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Old 09-19-2004, 10:26 PM   #1
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What would you pay for custom e-book conversions

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. 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.
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Old 09-19-2004, 10:32 PM   #2
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What formats are you looking at producing in?

Craig.
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:42 AM   #3
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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?
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:51 AM   #4
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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.

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Old 09-20-2004, 10:42 AM   #5
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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.
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Old 09-20-2004, 12:59 PM   #6
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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 and IMDB

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Old 09-20-2004, 01:15 PM   #7
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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 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.
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Old 09-20-2004, 02:56 PM   #8
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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
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Old 09-20-2004, 03:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harpgliss
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.

Quote:
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.
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Old 09-20-2004, 03:50 PM   #10
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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...
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Old 09-20-2004, 03:55 PM   #11
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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
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hacker
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.

Last edited by Laurens; 09-20-2004 at 04:41 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 09-20-2004, 04:53 PM   #13
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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...
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Old 09-20-2004, 05:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harpgliss
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.)
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Old 09-20-2004, 05:56 PM   #15
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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.
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