[Bookreader] Sharing books and Gnubook

raj kumar rkumar at archive.org
Wed Feb 4 03:50:16 EST 2009

On Jan 24, 2009, at 7:58 AM, Samuel Klein wrote:

> That said, a standalone gnubook reader would be excellent, and Raj
> suggested it might be on the horizon.  Raj/Anand, any thoughts on how
> easy that would be?

Hi all,

Sorry for not getting back sooner. We've been busy trying to keep the  
cluster up and running...

I don't actually know much about XO development, but based on our  
testing of GnuBook on the olpc, I think we have a long ways to go to  
get something that works well.

I think we have a lot of challenges. At the Internet Archive, we have  
been focused on collecting materials. We now have more than a million  
books on archive.org, and we are scanning 1000 books/day in 18  

Challenge #1: appropriate content. The majority of the books we have  
are pre-1923 and in English. Are these books going to be useful on the  
OLPC? I've been struggling with this one for a long time and I think  
this is where organizations like CK12 come in. Brewster and I met with  
CK12 today and were amazed at the work they are doing in creating CC- 
licensed modern textbooks. We hope they can take books from  
archive.org and revise, localize, and modernize them using their  
talented authors, their wiki system, and their flexbook system. The  
math textbooks might be a good start.

Challenge #2: curriculum. We have one million books on archive.org.  
How can a teacher select a subset of books and create a bundle for  
offline use on the student's OLPCs? Our Children's Library has more  
than 3000 books: http://www.archive.org/details/iacl. We have scanned  
thousands of textbooks. How can we find the right ones for the OLPC?  
We are hoping that we can build upon our Bookmark Explorer for this: http://www.archive.org/bookmarks-explore.php

Challenge #3: bookreader software. We've got a lot to do here. We have  
been concentrating on scanning books, and are just getting our feet  
wet with GnuBook. We are trying to get it in decent shape, and are  
working off this buglist: https://bugs.launchpad.net/gnubook/+bugs
Once we get some of the showstopper bugs fixed, we can embed the  
bookreader on archive.org and openlilbrary.org.

While we work on squashing GnuBook bugs and adding some key features,  
can someone else look at taking the code and packaging it as a  
standalone olpc activity? Our code lives here: http://github.com/openlibrary/bookreader/tree/master

I have a happy note to end on: last week I read a book cover-to-cover  
in the GnuBook reader on a mac laptop. I had the book open as a PDF at  
the same time, and the experience of reading an entire book in the  
online bookreader was much smoother than reading it as a pdf. The pdf  
was very clunky. IA image-based pdfs are especially slow to render.  
This is the first time I've actually been able to read an entire book  
online. Usually I give up and print them out on a book printer. Now  
that we can match the experience of reading an offline pdf in the  
online bookreader, I hope we can take it a lot further and make  
reading a book on a computer something that everyone will enjoy doing,  
on all platforms.


> On Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 10:58 AM, Samuel Klein <sj at laptop.org> wrote:
>> Alternately, if you are using a Browse shell to read books in gnubook
>> format, as long as both you and a friend store the book in its  
>> default
>> named location, you should be able to share a [local file] URL and
>> have it display properly on both machines.  In both this case and the
>> pdf use case, you have to solve the problem of exchanging the file
>> being shared before sharing -- either a pdf or a zipfile or an xo[l]
>> bundle.
>> For the WP activity, you exchange the entire xo bundle before  
>> sharing.
>> Note that we want to merge xo and xol bundles asap; as with
>> activities, collections require both parties to have obtained a copy
>> of the bundle before sharing a collaborative session in which you use
>> it with others.
>> SJ
>> On Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 10:51 AM, Sayamindu Dasgupta
>> <sayamindu at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Hello,
>>> I was looking at the books in the
>>> http://openlibrary.org/static/olpc_bundle/openlibrary.xol, and the
>>> interface looks cool :).
>>> However, one of the central concepts in the XO software which always
>>> manages to fascinate me is sharing, and I'm not sure how books in  
>>> the
>>> xol bundle can be shared.
>>> Has there been any thoughts on how this can be achieved (especially,
>>> if we consider reading the books in the bundle with something, like
>>> for example, Read)
>>> From what I understand, each of these books are already available as
>>> PDF files. In that case, does it make more sense to include PDFs in
>>> the bundle, instead of what is being provided currently? This would
>>> mean that we will not be able to get of the superawesome interface,
>>> but kids will be able to share the books if they want (Browse at the
>>> moment does not share files, it shares URLs, which I believe, is  
>>> fine,
>>> considering its usecase)
>>> Another option may be to have a gnubook activity, instead of a  
>>> bundle,
>>> instead of a library bundle. This would be something like the
>>> Wikipedia activity. This means that the exisitng "flipping"  
>>> interface
>>> is preserved, but at the same time, the activity can have an option
>>> "Keep book to Journal", which would keep the book being read to the
>>> Journal as a single object, in a format which can be opened by Read,
>>> and can be transferred to/shared with other kids as well. It  
>>> sounds a
>>> bit clumsy at first, but it would let us keep the best of both  
>>> worlds
>>> (the traditional book like interface, as well as support for  
>>> sharing).
>>> Does this make any sense ?
>>> Thanks,
>>> Sayamindu
>>> --
>>> Sayamindu Dasgupta
>>> [http://sayamindu.randomink.org/ramblings]
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Bookreader mailing list
>>> Bookreader at lists.laptop.org
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