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Heather Johnson Guest-Blogging About Baseball Books

"The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia"??

Wikipedia2_2I don't think I've ever come up empty after a Wikipedia search.  That's one of the most attractive features of the Wikipedia, right?  You rarely leave without finding something of value.  The search options seem endless and it's got way more content than you could possibly squeeze into one volume or even a shelf full of volumes.

So what's up with this announcement that Bertelsmann is going to "publish what could be the first in a series of annual yearbooks whose content is derived from the many hundreds of thousands of user-created entries on Wikipedia."?  The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia is going to feature the content covering 50,000 of the most-searched terms (from the German language edition).

OK, the One-Volume product will feature information on some pretty popular topics, but am I the only one who feels this whole idea turns the core strengths of the Wikipedia into a weak print product?  Again, I love the sheer breadth of the Wikipedia; every time I visit the site I'm confident I'll learn something.  The One-Volume product will be hit and miss, even though it will cover the most frequently searched topics.  Then there's the living, breathing nature of the Wikipedia.  Whatever I'm reading right now is more up-to-date than the print version.  That might not matter for subjects like World War II but it could mean a significant difference for major political elections or candidates, for example.

Don't get me wrong.  I think there's a great opportunity for Wikipedia content in print.  Flexibility is the key though.  Let customers print the pieces they want, not simply a collection of the most frequently searched topics.  That means print-on-demand is the only viable manufacturing option.

Have you heard of PediaPress yet?  It's still a work in progress but it sure sounds like they're building the model described above.

I'm also still intrigued by the DailyLit model and how it could be leveraged for the Wikipedia (see this earlier post).  There seem to be a number of new, viable Wikipedia content delivery models to experiment with; I'm just not convinced the One-Volume project is one of the best.

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