The Book Unbound at the Electric Bookshop

August 7th, 2012 by prm | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Book Unbound at the Electric Bookshop
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As regular readers of this blog might be aware, some of the staff and students at the Stirling Centre for International Publishing and Communication have been busy this summer, working on an AHRC-funded research project entitled ‘The Book Unbound: Disruption and disintermediation in the digital age.’ The iPad app which forms part of this project is going to be showcased at the Electric Bookshop, a quarterly event that brings together people from the worlds of publishing, technology and design and is hosted at Inspace in Edinburgh. We’re looking forward to discussing the editorial, creative and production processes that went into the making of the app, and demonstrating how we’ve worked with new technologies to create our own publication. If you would like to attend this free event, please do book a place here.

Creating an app: the initial stages

July 12th, 2012 by Paula_Morris | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on Creating an app: the initial stages
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The months have whizzed by since our first meetings in February with Claire Squires and Padmini Ray Murray to discuss the parameters of the AHRC Book Unbound  project.

Neither Scott Russell nor I live in Stirling, so our first production meeting was a phone call one chilly Monday in late February, where we discussed everything from mission statements to page counts, Twitter feeds to job descriptions. As Scott mentioned in his blog post, we presented these job descriptions, along with a call for content, to the Publishing and Creative Writing students, and waited for their response.

In March, the full steering committee – the Gang of Four – met to discuss the applicants for the project assistant roles. We had a lot of CVs and ideas to sift through, but we soon agreed on the three most suitable candidates: Helen Lewis-McPhee as Associate Editor, and two Production Assistants, Louisa Preston and Aileen Taylor. Our aim was to create a balanced team, with a range of experience (and, hopefully, some good ideas).

Our fleshed-out production team met in April, in a typically dispiriting university conference room. We gathered around the white board and discussed practical issues – like information-sharing via Podio and Dropbox – as well as creative ones. What kind of content could we expect for the app we were developing? What kind of attributes did we want the finished product to have? How would everything work together? What could we call this thing?

At this stage, Scott said, no idea was out of bounds. (‘Out of Bounds’: one of our title ideas!) Everything went up on the white board. We agreed that none of the title ideas were quite the thing, but that was OK. Maybe something would emerge from the content, or from the process of reading and working with the content. Two-and-a-half months later, we still don’t have a title. It’s still OK. I’m confident that something will strike one – or all – of us, as the app continues to take shape and come to life.


The Book Unbound – a short introduction

June 26th, 2012 by Scott_Russell | Posted in Blog | Comments Off on The Book Unbound – a short introduction
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The Book Unbound project aims to research the impact of new, digital technologies on the process of publishing and to create an iPad app demonstrating some of these technologies.

The idea was developed within the Centre for International Publishing Studies at University of Stirling in mid 2011. In late 2011 the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) called for research projects based around the concept of digital transformations. The Publishing Studies team, led by Professor Claire Squires, saw this as an opportunity to integrate the app idea with more formal academic research. We wrote a proposal and submitted it in November 2011.

After the AHRC approved the project this February, we assembled our project team: Claire Squires and Padmini Ray Murray from Publishing (carrying out case studies); Scott Russell (designing and developing the iPad app); and author Paula Morris, a lecturer in Stirling’s Creative Writing programme (editing and writing).

On 29 March the project was presented to postgraduate students in Publishing Studies and Creative Writing, and the students were invited to apply for several project assistant jobs. Claire introduced the project, Paula Morris described the opportunities for potential content providers, and Scott Russell demonstrated the proposed software platform, Adobe Digital Publishing Suite.

DPS was chosen for several reasons. As part of Adobe’s InDesign page layout application, Digital Publishing Suite allows iPad apps to be developed without using coding or other bespoke development services. This simplifies the production process and makes app development available to a wide variety of publishers. As the industry-leading page layout application, InDesign is already used by many publishers to create books and magazines.

Pricing for DPS is also multi-tiered with a low cost entry level, making it very competitive with traditional printing and making app development a possibility for individuals and small organisations. We chose to develop an app over an ebook as the interactive features offered by the app format offered more scope for transformation than those of an ebook.

The project has a fairly short deadline – the end of August 2012 – so the project group immediately set about creating a production plan, developing designs and creating a call for entries.