Archive for the ‘Books / eBooks / Digitisation’ Category

A book about Prezi

10 Aug


the cover of the book

Mastering Prezi for Business Presentations, by Russell Anderson-Williams, has just been released by Packt Publishing.

I have an interest in this, because I served as one of the two Technical Reviewers for the book. Check it out, I even get a little bio in there!

A bio, of me


About the book

As the name suggests the book is aimed at people giving business presentations – but basically all of it is applicable to anyone wishing to progress their Prezi skills to the next level. What I really like about it is it’s written by someone from a proper design background, so there’s a lot of technical stuff which is really handy if, like me, you quite like designing multimedia things but have no real idea what you’re doing. The sections on using audio and video are really good, and Russell certainly knows a lot of tips and tricks which were new to me. He really gets to grips with the potential of the software, and it’s very engagingly written.

About being a technical reviewer

The way the process works with this particular publisher, is that they send you each chapter basically as soon as it has been written. You’re encouraged to use the comments facility of Word to go into as much detail as you can, suggesting changes and improvements or highlighting the bits you think work really well. There’s also a questionnaire for each chapter, which includes questions like ‘what do you think the next chapter should be’ and so on. You send back the chapter and the questionnaire, they pass it on to the author along with the other reviewer’s comments, and then you get sent the next one or two chapters once they’re done.

It’s an odd process because you want to be doing a good job as a reviewer and actually making constructive suggestions, so you want to add as many comments as possible – but at the same time you don’t want to be finding fault where there is none, and the fewer comments you make the more complete the chapter is already, which is a good thing. So the balance is a hard one to find.

I was doing this around the same time I was finishing off my own book, and I have to say I would have found it very difficult to work like this – showing people what I’d done as I went along. I’m the kind of person who likes to have anything creative more or less complete before showing anyone – and that includes having all the chapters drafted, for context! Facet asked for one chapter early on in the writing process (to check I could actually write) but then let me get on with it thereafter till it was a completed draft. At this point they said they could send it off for proofing, indexing etc – or they could get it reviewed. I asked for it to be reviewed, and specifically asked if Antony Brewerton could review it; I’m really glad I did as the extremely helpful comments he came back with led me to actually restructure the book quite significantly, moving content around and adding some stuff in.

All in all reviewing this Prezi book was enjoyable. Sometimes I found it hard to turn around the work in the time the publisher wanted, and I never really had a sense if what I was doing was actually useful – I asked for feedback but I was told they’d be in touch if there were any problems, so hopefully that means there weren’t any. The best part of it was definitely getting to read a great book! There are loads of really useful tips I’ve adopted, and my recent Prezis are much better than my earlier ones because of it.

One thing is certain – I much prefer this kind of reviewing than critical reviewing for publication, and when I get asked to do that I always suggest someone else to take it on. Knowing what goes into writing a book means I could never really criticise anyone else’s knowing they might read that criticism, so a review from me is of no use to anyone…


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This is the most beautiful, extraordinary use of books I’ve ever seen…

07 Mar

Just a really quick post to say, you have to check out the extraordinary things Brian Dettmer has been doing with old books. He doesn’t add or relocate anything, just takes pieces of pages away to create absolutely sensational artworks.

Here is one picture (I can’t resist) but you can see loads more in this article on My Modern Met – seriously, click it NOW! Dettmer’s website is here:


Carved book FOR THE WIN

From - click to go there and view the rest too, DO IT!

Cheers to @ciderlass for linking to the article on Twitter!

- thewikiman

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If you’re going to use a stick, you’d better have a big enough stick

02 Mar

I'm wasted on librarianship, no?

Twitter has been alive with the sound of mutiny for the last few days, in response to Harper Collins announcing a 26-time lending limit on their eBooks. In case you’ve not seen this news, the short version is that the (huge) publisher has somewhat shafted libraries by imposing a pretty small limit on the number of times their e-books can be borrowed, before they need to be re-purchased. (A fuller explanation can be read here on LibrarybyDay, including links to a whole bunch of articles on the subject.)

One of the responses to this has been a call to boycott Harper Collins. There is a special website for it and everything. I can see why people are in favour of this, and it’s nice to see some aggression from the library community in the face of a threat. However, this boycott fails on two fundamental levels, in my opinion:

ONE: the stick you are trying to beat the publisher with is not big enough. They can get by despite a library boycott.

TWO: there is no point in protesting about / boycotting ANYTHING unless you are presenting a viable alternative. (Student fee protesters take note.)

This excellent post by Sarah Glassmeyer does the maths and concludes that libraries simply don’t make up enough of publisher’s revenues for a boycott (which would only ever be partial if it happened in earnest at all) to be a game changer. There is no point in starting a fight if you don’t have a chance of winning the fight – you’ll end up bloodied, or having to back down.

And as for point two, there is no way Harper Collins would do this without giving it some serious, long, hard, thought. They would also have anticipated an angry reaction from the library industry – and they have gone ahead anyway. Therefore, what are the chances of them caving in because of librarians protesting now? I think you have to put a viable compromise on the table to be taken seriously, not just lash out because it’s unfair. The library industry is acting like a wounded animal, when cooler heads are called for. Where is the alternative model for Harper Collins to consider?

Other things that spring to mind about the boycott idea:

  • It doesn’t make the library industry look too good
  • As many others have said, you’ve got more chance of making change happen from the inside than from the outside
  • We’ve been screwed by publishers for years (I used to work in e-Resources, trust me) so why particularly call for collective action now? What do we do if the other publishers fall into line – boycott all of them? We have a duty to our own customers to actually provide them with stuff
  • Yet again, we are an industry divided. We need to be on the same page to move forward! But I realise that is very hard to achieve.


Just my opinion.

- thewikiman

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