Saturday, February 25, 2012

Keeping ePub simple for Mobi

From MobileRead:
The CSS from an epub file must be converted (by kindlegen) to HTML 3.2 attributes in the mobi file, so keeping the CSS extremely simple is always the best approach. Unfortunately, the only way to find out what works best (or at all) is through trial and error (and of course by looking through the threads here at MR to find what others may have stumbled upon).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Apple fixed-layout EPUB format

For coding ebooks according to the Apple fixed-layout EPUB format:

If there is an actual spec on Apple's site of "Apple's fixed-layout EPUB", I'm not aware of it. (Let me know if there is a URL that points to one.) For now it just looks like it's "spec by example".

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"open access publishing"

"open access publishing"? Or better:

"redistributable publishing"
"free-to-copy publishing"

See Budapest Open Access Initiative.

commentary by Richard Stallman <>:

Many scientists recognize the harm done by restrictive scientific publishers that control use of the scientific literature. In 2002, the Budapest Open Access Initiative called for applying two principles in scientific publishing: access for everyone at the main publication site, and freedom for everyone to redistribute exact copies (and do other things with them too).

The second principle is stronger. In practice, it implies the first: if everyone has the freedom to redistribute copies of articles, university libraries will mirror the articles, making them accessible to everyone. However, the term "open access" refers to the weaker first principle and not to the second. That makes it a weak term.

I signed the BOAI statement. I had misgivings about the name, after seeing how philosophical opponents of the Free Software Movement had used the term "open source" to downplay our concerns about freedom, but I put them aside because the substance was correct.

My misgivings later proved valid: some influential supporters subsequently dropped the second principle.  In effect, the weak name overcame the strong substance.

To return to the correct substance of the the BOAI, we should drop the term "open access publishing", and talk about "redistributable publishing" or "free-to-copy publishing".  These terms focus on the stronger second principle, so they will resist weakening.

"Open Publishing Association"

author = "Hildebrandt, Thomas T. and Mukkamala, Raghava Rao",
year = "2011",
title = "Declarative Event-Based Workflow as Distributed Dynamic Condition Response Graphs",
editor = "Honda, Kohei and Mycroft, Alan",
booktitle = "{\rm Proceedings Third Workshop on}
Programming Language Approaches to Concurrency and communication-cEntric Software,
{\rm Paphos, Cyprus, 21st March 2010}",
series = "Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science",
volume = "69",
publisher = "Open Publishing Association",
pages = "59-73",
doi = "10.4204/EPTCS.69.5",

(The bibtex of the paper e.g.

Open Publishing Association (
a publication model that links to articles of

This is the way it works.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Don't webby. Be appy.

There seems to be a proliferation of SasSy sites or tools that can turn your Web site or HTML5 content into an app (.ipa/iOS, .apk/Android):

This is very cool, and provides e-publishers another opportunity for publishing content.

On a philosophical note, this move away from eyes on Web sites to mobile apps is interesting. On the Web (either envisioned by the "regal" Tim Berners-Lee or the "rogue" Ted Nelson), the idea is that of going from site to site by hyperlinks. You are one site one minute and less than a minute later you are on some site that may have little relation to the first.

An app is not like that. An app is something of a closed world. Within an app, you don't "click" on something in the app and jump from that app to another app like you do from site to site. You basically stay within that app. An ebook (.epub) on a mobile device (read within yet another app, an e-reader app), is like a closed world too.

(Of course a "Web browser" on a mobile device is an app on its own, but the tools listed above create their own apps.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Guidelines for arXiv Review

arXiv Review:

1. Each submission to arXiv has a (potential) review page (thread or section of comments and reviews) in arXiv Review.

2. Each review page is identified following the article identification scheme in References to and in arXiv Documents.

For example, the article arXiv:math/9910001v1 — refers to — could* have a review page arXiv-Review:math/9910001v1 — (abs for "abstract" in arXiv, rev for "review" in arXiv Review).

3. When a submission to arXiv achieves a level of acceptance** from the reviewers on arXiv Review, it is promoted to published status.

This can be found in a separate section of arXiv Review:<indentifier> (pub for "published").

This makes the "pub" section of arXiv Review (and its various subsections) effectively an open access journal.

This is how it works:

1. A scientist submits an article to arXiv. If they want it to be reviewed for publication they would submit a link to the article on arXiv to arXiv Review. (The article itself stays on arXiv.)

2. Comments (reviews and ratings) are opened on arXiv Review for the article.

3. When the reviewers of arXiv Review "accept" the article for publication, it is promoted to the "published" section of arXiv Review.

For example, an article in > math > math.DG that is accepted for publication by the reviewers of arXiv Review would appear in the arXiv Review Journal of Differential Geometry section of

This is to say that under > math > math.DGthere is the arXiv Review Journal of Differential Geometry, a peer-created open access journal; under > quant-ph, arXiv Review Journal of Quantum Physics; ...

This post is a continuation of the discussion in scientific journals in the e-publishing age and the discussion on Google+. (And more comments here.)

There is also a Google+ page for arXiv Review.

2012/02/07 (via comment on Google+): The organization appears like it provides publications exactly along the lines of arXiv Review Journal of <whatever subject area>. (And apparently this organization has funding and people to maintain their site. That is critical.)

In each published paper there is a link to an article: e.g.

So if this organization (or parallel organizations) could take on all of subject areas, then the process seems pretty much along the way of being resolved. (And include Journals as well as Proceedings.)

(Note in the bibtex of the above example: publisher = "Open Publishing Association". There you go!)

And more at: Community Peer Review

* could, since not every submission to arXiv may have a review page in arXiv Review
** the article rating and acceptance process is TBD

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

scientific journals in the e-publishing age

There's been a bit of discussion on Google+ (John Baez - Jan 30, 2012) on the future of costly scientific journals. As print fades into history, there is no reason why scientists cannot have a system where their so-called pre-publications (e.g. on, a current source for many of these) can be reviewed, and with revisions acceptable to a peer community be qualified as being designated as published.

Proposal: continues as it is and some group creates (completely independent of that accomplishes the intended goal of reviewing the articles of When an article on gets a pass from the scientific peer community, it's designated as published.

(The problem, as has been pointed out, is for some group to actually go and create

What would be the result? A free and open article submission and access system as it exists now ( and a independent review system (

Update (2012-02-02): Looks like the site has been created.
Created On: 02-Feb-2012 03:35:26 UTC

(There's also a Google+ Page: +ArXiv Review)

The first step is to provide a Primer and Goals and Mission Statement for the site (along the lines of

Here is a start:

arXiv-Review is an openly accessible, moderated forum for commenting on and reviewing articles. (For information about arXiv, see To provide for this, each article submitted to arXiv can potentially have a review thread in arXiv-Review for comments and reviews.

Each review thread in arXiv-Review is identified by following the same reference scheme described in For example, corresponding to arXiv:math/9910001v1 <> is a potential review thread arXiv-Review:math/9910001v1 <>.

Browsing arXiv-Review is open to everyone (the "readers"). Those who comment on and review articles (the "reviewers") must register on arXiv-Review. In addition, a reviewer may be a member of a select "board" (TBD) on arXiv-Review (and this identification will indicated).

arXiv-Review system for evaluating arXiv articles: TBD.

arXiv-Review sponsors and operators: TBD!

1. See also: Proposal for A New Publishing Model in Computer Science, Yann LeCun.
2. Elsevier's Publishing Model Might be About to Go Up in Smoke - Forbes. Remarks on Google+: John Baez - Feb 1, 2012