Quick Read ebooks to commemorate Hillary’s ascent

The cover of the Quick Read biography of Edmund Hillary

The cover of the Quick Read biography of Edmund Hillary

This week Manatū Taonga – Ministry for Culture and Heritage is taking its first small steps into the world of ebooks by releasing seven biographies from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, part of Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. They are available from today from our website in epub and mobi (Kindle) formats for free: http://www.mch.govt.nz/ebooks/. This means they can be read on a variety of devices, including ereaders such as Kobos and Kindles, but also on your smartphone.

Their release coincides with the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt Everest on 29 May 1953. His biography is one of this first set of ebooks. The others are biographies of prime ministers Robert Muldoon and David Lange, labour activist Sonja Davies, writers Hone Tuwhare and Janet Frame, and New Zealand’s greatest running coach, Arthur Lydiard, whose ebook includes extra material from NZHistory.

A view of the Quick Read on Edmund Hillary on an iPad

A view of the Quick Read on Edmund Hillary on an iPad

So why are we doing this, and more importantly, why are we making ebooks out of material that you can already access for free on the web? Our strategy is to make our content as available as possible in as many places as we think are useful for our readers. Ebooks let you, the reader, take our content away, offline, and read it when it suits you. It also gives you more control over the look and feel through your ereading device. It’s about letting you make the decisions as to when and where you read.

For us it will also be about finding connections across our websites and creating ebooks out of material that currently sits in different websites. By bringing it together we can make new things out of our collection of content. That, in turn, will inform how we can make our websites work together better.

We have a huge collection of written material about New Zealand; it’s an asset that belongs to New Zealanders and we want to encourage people and organisations to start using it. It’s a long-term plan but we hope to release an application programming interface (API) that makes our content and data available for re-use. With that in mind, ebooks are examples of ways that other groups might be able to start using our content.

Our quick reads are available in epub and mobi (Kindle) formats, and can be read on a variety of devices

Our quick reads are available in epub and mobi (Kindle) formats, and can be read on a variety of devices

The ebooks we’ve done so far are very simple. We’ve called them Quick Reads as they’re short and easy to read. We’re excited to be part of a small group of New Zealand publishers experimenting with ebooks, and have taken some inspiration from Bridget Williams Books and their BWB Texts series of short ebooks.

As I said, we’re taking our first small steps, but as we learn we’ll start developing longer and more interactive ebooks. We hope you’ll like our first ebooks and stay with us on the journey as we release more of them.

Download the first seven Quick Reads from mch.govt.nz/ebooks.

One comment added so far

  1. Comment made by Email digest: Wed 29 May 2013 | || January 31st, 2017

    [...] Taken some small steps into producing ebooks at work. Here’s my write-up about it  [...]

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