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Digital Publishing Revolution comes to Birmingham Libraries

Birmingham City Council has announced the pilot of a new digital publishing support service for local authors, an example of the kind of new service which will be on offer in the new Library of Birmingham when it opens in 2013. Birmingham Central Library has collaborated with The New Optimists on the e-book Challenging Cancer, published this week. The library will now pilot a range of epublishing projects meeting the needs of the 21st century, including a course entitled ‘ebook in a day: Kindle publishing for beginners’ to help other authors gain the skills they need to venture into epublishing.

The e-book, The New Optimists: Challenging Cancer, is published in Kindle format and is the first of a series of collections of mini-essays written by scientists based in the region, from organisations including the University of Birmingham and its health sector partners, Birmingham City University and the University of Warwick.

Kate Cooper of The New Optimists approached Digital Birmingham when she couldn't find a local service to create digital books. Together with Digital Birmingham and Birmingham City Council’s web team, The New Optimists hosted the ‘Kindle Camp’ course at Aston Business School, designed to introduce the skills needed to publish electronic books, particularly those required to produce e-books in the popular Kindle format.

Staff from Birmingham Libraries also attended the ‘Kindle Camp’ and decided to pilot an epublishing offer which, if successful, could form part of the creativity and innovation hub which is planned for the new Library of Birmingham when it opens in 2013. In this hub people will be able to develop vital skills to support innovation, including creative thinking, problem solving skills, idea generation.

This pilot will now offer support to authors who want to publish their books digitally, either by converting their books to ebooks for them, or by teaching them the skills to publish ebooks themselves. The first course in the pilot – ‘ebook in a day: Kindle publishing for beginners’ – will teach all the skills needed to convert a book into an e-book and publish it on Amazon. It will also introduce intellectual property law and give an overview of marketing through social media. If the pilot is successful, the new hub at Library of Birmingham might offer more courses to help budding authors.

Brain Gambles, Project Director for the Library of Birmingham, says: “The Library of Birmingham is rewriting the book on public libraries in the 21st century, spearheading what a library can and should be in the future. This workshop has provided new opportunities for publishers and writers to develop their creative content on an electronic platform, and we are really pleased that we were able to support local enterprises to develop new skills and opportunities.

“We are adapting our business services to meet the needs of local people and businesses: our economy and culture has become ever more interlinked with technology and the services and facilities at the new Library of Birmingham will reflect this. This is just one example of our innovative approach to learning.”

ebook in a day: Kindle publishing for beginners’, will be held at Birmingham Central Library from 9:30am to 4pm on Saturday 24 September and cost £55.

Contact business.library@birmingham.gov.uk to book a place.

Rewriting the Book - The Library of Birmingham