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A Tour of the Site:
Custom Approaches to Kinetic Publishing

With every title we post at OBS, we work with publishers and authors to customize our online publishing strategies to fit each book's needs, and to make static publications into dynamic experiences. Our production people note that "we never do the same thing twice;" this means that while they may stay up late, they never get bored. Their jobs are as custom as the "distributive" books they work on. In creating online complements to the printed books, we continually explore our new medium and discover new ways to offer new breath and life -- the capability to change -- to the ideas and information contained in each book. Success comes when we collaborate and create something that can only happen on the Internet.

This became most evident at the beginning of 1996, when OBS succeeded to move online publications beyond marketing and into an era of applied online publishing. Immediate application is what differentiates online publications most evidently from printed books and journals which, in the case of online publishing, needs to be understood in it's broadest sense. It can refer to the user's ability to customize and apply presented information according to her needs as well as the publisher's ability to utilize the Internet's unique characteristics for internal publication operations. This shift in paradigm becomes impressively evident in our recent titles.

At Gordon and Breach Virtual Headquarters OBS implemented the new paradigm of applied information by developing an online manuscript submission system. "New Communications" allows authors to directly submit their papers online, for evaluation by editors, review by peers, and finally, if the paper got accepted, for posting on the site.

The value of information acquired and directly applied online becomes even more evident at the sites of Springhouse Publishers and a new virtual edition of Bernice Chesler's Bed and Breakfast in New England. At Springnet.com, nurses can take self-scoring tests in continuing education online and our new travel guide offers users the ability to truly customize their search online. In all cases, the key to applied online publishing lies with searchable databases built by OBS which support the online publication and enable publishers to track the course of manuscripts the same way as allowing customers to gain tailored access to online information.

Database-supported, applied online publishing effectively complements the OBS effort to implement the idea of distributed publishing, and each online book we published thus far provides evidence of our philosphy.

Nicholas Negroponte's bestselling Being Digital for example, has been evolving digitally in cyberspace with OBS since early June 1995. The external links to actual examples of Negroponte's observations illuminate his work in a way that can not be matched on paper. The set of changing links grouped together also illustrates the potential of "Cyberdock," a creative and commercial new offering by OBS to produce cyberspace extension disks for books, and successfully marry paper and online publishing. The release of Being Digital also introduces a new sponsorship model for publishing, OBS's "Gumball Machine" billing model, opening up a new income stream for publishers and authors.

In late May 1995 OBS launched Time Warner's Quick Read program for sale on the Internet with fourteen downloadable hypertext titles, interlinked into Internet resources. The free sampler for Windows allows readers to browse selections offline, and the external link sets allow readers to add context to the selections online. The link sets for each Time Warner Quick Read Library also lay the groundwork for adding Cyberdock dimensions to any publication.

Penguin USA and Plume Books attended the American Booksellers Association Convention virtually this year, with an effective online presence only through OBS. Their upcoming fall title from Plume, Marcia Yudkin's Marketing Online, melts the boundaries between itself and its competition -- other online marketing books, such as McGraw-Hill's Electronic Marketing Manual by Cecil C. Hoge, Sr. -- through bold, interlinking and "schmoozing" online.

Thunderbolt Thinking (Bernard-Davis) underscores what is the essence of Internet publishing -- interactive and kinetic thought -- as author Grace McGartland releases some of her dynamic ideas online and challenges readers to use and respond to them with both words and pictures.

In the political arena, Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom contextualizes the autobiography by offering links found by the collaborative work of our staff to maps, news, commercial prospects, online literary and political resources for this title, as well as an invitation for readers to participate and offer their own new and relevant links. Samples of this title are also available in German in addition to English.

Colin Haynes's Paperless Publishing (McGraw-Hill) is available for free in its entirety in hypertext form, and also sorted by "niche markets" or interest groups. Readers can choose an interest group, such as "fiction writers," and go directly to a pertinent excerpt of the book that also contains links to other Net resources related to this subject area.

There is no cookie-cutter approach at the OBS; we identify what works and then do it. In the case of Rich Wiggins' Internet for Everyone (McGraw-Hill), the author controls the coding and hyperlinking of his own files. We posted his files well in advance of publication of the paper book, which created advance interest, and Rich is free to update his online files whenever he chooses, not only when the paper book needs updates.

Sometimes, the publisher creates the HTML files, such as John Wiley & Sons' Webmaster did with Joyce Lain Kennedy's Electronic Job Search Revolution and Electronic Resume Revolution.

The distributive edition of our own bestselling The Internet Companion: A Beginner's Guide to Global Networking by Tracy LaQuey has been produced cooperatively, with FreeRange Media initially, and now with the University of North Carolina using our HTML files as a project in their Cybercasting Course, which work will be featured at SUNsite and at OBS.

The first HTML-coded fiction in the commercial publishing arena appeared at the OBS: Stephen King's "Umney's Last Case" in 1993. The sole link in those files (in German and in English) is a lone dog barking on a server in North Carolina! The publisher, Viking/Penguin, perceived early on the power of the reader in this new hyperlinked environment and forbade us to "change the content of King's story" by adding more links. Since then, we have further explored this power of the reader to define the literary art, with an Ongoing Fiction Editing Project, an online version of Floyd Kemske's novel (to be published by Catbird Press in the Fall of 1995). This novel is about corporate takeovers, and the role vampires play in them; thanks to our own Transylvanian Link Editor, Lidia, her creation of "The Lidsky Files" demonstrate how the reader herself may assume some aspects of a vampire when "taking over" or "determining the meaning" of the work of art she reads.

Participatory fiction appeals to children of all ages, and Henry Holt & Co.'s book Maze has created a steady stream of traffic -- people interested in clicking through the elegantly mapped images, done by one of the developers of "HotWired" magazine. Excerpts from Holt's poetry book, Aloud! also offer a lively counterpart to the printed page.

OBS published the first really distributive books on the Internet, starting with Adrian Butash's Bless This Food in March of 1994, the first HTML files available for sale as download (certificate of authenticity available with purchase ;-) ). The free demo for this title includes many of the basic features of kinetic, multimedia publishing: links to other texts, pictures, videos, online libraries, and even people on the Internet. Bernice Chesler's Bed & Breakfast in New England was the first B&B book available on the Internet in HTML (see the sample state of Massachusetts), and points the way to successful travel book publishing on the Net.

So, pick an area you are interested in, and enjoy your time at OBS! While you're here, don't forget Information That Wants To Be Free with its concentration of ideas and links by leaders in electronic and Internet publishing, and our customized BookFinder service, offering in-print books anywhere in the world in any of 269 languages. As ever, we welcome your ideas and critiques. Write to our President, and let us know what we can do to better serve your online reading needs. Thanks for stopping by.


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