Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ungluing eBooks Progress Report: We Have a Name!

Unglue.It will be the name of Gluejar's ungluing ebooks website. Based on feedback from blog readers and many others, we ditched the horrible-in-retrospect "BookPatrons.org", and focused on names that used the "ungluing ebooks" metaphor, which has no baggage and seems to work pretty well. We then polled subscribers to the gluejar mailing list, and twitter followers, who overwhelmingly preferred "unglue.it" over the two other finalists. Thanks to everyone who contributed!

For readers new to this blog, "ungluing ebooks" is what I'm calling the process of raising money to make creative-commons licensed ebook editions of the books that you love, so that everyone, everywhere can read them. You betcha.

The ".it" top level domain shows every indication of being the next ".ly". I recently attended a session of the New York Tech Meetup which featured presentations from startups "want.it" and "knowabout.it". ".it" is the domain for Italy. We'll want to include Italy in the service as soon as possible. I've never been to Italy. Now that I think of it, the president of any company that wants to use a country's top level domain should be required to show up there sometime. Libya and Tuvalu could use the tourism dollars! (Yes, we have unglueit.com, too.)

After Hurricane Irene.
We're developing the Unglue.it website on the Amazon cloud; in addition to the four full time Gluejar staff, we have three design and development contractors working on its construction. It's a great team, but we're still figuring out how to make our virtual office work. Even when Irene knocks out our power.

Our prototype is using the PayPal payment processing infrastructure, various bibliographic web services, and the Django web application framework. Right now, it looks like we'll hit alpha in October.

Many of the development tools we're using are new to me. I'm still trying to understand Github, and I'm enamored of Pivotal Tracker.

One of our big decisions has been to use an invitation-only rights holder strategy during the launch phase. Since dealing with rights holders (authors or publishers) is likely to be our most human-intensive task to begin with, we need to carefully manage the number of rights holders we deal with. We'll launch with a limited number of rights holders, and thus a limited number of works to unglue. If you're an author or publisher interested in ungluing a work that you have rights to, please fill out the form at the Gluejar rights holder contact page, and maybe we'll invite you. After launch, we'll add rights holders based on interest expressed by ungluers (anyone who registers with the site). Ungluers will be able to ask for any published book to be unglued.

It's an exciting and intense period for us, but rewarding in many (non-financial) ways. We hope you'll agree it'll be worth the wait.


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