Each subgroup, consisting of a publisher, designer and developer has formulated their own research project within the bigger framework of the Digital Publishing Toolkit research program, and will be based on one or more publications of the publisher. The overall focus is on pragmatic solutions for digital publishers within the art and culture sector. The experiences of these hands-on projects will eventually be collected in a ‘Digital Publishing Toolkit’, giving insight into the preconditions of digital publishing, providing open-source tools where possible, and allowing publishers of the arts and culture sector to navigate this diverse and complex landscape of digital publishing in a more grounded way.
The subgroup Valiz is working on the publication Context Without Walls. This new series is a collaboration between Daphne Pappers and Valiz. Within this series intercontinental contemporary art will be discussed in relation to philosophical, anthropological, political and art historical notions. The series will exist of eight separate parts, and is created initially for printed publication. However, for this project Valiz, Puntpixel and Meeus Ontwerpt will digitize the series.
The goal of this project is to publish the first two parts of the series as an e-book, and to develop a digitization manual for the series overall. The digital publication must go beyond the PDF versions of the print documents. The publisher and designers want to add elements that complement the current content. For instance hyperlinks (between books of the series and within the books themselves), searchable corpora, complementary content through for example images, sound and/or video material. From a designer perspective it is important that the analog design, created by Meeus Ontwerpt, will get a digital equivalent. Central to this is translating the relation between the text and the image section of the analog publication to a digital version in such a way that the design is still recognizable, but also relates to the new medium.
The subgroup BIS publishers is working on two publications. Think like a Lawyer, Don’t Act Like One is a popular printed publication in America. The e-book version will focus on keeping absolute control over the design, with a fixed format, own font and the left and right pages relation fixed. Especially this last part is tricky in relation to the diversity of aspect ratios of the different devices you have to deal with in relation to digital publishing. Therefore the publication will be limited to an ePub/Kindle format. Research into the different formats and devices you have to take into account when designing and/or developing for digital publishing was part of this publication trajectory.
More complex publications to digitize are the two product design books, Sketching, andSketching The Basics, written by Koos Eissen and Roselien Steur, both connected to TU Delft Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering and the Hogeschool of Amsterdam, product design. The books have a large international reach and are used in design courses all over the world. The goal of this project is to translate the books into an interactive and media rich educational publication that is accessible on multiple devices. Moreover, the team wants to get insight into what interactive elements give added value to a digital educational book. For instance, an in-app sketchbook, social elements, video, layered images etc, and how this relates to the wishes and experiences of the user.
Through these two cases hands-on insight into the problematics of digital publishing will be given – this is not only complex because of the limited availability of technique (formats like ePub, Html 5, etc.), but also because of the different ecosystems that surround these publishing formats.
The subgroup of nai010 Publishers is also working on two publications. On the one hand a digital publication for the Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam that is based on the printed publication Highlights, a collection of high-end artworks, will be developed. The starting point for this digital publication is the idea that visits to the Stedelijk, through the use of a digital publication, can be prepared, deepened and afterwards ‘taken along’. The research will focus on the idea of ‘highlights’ as a collection of ‘high-end artworks with commentary’ – which can be deconstructed in an iTunes-like structure of mini-publications on one high-end artwork – which can be combined into sets of mini-publications: personal favorites, ‘curated’ collections etc. From a developers point of view, the user-scenarios are an important part of the research.
The other digital publication will be developed for the Glasmuseum in Leerdam – an exhibition about E.H. Haeckel. His work is based on systematically cataloging and classifying subterranean living species, in beautiful drawings or glass sculptures. Therefore this project allows to approach digital publishing from a database-like perspective: On the one hand it looks into the opportunities digital publishing can give for adding navigation layers and how this can correlate with different reader groups, also design wise. And on the other hand how, from a developer’s perspective, the digital material can be reused within the same publication, limiting file-size.
The INC subgroup will look into the concept of ‘The Book as Directory’. Here the book is no longer distributed in one format, but is presented in all its possible formats – from which the user can choose the format wanted and/or the format that is suitable for the device used. Central to this research is to get a better insight into the workflow of developing digital publications that move beyond putting the print PDF online, and how INC should change their print-oriented workflow to be able to create digital publications for themselves. It will examine digital publication formats and their implications in the workflow and production process, and the changing ways in which The Book as Directory will serve the interests of publisher, author, distributor and reader. The Unlike Us Reader will be used as a test-case. This research will be complemented with a research into the systematic use of metadata and document management, and the role it plays within digital publishing workflows.