sites...)
thank u

Rainer
07-28-2006, 06:41 AM
hi
i dont have a clue on how compression settings/options work in compressing a website into isilo format.
ive tried compressing reference sites and information is accessible but contains also alot of junk html formatting/tables/adverting that i want to eliminate from my archive.
are there some pre-made settings or scripts that i can run to automatically convert large websites into isilo?
thx

Cthulhu
10-28-2006, 02:42 PM
Hi all.

So this may have been covered in many other threads, and if so I apologise:

Is there a market for legally licenses privately/personally requested etext?

If there is, I'd love to know about it and whom I need to bug or bribe to have a private party (like hacker) OCR or whatever texts that are not currently available.
Sadly, I imagine that will all the hullabaloo regarding DRM--& I fully understand their intent, but disagree with implementation--precludes this possibility.