The Magic Book is a simple prop book that uses Second Life shared media to display different covers. You can change the cover to most books for which you can find an identifier, including:
- Title (but see below!)
- ISBN numbers (10 digit or 13-digit)
- OCLC identifiers from the non-profit OCLC Online Computer Library Center
- LCCN identifiers (Library of Congress Control Number)
- OLID identifiers (Open Library)
If you don't see the covers changing, go into your viewer preferences and set media to auto-play. (The location of this setting varies by viewer: in the default Linden Lab Viewer it's in Preferences > Sounds & Media > Allow Media to auto-play. In Firestorm it's in Preferences > Sounds & Media > Media > Allow Media to auto-play).
Don't let the price scare you! There'a no-copy version for just L$19, a three-pack of those for L$49. And a free demo you can try!
To change the cover, click the book (or right-click and choose "touch") and enter the identifier of your choice. That's it! Watch as the book changes to Fight Club by title, Watchmen by ISBN, and The Essential Calvin and Hobbies by title!
If the book can find a cover, it will set the book cover to an image of the book and dynamically resize the book to match the proportional width and height of the cover, plus the approximate thickness of the book. The cover of the spine and back cover will also change to something that (hopefully) matches or complements the cover image. When possible the book also changes its name to include title and author information; if other people click the book, it'll give that information in chat.
Want a different book? Click again (or right-click and choose "touch from the pop-up menu). You can change it anytime you like.
About Title Searches
Many books have been published in different editions, and some books even share the same title. When you search by title, the Magic Book essentially takes its best *guess* at what you might mean, and sees if a cover image is available for that particular book. It might not find one, or it might find a book you didn't expect!
Results can be unpredictable, particularly for older "classic" books (many of which predate ISBNs and similar identifiers) and books that have many derivative or related titles, or are part of a franchise.
If the results aren't what you want, use something like Amazon or Open Library to search for an ISBN number for a specific book or edition.
- Can I wear the book?
- Sure—that can be super handy if you want to take screenshots of yourself holding the book! However, you can't change the cover while being worn, and other people very likely will not be able to see the cover, even if they have Shared Media enabled. (Setting Shared Media to auto-play does NOT let Shared Media play if it is attached to avatars, and I really cannot recommend enabling that—it's a potential privacy nightmare.)
- Can I resize the book?
- Sure, just resize it like any other object. However, when you next change the cover it'll return to its standard sizing, in proportion to the selected cover dimensions.
- Can I read the book in-world?
- Nope! The Magic Book is just a cool prop for your coffee tables, desks, nightstands, book clubs, and the like. Even if the text of a particular book is in the public domain, creating a decent reading expreience in Second Life is pretty difficult.
- Where do you get cover images?
- The book prefers to get cover images from Open Library. If no cover image is available there, the book checks a couple other non-public sources.
- Why isn't a cover image available?
- Even if a book has an ISBN or other common identifier, it doesn't mean a cover image is available from the book's sources—or that an available cover image is good or even accurate. Many cover images from Open Library are pictures of specific physical books, so you may see price tags, stains, or even damage on the covers. (Think of it as character!) Some cover images (particularly for recently-published books) may be placeholders provided by publishers. If you don't like the image that comes up, try searching for the same title under a different identifier.
- Can I get higher-resolution cover images?
- The resolution of cover images from The Magic Book's sources can vary quite a lot. Some of them aren't great. The book tries to pick the best available image.
- Wow, the title search sucks!
- We prefer the term "amusing!" :) Try using Amazon or Open Library or similar to find an ISBN or another identifier for the specific book you want. The title search *does* work great sometimes—honest!
- Where can I find ISBNs and other identifiers?
- Open Library displays OLIDs and usually ISBNs for most books it has available. You can also browse sources like Amazon and Google Books: they'll often list ISBNs for titles. Remember the Magic Book can handle both 10- and 13-digit ISBNs.
- Will you support ASINs (Amazon Standard Identification Numbers) or Google Books IDs?
- Probably not. Amazon and Google make that unpleasant. (Sorry.) If you're looking at a book on Amazon and it only shows an ASIN, it might be a Kindle edition: if you look for a hardcover, it should have an ISBN.
- Isn't shared media a privacy concern?
- Potentially. If a cover is available from Open Library, the book loads it directly, which means Open Library will have a record of the IP address of anyone viewing the cover and that it was accessed using a Second Life viewer. If the book gets the cover from another source, the connection is proxied so no record the your access goes to the source. I do not record any information (including IP addresses) about cover queries or cover images, but I can't exactly prove that: you'll just have to take my word for it.
- Why isn't the book mesh?
- The Magic Book's dynamic resizing happens to be one of the things Second Life prims do better than mesh, thanks in part to the complicated resizing, but also trying to get the shared media images to align properly on the cover. Doing the books in mesh wouldn't save any land impact: a mesh book that can kinda do the job is 2LI bare, 3LI with scripts. The prim version is also 2LI bare, 3LI with scripts. I didn't plan it that way, honest.
The Magic Book exists because Cygnoir Blanc asked if such a thing was possible. I said "Well, no, not really." She persisted.