The shift to digital forced book production departments to re-examine what they thought they knew about workflows. Suddenly, production managers found themselves tasked with producing a digital output alongside their core print product. At publishing conferences and industry events, publishers were sharing stories about massive conversion projects and digital workflow integration to try and figure out the best way to tackle the massive digital project in front of them.
One of the ways publishers responded to the challenge of digital was by outsourcing much of their ebook conversion work. But over time, publishers desired greater control over ebook quality, and the demand for production departments to create ebooks in-house increased. To do this, however, they needed to learn new skills—HTML, CSS, EPUB, RegEx, etc. When eBOUND Canada formed in 2011, part of its mandate was to bridge this perceived digital skills gap by delivering practical and instructional how-to resources such as webinars, tutorials, and workshops to book production departments across Canada.
eBOUND still delivers this kind of hands-on ebook education to Canadian publishers—in fact, we have workshops in Toronto and Vancouver scheduled for this month—but in 2014, another type of education is also needed: conversation. Specifically, a conversation between ebook practitioners that not only celebrates the medium’s successes, but also confronts the issues in ebook development. That conversation is already happening online through #eprdctn, and we’re looking forward to bringing it off-line at ebookcraft.
The programming for ebookcraft covers topics as wide-ranging as ebook standards, user experience, typography, accessibility, and the digital future of narrative through augmented reality. These topics take a close look at the present state of the ebook as a format, while also imagining what the ebook could become.
For ebook developers and production managers, staying on top of the latest digital trends and skillsets is essential, but we also shouldn’t lose sight of the long-term future of digital books. To do that, we need to set aside time to engage with new ideas, test our assumptions, and examine what’s worked and what hasn’t. In short, we need to have a conversation.
Jordan Knoll is the Marketing & Program Developer at eBOUND Canada, a not-for-profit ebook services firm. eBOUND Canada is co-presenting ebookcraft with BookNet Canada. For more information on ebookcraft and how to register, please visit ebookcraft.booknetcanada.ca.