|About the NAP Mission and Open Book Interface|
Making the reports and publications of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council truly public.
The National Academies Press is neither a government publication center
nor a federal office of any kind. Rather, we are the publication arm
of the National Academies, and our mission is to make public the
fruits of research performed by the National Academy of Sciences, the
National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the
National Research Council. That mission is tempered by the
institutional requirement of being self-supporting--we must sell books
to be able to continue to publish them.|
|The page image|
In 1992, the National Academies Press initiated use of
the Xerox Docutech's short-run printing capabilities, and began
harvesting the TIFF images generated by that machine.|
These TIFF pages began to be made public initially in 1994. First, the Xerox Corporation's "DocuWeb" system was used, followed by the NAP-developed "Book Object" system. The limitations of both of those presentation mechanisms, and changes in toolsets and technologies, led us to develop the "Open Book" page presentation system.
|Useful, Cheap, Coded--Choose Two|
Many of the NAP's publications are made available online in HTML, PDF, and
XML-like presentations. But HTML and PDF (not to mention XML)
can be surprisingly expensive in personnel and time if anything but a
collection of "save-as-html" files is desired.
Further, an astonishing degree of diversity in our content stream is a
given: print runs may be anywhere from 200 to 20,000; material may
come to us camera-ready from a committee, or as manuscript, or as Word
files. The print results desired may be strip-bound digital photocopies, or
may be rich four-color work. Multiple data types like this make almost
any coherent content strategy difficult and expensive to implement.|
What we have been striving toward over the last years has been the development of an integrated presentational system, combining an up-to-date database, the best of HTML, full-text searching, and robust production scripts to meet an array of goals.
The goals we set out for ourselves included ensuring:|
We have consequently created a database-generated Web catalog, which
includes links to the free versions of our publications, which may be
HTML summary and/or full HTML and/or PDF and/or OpenBook. The "common
denominator" of the NAP publications is
the OpenBook, a navigational/search envelope surrounding a page from a book
(whether in HTML or via a picture of the page).
Since early 2001, we have been underwriting the digitization of the text of our books,
and have replaced most page images with HTML text. We currently use page
images only for very new (prepublication or not yet coded) books, or very old
The OpenBook navigational envelope enables page-by-page browsing or reading, and integrates exploration mechanisms which can search the entire full-text corpus, or an entire book, or just one chapter. Discovery tools like "find more like this book" and the "skim" function can help researchers. Navigational elements and other ease-making mechanisms are sprinkled throughout (such as consistently available Tables of Contents, a "jump to page" system, etc.).
|Real URLs, Printable Documents, Buyable books|
The OpenBook's HTML presentation framework means you can send a
"real URL" composed of the book's ISBN and page numbers to someone by email
("Fred, check out this recommendation on water quality:
Any single page can even be printed out (though at low-resolution
quality of 150x300 dpi) for
To achieve self-sustainability, we have a consistent "buy it" button that enables secure commerce mechanisms for buying our books. We give away these online versions freely for the public good, and in the belief--proven generally true so far--that it will mean that customers who otherwise wouldn't have found the publications will do so--and will order books they find, thereby enlarging our customer base sufficiently to pay for the added (and significant) expense of doing what we're doing.
The mission of the National Academies Press is fundamentally about disseminating the fruits of the scientific research. We hope that our Open Book system helps that process.
|The Nitty Gritty|
The NAP's Open Book is built using a collection of tools, of course,
predominant among them:
last updated 6/29/05