A Reason to Buy Books: Living Books

I am a big fan of the unbook concept, popularized by Dave Gray among others. I am currently in the process of trying to turn my Inner Chapters audio essays into a book and not surprisingly am using the unbook model since it so closely mirrors the open source software model with which I am already so familiar.

Mike Masnick at Techdirt links to an essay by Mike Shatzkin that explores the idea of a so-called living book, which sounds like an unbook to me, as a means to foil piracy or, to put it more constructively, to give people a reason to buy the book.

I actually really like how Shatzkin suggests that the bigger market authors who stand the most to lose financially from piracy are also in the best position to add a perpetually updated dimension to their works that would help sustain interest from a buying public. I think we are already seeing this from clueful authors, both large and small, who understand viscerally how being a steady source of information, not just in instantly stale print or digital editions of their works, can drive a much more strongly thriving audience and rewarding career, financially and otherwise.

The Inner Chapters Podiobook and Unbook

My blog client ate the earlier version of this post, so bear with me as I re-write it from memory.

Several listeners have asked for the Inner Chapters segments as either standalone audio files or as text of some kind.  I’ve given these ideas quite a bit of thought and decided to work on both.  They are the reason I mentioned tweaking the production schedule for the podcast to free up some time.

I have just about completed the first episode of standalone audio.  The work involved is thankfully less than I expected.  After an afternoon in the lab, I have a project template with new intro, outro and bed music.  I should be able to produce an episode or two a week which is a good sustainable rate for a podiobook.  I’ll be submitting my first episode for review to that service this coming week.  I am testing the waters with a first volume of about ten or twelve episodes.  If it goes well, I’ll publish additional volumes until all of the existing segments have been re-released.

I am also thinking about archival CDs through PodDisc.  I need to either clear the music I’m using in the podiobook which is royalty-free only for non-commercial use or find some alternative music I can use for a commercial work.

For the text version, I have started an unbook, an idea described and explored by Jay Cross and Dave Gray.  To support this effort, I have set up a wiki.  Right now, the focus of the work is gathering all the material together in the form of my outlined notes and transcriptions of the audio.  You can help out by registering and reading the how to help section on the main page of the wiki.  Registration is required for editing only to help foil spammers and vandals, pseudonymous registrations are fine.

I plan to divide the textual material up into volumes as well.  Part of what I’ll be figuring out is how to organize the material best, probably along thematic lines.  It’s early days, yet, and I’m not even sure how long the first volume will take.  Transcription is just the first step, I am sure the material will need much re-writing and editing.

So far, Michael aka [si]dragon has been invaluable.  Not only has he been transcribing at a machine-like pace but he has helped clarify my thoughts and suggestions for future contributors.  Check the discussion page on the main topic for our discussions.  Edit that discussion to ask any questions you might have for me on conventions, coordination, etc.

I’ll post updates here as both projects progress.