[FM Discuss] books and fm - need your thoughts!

Anne Gentle annegentle at gmail.com
Tue Jul 29 07:20:33 PDT 2008

I have some thoughts on this, from several different perspectives, so
I'm just going to put them out there as scenarios and see what you all

1. OLPC/Sugar/XO documentation - once we get a book series out of the
upcoming BookSprint, we'll want to print the collection. Which
organization or person is the "maintainer?" Especially consider that
we will remix the content from up to 20 manuals in order to get one

2. Let's say I have a book draft about conversation, community, and
documentation that I'd love to bring into FlossManuals just for the
print engine. I would consider myself to be the maintainer since I'm
the sole writer of this book (so far). Bringing it into a wiki could
help me gather more collaborators on the project, certainly, but by
defining who gets the money from potential book sales, it would help
me make a decision about whether to have FM "host" my book content.
It's 28,000 words and counting, so is there enough resources if I
would decide to license my book with the GPL, load it into Floss, and
start printing through LuLu?

After thinking through these scenarios, I think the best model since
the content is licensed with the GPL is that Floss keeps all profits
from books and thereby becomes a service provider. You're going to
have to troubleshoot the printing process anyway, to help out the
writers of the book.

When you say "Profits (if any) are managed by FM" do you mean you'd
parcel out profits to certain people and/or organizations, or keep it
to re-invest into FM? Here's one idea. If you decide to share profits
with writers, you could devise an algorithm that calculates a
percentage of profits - I'm thinking of "shares" of a book, I guess.
You could reward "shares" based on how much content writers
contribute. I'd also want to give shares to editors, as well, because
their value is high also. And then FM, as the service provider, keeps
the majority of the shares to reinvest into Floss.

As for Independent Sellers, are you talking about a model where Floss
is the storefront? I just read that 200 million people in the U.S.
alone have a book idea and want to write a book
in the comments, who knows the citation's origin or accuracy, but I
think they're onto something). There's certainly a market for
print-quality output, but is it one you want to support all those
people in HTML and layout and CSS? And will they be comfortable with
the GPL? I have no idea. :)

I also agree with Elisa's comments about the high responsibility level
of the maintainer - we wouldn't want to scare anyone away, but it
could require some expertise.

I think the strength areas of content going into FM are: content that
wants to be licensed with the GPL, content that wants to be in a wiki
with collaborative authoring capabilities, content that eventually
could be in a book. Content that people want to share in different
ways - online and printed. I'm sure there's a "sweet spot" for this
content, and I think you can find a good balance for rewarding people
for collaborating and sharing their content.

Hopefully this isn't too scattershot - I'm quite impressed with the
Objavi PDF generator and hope to give it more content soon!

On Mon, Jul 28, 2008 at 3:53 AM, adam hyde <adam at flossmanuals.net> wrote:
> hi,
> I just wanted to pitch-in with a few questions about how people would
> like to manage books in FM. This is a pretty important moment for FM as
> we are really about to enter into a very interesting new phase - book
> publishing. Its especially interesting as I don't see anyone on the map
> able to go direct from 'wiki' (FM is at its heart a wiki) to polished
> books as easily as we can. So...discussion on this is really important
> for the shaping of what we are doing as we are cutting new ground and
> there are no established models that we can follow.
> So please chime in with your thoughts, small, big or otherwise!
> A short update first...It seems like the automated PDF generator
> (Objavi) is working nicely. Brianna made a Wikimedia Commons manual in
> FM and then uploaded this to lulu.com and its looking lovely. Its the
> first book made using Objavi and I got the thumbs up from FMs designer
> (Lotte) so it passed the FM good-design certification process :)
> There is just one undocumented feature (ah, yes, Joshua we might even
> call this one a bug ;) to sort out with the generator and how it manages
> embedded fonts, but when this is done then I think we have a pretty
> astonishing mechanism in place for producing books straight out of FM.
> The question that needs to be addressed now is how are books to be
> managed.
> The first thing to remember is that all the sources in FM are GPL so
> anyone can make a book out of FM and do what they like with it. The
> first question to answer then is what exactly is a FM book? Is it
> something made in FM and sold in FM, or is it something broader? I can,
> for example, imagine several scenarios, none of which are exclusive (nor
> is it an exhaustive list of possibilities) but we may wish to prefer
> some approaches more than others.
> So... here are three of the main possibilities I have thought of, please
> critique and throw in other possibilities...
> *FM Book Shop*
> This is the most traditional model. FM produces a series of books and
> sells them online or possibly strikes up distribution deals with book
> shops. This would be managed 'by FM' (in this case me really unless
> someone puts their hand-up as we don't have anyone else working fulltime
> for FM). Profits (if any) are managed by FM (me again unless someone
> else wishes to take charge of book sales).
> *Maintainer Seller*
> What books are made and sold are determined by the Maintainer(s) of each
> manual. How they are sold is also determined by the same person(s).
> Profits (if any) are managed by the Maintainers.
> *Independent Seller*
> Possibly the least traditional - we endorse _anyone_ to make and sell
> the books. In this case we provide the sources for the book and if
> someone wants to sell the books using any method and at any price then
> we say go for it. Profits (if any) go directly to the seller.
> There are questions associated with each model. I have some thoughts on
> these already but I would rather not shape the discussion with questions
> about each here.
> ok... _your_thoughts please!
> :)
> adam
> --
> Adam Hyde
> FLOSS Manuals
> http://www.flossmanuals.net
> + 31 6 2808 7108
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