"publishing tools" entries

Shakespeare and the myth of publishing

Reinventing publishing: what can we do now that we're no longer tied to the myth of stable literary objects?

Note: this post started as a Foo Camp 2013 session.

A few weeks ago, Tim O’Reilly sent around a link to Who Edited Shakespeare?, which discussed the editor for the First Folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays. It included a lot of evidence that someone had done a lot of work regularizing spelling and doing other tasks that we’d now assign to a copyeditor or a proofreader, presumably more work than the Folio’s nominal editors, Heminges and Condell, were inclined to do or capable of doing.

It’s an interesting argument that prompted some thoughts about the nature of publishing. The process of editing creates the impression, the mythology, that a carefully crafted, consistent, and stable text exists for these plays, that the plays are static literary objects. We like to think that there is a “good” Shakespeare text, if only we had it: what Shakespeare actually wrote, and what was actually performed on stage. We have a mess of good quarto editions, bad quartos, the First Folio, apocryphal works, and more. Some versions of the plays are significantly longer than others; some scholars believe that we’re missing significant parts of Macbeth (Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, for which the First Folio is the only source). Perhaps the worst case is Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus, which is known entirely through two early print editions, one roughly 50% longer than the other.

I’m skeptical about whether the search for a hypothetical authoritative version of Shakespeare’s text is meaningful. Shakespeare’s plays were, first and foremost, plays: they were performances staged before a live audience. If you’ve had any involvement with theater, you can imagine how that goes: “Act III, Scene iv dragged; let’s cut it next time. Act V, Scene i was great, but too short; let’s fill it out some.” The plays, as staged events, were infinitely flexible. In the years after Shakespeare, poor editors have certainly done a lot to mangle them, but I’m sure that Shakespeare himself, as a theater professional and partner in a theater company, was constantly messing around with the text.

Read more…

Comments: 8

Saving publishing, one tweet at a time

Helping both readers and writers look good on social media.

Traffic comes to online publishers in two ways: search and social. Because of this, writing for the tweet is a new discipline every writer and editor must learn. You’re not ready to publish until you find the well crafted headline that fits in 100 characters or so, and pick an image that looks great shared at thumbnail size on Facebook and LinkedIn.

But what of us, the intelligent reader? Nobody wants to look like a retweet bot for publishers. The retweet allows us no space to say why we ourselves liked an article.

Those of us with time to dedicate are familiar with crafting our own awkward commentaries: “gr8 insight in2 state of mob,” “saw ths tlk last Feb,” “govt fell off fiscal clf”. Most of the time it’s easier just to bookmark, or hit “read later,” and not put in the effort to share.

Rescue is at hand. The writer and programmer Paul Ford has created a bookmarklet, entitled Save Publishing. On activating the bookmarklet while viewing an article you wish to share, it highlights and makes clickable all the tweetable phrases from the page. Read more…

Comments: 3

O'Reilly ebooks now optimized for Kindle Fire

O'Reilly Mobi files have been upgraded to meet the specs of Amazon's KF8 format.

If your O'Reilly ebook bundle includes a Mobi file, you can now download a KF8-compliant file. These updated files take advantage of the Kindle Fire's functionality.

Comments: 3
We're in the midst of a restructuring of the publishing universe (don't panic)

We're in the midst of a restructuring of the publishing universe (don't panic)

Hugh McGuire says the disruption publishing has endured is a mere hint of what's to come.

Hugh McGuire, co-author of "Book: A Futurist's Manifesto," explains why publishing's digital transformation goes way beyond format shifts. He also reveals nine ways the publishing industry will change over the next five years.

Comments: 4
Publishing News: Fantasy author is out for blood

Publishing News: Fantasy author is out for blood

An embargoed book leaked, Amazon bought The Book Depository, and why page flipping is a drag

In the latest Publishing News: George RR Martin wants a head on a spike, Amazon's purchase of The Book Depository is being challenged, and Pete Meyers has ideas on how images and text could work better together.

Comments: 2
Images and text need to get together

Images and text need to get together

Publishing tools should address the obvious, like layering text over images.

Callouts and captions enhance visuals, but some publishing tools make it difficult to mix images and text. That needs to change.

Comments: 3