A free, beautifully-simple tool to make e-books better.
UPDATE: The People’s E-Book will be built! Now, help us build it even better. The more we raise now, the more features we can offer our users in the future. Details coming soon. In the meantime, please keep pledging and keep passing it on to help us build the best free tool for e-books on the planet.
The People’s E-Book seeks to be a lab, an incubator, an e-book creation platform for artists, authors, and alternative presses who want to try new things, publish new books, and push into new territories. The People’s E-Book will handle e-books of all sizes and scope, but it will excel in areas that no one else has cared to consider—the very small, the quick and dirty, the simple and the experimental.
The People’s E-Book is a tool that doesn’t account for what e-books are, but rather lets its users imagine what they can be: A short story or an epic poem, a blog post, a manifesto, a photobook, a book of moving photos, a book with a single word, a book with every word, sixteen-million colors, nine swimming pools, a video diary, an idea …
Make alternative e-books possible. Join us in building The People’s E-Book, a remarkable DIY tool anyone can use for free.
100 Years of Alternative Publishing
The People’s E-book brings e-books into the rich tradition of creative publishing in which artists, authors and independent presses continue to co-opt and re-imagine what books can be.
Italian Futurists, Dadaists and Surrealists pushed the limits of letterpress printing at the turn of the century. In the 1930s, artists and political activists alike made use of the new mimeograph for quick, cheap, portable printing of reasonable quality. By the 1960s color offset printing was coming into range of affordability and underground newspapers and magazines flourished. And while Fluxus and mail artists continued in the Dada tradition, creating and distributing unusual publications around the globe, the late 60s and 70s also saw the rise of the photocopier, that most humble of machines. The photocopier made possible a massive movement of punk and art zines, and a DIY publishing tradition that continues to this day. Thousands of people, making thousands of books.
How We E-Book
The People’s E-book is a super-simple online tool with an intuitive visual interface to allow anyone to make e-books quickly and for free. This is barebones e-book publishing. What the photocopier was to zines, we hope The People’s E-book will be to digital books.
Create an e-book in minutes, not hours — The People’s E-Book requires only a bare minimum of content to output an e-book, while still encouraging advanced programming and creative hacking.
We’re confident that The People’s E-Book is a great idea, but to make it into a great tool, we’re asking for your help to build it.
Who We Are
My name is Greg Albers, and I’m the founder and publisher of Hol Art Books (Tucson, AZ). I started Hol to publish and promote exceptional writing on visual art because I believe narrative is a powerful tool in connecting people to art. As a reader and as a publisher, I love books that deepen my experience with art out in the world, not just in reproductions. This is why I love artists books too; because with artists books the book is the art. I think e-books can be the art too. I’ve spent much of the past two years speaking and writing about digital publishing. I’m thrilled to now be leading this exciting new project to push the boundaries of e-books in the arts, and every field, ever further.
To make The People’s E-Book happen though, I need to hire a team with the background and skills to build it right. I’m lucky enough to have found a great team, Eleanor Hanson and Oliver Wise of The Present Group. The Present Group (Oakland, CA) is an arts-based think tank and creative studio whose projects focus on leveraging new technologies in support of the arts and finding new ways to fund and distribute artists projects. Founded in 2006, major works have included a limited edition based art subscription service, a web hosting service that funds an annual arts prize, and Art Micro Patronage, an online exhibition space showcasing and funding work ideally viewed online.
Rather than simply outsourcing development of The People’s E-Book to a faceless technology company, bringing The Present Group in as collaborators gives The People’s E-Book both a rock-solid technological foundation and a meaningful partnership in guiding and promoting the site to best serve artists and authors. Eleanor and Oliver are a small independent arts group who have continually done right in the projects they’ve undertaken, not only in doing exceedingly interesting work, but also in their unwavering commitment to finding ways to support the work of others.
The money we raise here will go to paying Eleanor and Oliver, and to covering hosting and development costs. It is a small amount for what we will ultimately accomplish together, but it’s more than I can fund on my own.
A Rewarding Conclusion
It is a publisher’s job to “make public” the work of talented authors and artists. It’s rewarding work. In joining this project with your pledge, you become a publisher too. You are making public a free tool that we believe will be the genesis for a tremendous flowering of creativity in digital book publishing. You’re not making just one book possible, but thousands.
We welcome you to book publishing, and we thank you for being here. For your pledge, we have a number of fantastic rewards to offer. From stickers and bookmarks, to e-books, video seminars, workshops and more. We hope you’ll find the amount and reward that fits for you. And for every pledge, we’ll be proud to list your name on a part of site we’ll certainly be most proud of, the “People’s E-Book Is People Funded” page. Thank you.
And don’t miss the rare opportunity to join a small group of us in an online workshop on making e-books at the MAKER level. Even better, be one of the first ones in the door and get individual feedback and help with your own publishing projects as you help us build ours at the COLLABORATOR level. A great investment for individual artists and small presses alike. See you there!
Follow us on Twitter at @peoples_e or online at thepeoplesebook.net for the latest updates
RISKS AND CHALLENGESLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
The People’s E-Book is designed to be simple for artists and authors to use and we believe in building that simplicity into the very core of the app. From coding to design, we’re starting with the most basic pieces of e-book publishing and are focused on building a tool that does the right thing, not one that does everything. Start simple, stay simple.
Though the basic technology we’re working with is straightforward and widely adopted, there will undoubtedly be challenges in making various parts of the system work. The .epub format itself, while based on simple .html, can also be particular in what it allows and doesn’t allow and it will surely be a challenge to translate some of those rules into simple tools for our users. Also, a new version of .epub has been released and although it has yet to be widely adopted, it will pose both new opportunities and new difficulties in constructing our app.
There are always challenges in developing any new application, but our commitment to the need for this tool, paired with a background of solving thousands of web development problems on both the server and client side, gives us solid ground to stand on in facing those challenges.