Isn't it ironic? Or maybe that's not even the best term to use here.
Isn't it...weird? Wikipedia
has quickly become the go-to place for
knowledge on the Internet, and while it cannot always be trusted
completely, it's usually a great place to start searching for
information on pretty much any topic you can think of. It's certainly
better than the paper-based encyclopedias of old, which is what
makes this whole situation so strange. We've always heard that history
repeated itself, but it literally is
with this bit of news... Wikipedia is
now offering books, as in paper books.
There's no mistake or typographical error here. PediaPress is the
official print-on-demand partner of Wikipedia, which is now enabling
readers to create and buy "custom books based on
Wikipedia content." There's over 3 million English articles along to
choose from, and users can pick and choose as they see fit. What's
crazy is that there's a chance that a Wikipedia entry will change or be
updated between the time the book is printed and it arrives on
someone's doorstep, but we guess that's the point.
If you're looking to buy a time capsule or a relic of some sort,
there's really no better place to look than here. As of today, a
"Create A Book" button has been added to the Print/Export section of
Wikipedia's left-side navigation pane, and the pricing on these books
starts at just $8.90. Believe it or not, books can be turned around and
shipped within 2 days, but there's no apparent way to get an eBook
copy. Imagine that. The Internet knowledge database that killed the
paper Encyclopedia now sells paper books, but not digital eBooks.
As of now, only paperback books are being sold, but hard-copy books are
planned. There's your gift-getting service you've been dreaming of... maybe.
Wikipedia Starts Offering Books
The free encyclopedia’s newest feature lets users create
their custom printed books based on Wikipedia content
The world‘s most popular collection of knowledge has a groundbreaking new feature:
Wikipedia offers books. Users can now create their own customized
books from over 3 million articles in English alone – with exactly the knowledge
they choose and for the price of a paperback. The service provided by PediaPress,
a partner of Wikipedia, starts in the US on the 6th of May.
"The service provided by PediaPress is an extremely important way of making sure
that the free educational content of Wikipedia is available to all, everywhere, in areas
with connectivity and without. Books made with the PediaPress service are a great
asset to further the mission of Wikipedia: allow every single human being to share
in the sum of all human knowledge," says Jimmy Wales, Internet entrepreneur and
founder of Wikipedia.
Users can create the book without leaving Wikipedia. A "create a book" button was
added in the print/export section of Wikipedia‘s left navigation sidebar that brings
them to the book creator. They are browsing the site as usual – by clicking the "Add
this page" button and can ill the book as they go. In the end, they can arrange the
order of their articles. To add the final touch, the users can choose a cover photo and
give the book its title and an editor‘s name. The price of the unique books depends on
the number of pages – it starts at US $8.90. Payment is via credit card or PayPal. The
books are ready for shipment within two working days.
"When I came up with the idea, my colleagues told me my shower was probably too
hot. But I was tired of reading on the screen. I believe that in this hectic age people
cherish their offline moments more and more. You wish you could access the most
extensive and up-to-date knowledge in offline moments – on the train, at the seafront,
in your bed. That is now very simple," says Heiko Hees, managing director of Pedia-
Press, Wikipedia‘s service partner for printing.
A new kind of book for the 21st century? Hees is confident of its success: "Whether
you want to learn about climate change or you‘re seeking information about your
new travel destination – reading long texts on paper is not old fashioned, it is more
comfortable, plus it‘s plain smart: people read 10 to 30 percent faster on paper than
on screen. And you have no distractions: no chats, no emails. On the web, people
are skimming for information. But when reading on paper, they can take their time to
tackle a subject in depth."
It is easy to be optimistic, because it already works. The service has started up in
17 languages and books have been delivered to 33 countries. Experts think that
wikis in print will play an important new part in the book market of the future.
A big part of the business is books as gifts. If somebody shares with a friend the
love for the New York Yankees, Pearl Jam and Gibson Guitars, they now have the
opportunity to generate a book with the world‘s shared knowledge on these topics.
Add a picture of Eddie Vedder and the friend‘s name on the cover and you have a
unique present for a special person. The book creator gives the users a good look at
what they‘re about to order: they can preview the first 30 pages. If they like what they
see, they can order.
But is the knowledge collected in Wikipedia accurate enough to be put into print?
Critics might ask. Wikipedia‘s 15 million articles in more than 200 languages have
been written collaboratively by thousands of volunteers around the world and are
edited, used and trusted by academics, journalists and experts in almost any given
field. Studies have shown that the accuracy of Wikipedia articles comes close to the
level of traditional encyclopedias. The information is far more up-to-date, as users
revise articles within seconds of actual events. The wealth of details is unmatched: An
encyclopedia with the English Wikipedia articles would encompass more than 5,000
Currently, PediaPress offers paperbacks, but plans to add hardcovers with color
images soon. Furthermore, it will be possible for users to add own content like a
foreword. There seems to be no limit to the possibilities of creating personal books.
"One of our personal projects is to bring affordable quality textbooks to corners of
the world, where education is still a luxury for the few," says Heiko Hees. Maybe it
is a sign that, though the printing is done in the US, PediaPress is based in Mainz,
Germany. Mainz is the small city in which Johannes Gutenberg changed the world
forever by inventing modern printing with movable type. 500 years later, the mission
is still the same: making knowledge available for all.
PediaPress brings wikis to print. The web-to-print service enables users of Wikipedia to
create custom books based on their individual content selection from the free encyclopedia.
Books can be created on the Wikipedia website with articles in 272 languages and are
delivered to customers in more than 100 countries.
The PediaPress web-to-print service works with most of the more than 100.000 wikis
worldwide, which are frequently used to collaboratively create and share content on
the web and within organizations.
The company established a long term partnership with the Wikimedia Foundation
which operates several wiki-projects, including Wikipedia with its more than 350 million
unique users per month. PediaPress was founded in 2007 as a subsidiary of
brainbot technologies AG and is located in Mainz, Germany.