More an more people are buying smartphones, and Facebook is the number one app. In Cambodia, the biggest mobile phone company gives “unlimited Facebook” for US$0.50/month. Anything hosted by Facebook is “unlimited”, but people will have to pay for data to follow links to external sites. We produce a radio broadcast in local languages and I host the recordings on a website but nobody was following links from Facebook because they’d have to pay extra (and my host’s content distribution network isn’t as fast as Facebook’s). I started converting the audio files to videos so that they could be hosted directly on Facebook, and our Facebook page went viral.
So, It’s pretty important that all of the content be hosted on Facebook servers. I think that means that we’re limited to either plain text, photos, or videos. For a book with audio, a video would be ideal. For a book without audio, a photo slideshow or a “Canvas” in Facebook terms could work.
Here’s the steps to publish:
- Sally finishes creating a book in Bloom. and clicks the “Publish to Facebook” button.
- Select between options such as “Publish as Video”, “Publish as Canvas”, or “Publish as Photo Album”
- Bloom does some conversions in the background
- Meanwhile, the user logs in to Facebook, types in metadata, etc.
- When the conversion is complete, the user clicks publish, and the “book” is published to either their personal newsfeed, or (better) to a “Books in Our Language” page on Facebook, with a link to their personal newsfeed.
Joel sees that Sally published a new book, or, because he’s following the “Books in Our Language” page, he sees an alert there. If it’s a video, then it will begin autoplaying as soon as he scrolls to it. If it’s a slideshow/album/canvas, I’m not sure exactly how it will work.
I see that it is possible to upload PDF files to a “Group” in Facebook, and doing so would create a post in the Group’s timeline, where a potential reader can either “Download” or “Preview” the PDF. If this post contained a picture of the book’s cover, it might attract a few clicks, though it doesn’t seem to be the most attractive option.
I just want to say, we love this idea. But we don’t know anything about Facebook other than it’s a nice place to see kid pictures and a terrible place to form political opinions
What would really help is if someone could figure out which of Facebook’s features could be used to publish Bloom books. If you can cobble together a proof of concept, that would help all the more.
For uploading videos to Facebook, MP4 or MOV are recommended, but there’s a list of video formats here
If it’s an EPUB, that would need to be converted to one of those video formats. I tried the tool at https://video.online-convert.com/convert-to-mp4, but the audio didn’t transfer with the conversion.
But having a “Publish to Facebook” option, similar to “Share to Facebook” used for many websites/apps could be useful if the audio from the EPUB could be included.
Maybe adding a Share to Facebook option within the Bloom Reader would be an option??
This page may be helpful https://developers.facebook.com/docs/pages/publishing/
Within many countries in Asia, Facebook is offered free with mobile carriers or an “unlimited FB” option is available.
One of my contacts in Indonesia just wrote “It’s super popular in Indonesia! I think this idea has massive potential”.
I can confirm that this is true in Thailand. Unlimited Facebook, LINE and YouTube are common promos when you buy a prepaid data package.
The idea of turning it into a video that could be automatically/easily posted to an account would be GOLD. In my sphere of contacts, people who use Bloom or would use Bloom (especially if it did this) are already FB users due to the above-mentioned promo type things. Lit & Culture Committees have their own fb pages long before they have their own website, and even if they do get their own website, they are unlikely to update it very frequently like they do to their fb page. Even if Bloom could only turn it into an mp4 file (or whatever video file format you can manage) and the user would upload it him/herself, that would be a great first step.
Response from someone in the Pacific:
Facebook is popular, and reasonably cheap to access in the city, but not in rural areas (80% of population). So maybe having that ‘publish to FB’ button currently not that helpful. But we do expect increasing coverage, so I’d say it sounds like a great idea.
Even without the button, anyone could post pdfs to BLOOM for downloading. And one could make a FB page for vernacular publications.
@EricP I heard this morning that you’ve had success making Facebook Canvases by hand. Facebook does apparently have a Canvas API. Is that what you suggest we do for this feature?
Yes. Facebook’s Canvas is the best way I’ve found for posting books on Facebook. A canvas consists of multiple pages. Each page can be an image, text, video, or a few other choices. I normally prefer posting text as text, but there is some advantage to posting text as an image, since then you can control the font and rendering. The biggest negative to Facebook’s Canvas is that it’s viewable only in Facebook’s apps. It’s not viewable from the website. See our page “An Jarai” for some example books.
Thanks for that pointer, @EricP .
It appears, looking through some of them, that a “canvas” can be thought of as a vertical strip of image/text blocks, arranged on top of each other, with no notion of pages or fixed heights, so that you just keep scrolling down to read the book. That presents some mismatch with Bloom’s page-oriented design, but I’m not sure how much yet. Perhaps if we provide and in-Bloom preview of how the final result will look, users will be able to live with the lack of WYSIWYG?
What new formatting features would be needed in order to reproduce the the books you’ve been doing? Background color for images? Background color for text blocks?
I don’t think there’s a background color for images but text blocks have several formatting options – a selection of 8 fonts, size in points, left/right/center justification, text/background color, and line spacing. All of these are applied to all text in the block, and then there is also bold/italic/underline which can be applied to individual words.
For images, you choose between
- Fit to width (tap to expand)
- Fit to height (tilt to pan)
We always choose the first, but the second could work nicely with wide images.
If bloom exported each page as a JPG and then uploaded those to Facebook, then it would continue to be WYSIWYG. But text blocks render much more quickly than pictures so this isn’t necessarily my first choice.
An MP4 output for upload for talking books would be a great feature.
I was not familiar with Facebook Canvas til you mentioned it; I was surprised to see that it’s an ad. How much does it cost you to using Facebook Canvas to post a book? Do you know if it is possible to make a Canvas interactive?
Facebook does refer to as an advertisement, but you don’t need to pay unless you wan it “promoted”. I’ve never paid anything. You can interact with a Canvas by scrolling through pages, by flipping through a carousel which was embedded in a canvas, or by pan/zooming an image.
I’ve not tried it, but I think you could also make a read-along book by transforming each page into a video.
It’s been a while since this has been discussed, but I think it is still very relevant, if not more so. Has there been any progress in this area?
Bloom 5.3, which will be Beta soon, includes the ability to create a video designed to be posted on Facebook. @EricP if you’re still interested, we’d love to have you try it and give feedback.
Thanks for working on this. We downloaded the Alpha 3 days ago to try it out. Here are our observations:
- Creating a video is nice, and would be appreciated, but isn’t what we had in mind. We were thinking about an e-book experience, with turning pages and opportunities to actually read the letters. We’re afraid the video would outpace less skilled readers, and give them no incentive to work on the letters.
- A Facebook “Canvas” would allow this interactivity. A Facebook “Carousel” might also be an option. We created some of these manually a few years ago, but it was laborious and frustrating since the Facebook website would often crash while we were creating it.
- It seemed that microphone was not detected by Bloom, so it didn’t record our audio and advanced automatically according to the time set by the slider.
- We could work around the noted problem with hi-dpi screens, but it was annoying.
- We could, I believe, accomplish what we want by exporting the book to PDF, converting the PDF to images, and then uploading the image files as a Facebook Canvas, though our experience with Facebook’s Canvas creation interface a few years ago discourages us from pursuing that again.
- It still might be nice to have audio with the e-book that I’m envisaging. In order to maintain the readers’ ability to turn the pages themselves, I’d implement it as a separate video for each page, sequenced within a Facebook Canvas.