Online Book Reader Wordpress plugin

4 years ago | Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

So here's a project that I saw the need for at least two years ago, but have finally hit point where I desperately want to get it done.

Basically what I want to do is to reimplement many of the basic features of the Kindle or Nook as a plugin for Wordpress. The major goal of the plugin would be to make it easier for the reader to catch up with a serial, or simply to read a book that's been broken up into posts on a Wordpress site.

The major features needed in my mind are:
--bookmarking
--a way to easily look through the table of contents
--an obvious way to go to the next/previous page

Nice features I hope to implement (but might be more trouble than they're worth):
--an easy way for someone to click on a section of text and suggest an edit
--a way to click on a character's name and get their history or even cast page
--a way to view chapter or book summaries

A feature I'd love to put in, but would almost certainly not be worth it (surely someone's done this already?):
--the ability to read epub and/or Kindle files, allowing people to share their formatted ebooks in whole or in part without making them available for download

I'm going to start work on this soon (this afternoon?), but I'd love to have suggestions from the group as to features that you'd be interested in seeing.

Eventually, I'd also love to have beta testers. The plan is to make this available as a Wordpress plugin for free.

Oh, and Chris, I might ask if you'd be willing to do a little code review.

Read responses...

Page: 12

Responses

  1. Chris Poirier (Moderator)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Sure thing, Jim. Also, it's a bit out of date now (WordPress no longer wants to be used the way I use it), but you might find some code of use in the theme I did for my stuff. https://github.com/cpoirier/sectionedprose

    Chris

  2. SgL (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Not sure how to articulate the dilemma but one of the main drivers for an "ebook" version is the fact that the reader can avoid the clunky experience of blog-navigation. (Right now I often use Safari Reader to give me black and white pages, but I still have to exit the reader, find the link to the next page, and then go that page and turn the reader back on.)

    It's why I end up wanting one file via epub, ereader or some format that I can continuously scroll through.

    So for the folks who are in the midst of serializing, this kind of plugin is a great feature to offer their readers. However when they're done, the author needs to be able to turn it off to motivate sales to the compiled version.

    So first feature -- easy on/off is good.

    Related to that -- perhaps selective on/off, meaning PAYWALL/SUBSCRIPTION/DONATION to turn on/off the tool access. (Kind of like "ad-free experience" it'll be the "blog-look free experience" with a donation.)

    Second feature I would like -- Being able to manually fix the TOC if something is wonky with the navigation.

    Comic-Rocket and I have had several back and forths because their scripts were picking up weird incentive pages and slipping them in before the actual next chapter. I gave up on some of this because more or less, the reader eventually got back on the right pathway. But I sure did wish I could fix this on my end to force the reader to navigate correctly - kind of like having a root level robots.txt file but instead having a toc.txt file for the program to read.)

  3. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Chris: Thanks. I can always use an extra pair of eyes to notice stupid mistakes I've made. And I will take a look at your code because I'm all for things that will save me time and aggravation (or give me ideas I wouldn't have had otherwise).

    Sgl: Turning off/on the plugin for a particular story shouldn't be too hard. Basically, I'm assuming that people put their stories into Wordpress categories or subcategories, and it will be as simple as having them appear in the order they were originally posted. If that's not true, I'm going to have to come up with something else.

    For example, on the off-chance that people might put posts about (or completely unrelated to) a story into the same category as the story, I'm thinking that I'll want to allow people to omit posts from a category. That makes a lot of sense.

    As for the paywall, that brings up bigger issues. Generally, I'd say that the owner of the site should handle putting something behind a paywall with their own system. Unfortunately Wordpress doesn't have much built in with that, and while there are plugins, I have no idea what any given person will use. So, that's a good point, and I'll have to give that some consideration.

    All that said, do you think that the crappy blog interface is the reason people buy the ebook? For me at least, the main motivator is similar to my motivator for buying a book that I know is available for free at the library. I'd like to reread it without having to go to the library and/or have it be casually available.

    Having it be available through a website doesn't scratch that itch for me.

    Not that I'm arguing with you there, but I think knowing the major factors in what causes people to buy an book when the story is available for free would be good to know. Baen books, for example, has been offering books for free online for years, and generally found that sales for those titles and series went up.

  4. Alexander.Hollins (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    you might want to take a gander at the reader over at bookcountry.com as well.

  5. SgL (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I'm one of those people who really doesn't like reading blogs for a long period of time because of the navigational issues. It's why I love the Wattpad app so much. You can have tons of weird installment lengths but once you go to the tablet or phone, it's a seamless experience. I just keep touching the tablet to advance pages .

    To some degree - having a plug in that's clever and helps me cut out clicking of links and easily going to the next page with content would help lazy people like me find reading a blog easier to deal with.

    As for categorizing posts - I haven't done that at all really .. it's complicated but at one point I was using categories to try to subnest menus. I stopped after a while...

    So none of my story things are actually tagged. I just have all my story pages as "pages" and announcemtns and superficial mumblings done as "posts."

  6. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Sgl: That's definitely worth knowing. Personally, I put each book into a post category, and each chapter into a subcategory. That allows me the option (should I choose to use it someday) of having a different template for each book. One look at my site will tell you I haven't bothered (yet), but I'm always into categorizing data so that if I need to do something with it later, I don't have a huge, tedious task in front of my before I can do the interesting part of the job.

    So clearly, I'm going to have to create an interface that allows people to choose which posts appear in each story, and it can't just be posts, I've got to allow for the possibility that people have used pages as well. The good news is that this is less trouble than it sounds.

    Related to this discussion, here's another thought:

    I can see two ways of doing it.

    Option 1: Just creating the best reader I can, one that totally ignores what the blog the story is in looks like. In the end, it would probably look a lot like a Kindle/Nook/Phone interface.

    Option 2: Embedding the reader into the blog. Authors might like this better because they can put in ads and stuff. I suspect, however that readers will ultimately use option 1.

    I'm suspecting right now that I'll probably do both, and figure out a way for the blog owner to customize option 1 a little.

  7. SgL (Member)

    Posted 4 years ago

    Jim - ran across this today: pressbooks.com. looks like it is some kind of WordPress platform that ports to books.

  8. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 4 years ago

    I've seen it. It seems like an obvious thing to do, and so I've been a little bit surprised that I hadn't seen an example of that until just recently.

    Maybe with any luck, someone else will do this entire project, eh? For me at least, it's stalled until I get book 2 of Legion of Nothing into ebook form.

  9. Scooter (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Jim,

    Have you done anything with this? This is exactly what I have been looking for!

    -Scott

  10. Jim Zoetewey (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Alas, no, but it's on my mind. I've got a series of plugins that I'd like to implement, but haven't had time.

  11. Scooter (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Thanks for the quick reply. I really think this could be a premium paid plugin.

    I stumbled across The Legion of Nothing which has greatly caught my interest!

  12. Stormy (Moderator)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I've managed most of this with a couple of simple plug-ins.

    For next/last: I have a plug-in, that goes by category (ie, keeps within the one book/issue, and by title. It can loop at the end of just stop). (As at the top and bottom of this chapter: http://requirecookie.com/series/mirrorfall/02-the-best-of-stories-the-worst-of-stories/) [Ambrosite Next/Previous Post Link Plus]

    For table of contents, I use the category system, then just add the blurb. (EG: http://requirecookie.com/mirrorfall/) [Rich Text Tags, Categories, and Taxonomies]

    For characters - I use the tag cloud, and edit the tags to include biographies (shh...I haven't actually done this yet, but I have the facility to, EG: http://requirecookie.com/tag/stef-mimosa/). [Again, Rich Text Tags, Categories, and Taxonomies]

  13. Scooter (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Nice Stormy. I am wondering what a good way for a bookmarking system would be. So a logged in user can bookmark ideally the exact spot they are on but will probably at least be the page. Ideas?

  14. Scooter (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I think I found something.

    http://codecanyon.net/item/user-bookmarks-for-wordpress/544129

    http://codecanyon.net/item/mark-as-read-for-wordpress/696983

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