More than 152,000 books now mapped on the global book map

While I have neglected this blog, I have not neglected the maintenance and improvement of the map :).

I created the book map app at the end of 2014. 6 years later it now has 152,195 books mapped to 18,945 discrete places. When it comes it enabling hyper-local reading recommendations, the database is still only scratching the surface.

This progress is possible because of users who have suggested books so I want to say a sincere thank you to these people. Suggestions are as welcome now as ever.

Kind regards, Alex

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Book map refresh

mappit_polygons.pngThe book map interface has been refreshed with ‘proper’ country and region outlines that can be selected to find books set in them. If you zoom right in you will be shown the individual locations.

There are now more than 90,000 books on the map, a large part of those books have been added directly by users, so thank you to those of you who have been adding your favourite place-specific books to the map!

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Bookmap App tutorial

Techiepolitan

I recently came across the Mappit API online. I love reading books and an opportunity to make an app related to books will not be missed.  The API helps you to search for books related to a location – feed it  latitude/longitude coordinates and you can find all the books that are linked to that place.

In this post I’ll show how I made it into a Windows Phone 8.1 RT app.

  • I get the user’s current location
  • I also ask the user to type in any location they want.
  • Then I convert them into lat and long co-ordinates that I send over to the web service to retrieve book results.

screen

How to get the user’s current location

How I take the user’s typed in location(text) and convert it to lat/long co-ordinates

How I took the co-ordinates and fed it to the API

I used the MVVM (Model- View- Viewmodel)…

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Edinburgh MSc Project featured in GIS Professional magazine

Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis

The February 2015 issue of GIS Professional features a three-page article on mapart1ping books. Entitled Once upon a somewhere: The challenges of putting books on the map and written by Alex Mackie and Bruce Gittings, the article is based on Alex’s GIS Masters dissertation.  It explains that books are spatial objects – written, published, printed and consumed at particular geographical locations. Importantly books also feature places as their subjects or within their storyline. Thus, it is perhaps surprising that there have been relatively few attempts to exploit their spatial location, whether as a means of promotion or a way of connecting people to place. The article goes on the explain how Alex implemented a global book map, which constantly grows by automatically harvesting publication data from the internet. The system proving popular on social media and has been picked up by the literary press.  Alex’s book map…

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Prototype community mapping application released.

Mappit now includes a framework for creating and hosting participatory maps for consultation projects and community mapping. It allows users to quickly and easily create their own custom map layer, to which others can subsequently contribute.

The intended application is for one-off consultation projects and niche interests with a spatial element such as local community and local advocacy groups. Participatory maps can benefit these groups and their stakeholders by helping to inform people about what exactly is being proposed and gives people a chance to contribute and unambiguously communicate their own views and concerns via the map. The goal is to provide only those core features that users need to facilitate discussion and the dissemination of information using maps.

This map allows stakeholders to comment and vote on pre-highlighted features and issues and also allows them to draw their own features to describe issues they regard as important to the discussion.

This map allows stakeholders to comment and vote on pre-highlighted features and issues and also allows them to draw their own features to describe issues they regard as important to the discussion.

Clicking on this feature that has been drawn to highlight a footpath brings up more details and comments about the feature.

Clicking on this feature that has been drawn to highlight a footpath brings up more details and comments about the feature.

In this example of a niche interest with a spatial component users can submit the location of mountain bothies in Scotland

In this example of a niche interest with a spatial component users can submit the location of mountain bothies in Scotland

Clicking on a feature brings up details, images and comments that have been submitted by users. This feature-level interaction with the map is missing from other similar collaborative mapping apps.

Clicking on a feature brings up details, images and comments that have been submitted by users. This feature-level interaction with the map is missing from other similar collaborative mapping apps.

Mappit is currently looking for beta testers and potential case studies with interests in community mapping so if you have a project that could benefit from map-based public discussion please create a layer on the site or get in touch.

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Edinburgh Student puts 50,000 Books on the Map for Scottish Book Week

Earth Observation and Spatial Analysis

Alex Mackie, a recently-completed GIS student from the University of Edinburgh has commercialised his dissertation project which gives books locations, and founded his own company mappit.net.

For his MSc dissertation, he chose to mix two subjects close to his heart; books and maps. As well as a research exercise, Alex realised there was commercial value to mapping books, which has been largely ignored by the industry.  If books are properly georeferenced then location-aware e-readers and tablets can use their user’s location to recommend locally relevant books or provide the option to search for books, relating to intended holiday destinations, favourite mountain or place-based Christmas present. This extends the principle that physical bookstores already recognize a demand for locally relevant books, with Waterstones and other retailers stocking shelves with books linked to the shop’s location.

Rather than having to have the text of thousands of books, the method involves extracting…

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What to do with fantastical places?

Some fantastical books

A commonly asked question about the book map is ‘What about book X, How can that be mapped?’ Where X is fiction, fantasy or sci-fi book or series.

This answer is often: ‘It can’t’.

Some settings are a poor fit because they are extraterrestrial. Some are left out because they are fantastical and can’t be meaningfully placed on the map. Some great books (and some personal sci-fi favorites) will never appear.

However there are some edge cases which can be mapped. Some fictional places can nevertheless be located to a specific area: e.g Longbourne in Pride and Prejudice (Herefordshire) or fantastic versions of a real-world place can be matched to their real-world inspiration e.g Fourecks in The Last Continent (Australia). There are also cases of deliberate obfuscation of a real place like Laurie Lee with Almuñécar in his Spanish Civil War writing that we now understand better and can locate in the real-world.

The global book map will never be complete, a large majority of books have no loca-specificity to start with (e.g text and reference works). The huge scale of the task further means that some books will always be missing. This leaves two questions…

  • How much does incompleteness detract from the map?
  • Is there a way of mapping fantastical book settings and is mapping these books meaningful, interesting or useful?
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New locations added

Seascape

View towards Iona from Isle of Mull, Scotland

This morning was spent visiting exotic places and adding the smaller seas of the world to the bookmap. For those with nautical inclinations, the map now includes the following watery new locations:

Eastern Sea, Sea of Okhotsk,  East China Sea, Bismark Sea, Irish Sea, South Sea, Tasman Sea, Adriatic Sea, Coral Sea, Bering Sea, Caspian Sea, Aegean Sea, Black Sea, South China Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Barents Sea, Caribbean Sea, North Sea.

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From Bothies to Book Maps

P1060338  Between finishing my undergrad and starting an MSc In GIS at Edinburgh I avoided real work by cycling around Scotland, visiting the 78 mountain bothies maintained by the MBA in the Highlands and Islands.

Bothies are buildings in remote locations that provide basic shelter to any who need it. In each bothy there is a visitor book of comments which range from humdrum remarks on the weather to scribbled pages of incomprehensible lunacy. I diligently read through these books and copied the best entries: poems, witticisms, songs, short stories and nuggets of wisdom that captured the unique sense of place of each bothy. When I returned home I considered how to share these stories that are intractably linked to places, perhaps some form of wilderness writing map would be the best way? Lacking any knowledge about how to do this, I instead wrapped the notes in an elastic band, left…

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How are books distributed on the map?

Heat Map of book distribution. Data from mappit book map and LibraryThing.

Heat Map of book distribution. Data from mappit book map and LibraryThing.

How are the settings of books on the book map distributed worldwide? This heat map shows the relative distribution of books globally. The map was made using kernel density estimation in ArcGIS using a dataset of 30,000 books set in 6,000 places from the book map at mappit.net

Central Europe and the United States dominate, if we delve deeper into the data we see that it is a fairly small handful of cities that dominate the map.

Table of books by city

Obviously population has a big effect but where are the megacities of the world? Jakarta, Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai? Is this down to bias in the underlying data or are there simply very few books set in these cities?

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