Katy can code! How ebookcraft's 2018 design competition went down

For the third year in a row, our ebookcraft conference for digital publishing professionals ended with the presentation of a giant cheque and a round of applause for yet another stellar ebook developer. And this year that ebook developer was... Katy Mastrocola, a Production Associate from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt! Congratulations, Katy, on winning So You Think You Can Code 2018!

 Katy Mastrocola

Katy Mastrocola

It should also be noted that Katy is the third developer from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to take home the grand prize: $2,500 from Rakuten Kobo and subscriptions from Adobe Creative Cloud and Firebrand Technologies (along with eternal nerd glory, of course). There must be some amazing ebook-designing mojo being cultivated in that team. Since Katy was unable to attend ebookcraft in person, her colleagues Melissa DeJesus and Teresa Elsey took to the stage to accept on her behalf.

 (L-R) Naomi Kennedy (judge), Joshua Tallent (judge), Melissa DeJesus (colleague from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Monique Mongeon (judge), and Teresa Elsey (colleague from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) accepting Katy's cheque on her behalf. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick.

(L-R) Naomi Kennedy (judge), Joshua Tallent (judge), Melissa DeJesus (colleague from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), Monique Mongeon (judge), and Teresa Elsey (colleague from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) accepting Katy's cheque on her behalf. Photo by Yvonne Bambrick.

Competitors from Canada and abroad were invited to put their ebook design skills to the test by applying best practices and standards to a rough-around-the-edges EPUB file in the days leading up to the conference, demonstrating how a user-friendly, accessible, and beautiful ebook can look and function. For 2018's competition, a record number of files were judged by a panel of industry experts from Canada and the US — namely Joshua Tallent (Firebrand Technologies), Monique Mongeon (BookNet Canada), and Naomi Kennedy (Penguin Random House) — for criteria ranging from typography to semantic inflection.

The judges' aim with the contest was to reward the best and the brightest submissions from the industry: ebooks that strike a balance between adhering to standards, pushing the boundaries of design, the realities of the market, and the need for device-agnostic functionality. The judges considered the files independently and then convened to determine the winner, with each judge assigning scores in nine weighted categories, from fine typography to rich navigation.

According to the judges' statement, "Katy's submission was notable for her near-perfect application of semantic markup and semantic inflection, and her fine typography work. She made use of the ACE by DAISY accessibility checker for EPUB files and achieved a perfect score across the board. Katy's file also passed EpubCheck and nearly scored perfect on her use of standards; she even took the time to update the file's metadata elements."

"Of particular note was Katy's inclusion of MathML to address the fun equations we added to the appendix. It was encouraging to see a submission that attempted to handle the equations in a way that was both readable and accessible. Katy also caught most of the little issues we inserted into the file, showing her commitment to the quality of her craft."

We're already looking forward to seeing the next batch of submissions for 2019's competition. To make sure you're notified when registration opens, sign up for the Tech Forum & ebookcraft mailing list or follow @ebookcraft on Twitter.