Project Plan: Benefits and context

User Problem

Readership of web content is moving to other devices beyond the typical “at desk” or “on laptop” screen. Mobiles (Android, iPhone, etc.), Tablets (iPad, iTab, etc), eReaders (eInk, Pearl, etc.) and other “eBook” style devices are increasingly becoming a welcome alternatives for reading. Accordingly, books produced by Academic authors need to be enabled in terms of formatting, process, aggregation and delivery of monographs to these new devices. Perhaps most significantly, the technical barriers of publishing to this multitude of devices needs to be lowered, if not removed all together so as to assure that any individual author can “technically” publish their content with the single click of a button[1].

Accordingly the problem that needs to be “solved” is two fold: a.) Academic authors must be able to author in their native wordprocessing environments with support within those environments for how the content can best be visualised and delivered to multiple devices, and b.) readership of monographs should be able to consume content via the device of their choosing and with features to their liking. This project will primarily focus on the former with an eye to the latter, but with a clear remit to the individual author working within an Academic setting producing scholarly monographs for this new breed of device.

Context

JISC has actively recognised that one of the key value propositions of the Web is its “openness”. It has supported several open movement such as open access, open education resources, open scholarship and so forth and so on. It is currently in the process of formulating an ‘Open Agenda’ which will align the various open movements and their value for UK Higher and Further Education. This technical work should begin to establish how open access monographs can fit within the overall ecosystem of scholarly communication.

JISC has also also previously invested in the business and usability considerations of eBooks (via the National JISC eBooks Project), and so any technical work going forward will need to liaise with this overall national usability study. In addition, further work has been funded via the OAOPEN effort at JISC collections, whereby the business models for publishing will be investigated. Again the technical considerations will need to be compared and contrasted with how they affect the business models. Further touch-points between these efforts are built into the below workpackages.


[1]This technical work is intended to be a simplification of the publishing process. We fully recognise that the processes required to publish a widely read book are much more complex than a “single click”. None the less, leveraging the Web Architecture means that the technical process of authoring, formatting and publishing a monograph on the Web should be no more difficult than a single click, ipso facto this is a technical pilot to demonstrate that the web is still a *simple* tool that any individual can utilise to publish to any number of web enabled devices. It is also important to note that this work in not attempting to compete with publishers as we feel this activity will in fact help support publishers in having the most open and interoperable format by which to edit, format and deliver content themselves to a wider audience. We also fully recognise that publishers provide a value-added service that enhances content; where we are only suggesting that the technical aspects of one-click publishing is for the value in technically demonstrating that anyone can format and make their content deliverable to a multitude of eBook devices (reader/tablet/mobile/etc).

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