New sessions and speakers for Tech Forum & ebookcraft 2019

Hello, you fine people looking for more information about Tech Forum and ebookcraft. We're here to give you what you seek. Another round of speaker and session information has just been released, and we'll tell you all about it below, but first, we've got some party details and accessibility information to share.

Did you know that Tech Forum and ebookcraft each have an after-party? 'Tis true. Our ebookcraft after-party, presented by Scenarex and hosted by Evan Munday, is, in fact, also a pub quiz. After you fill your brains at ebookcraft (both at the main day on March 19 and at the workshops on March 18), come and put your knowledge to the test in a fun, friendly environment with food and drinks. And, after the final session at Tech Forum, we have a reception in the concourse with drinks and light refreshments. 

We're always thinking about the accessibility of our conferences and we're constantly trying to improve. If you're coming, or considering coming, to our conference(s), please note that you can tell us about your accessibility needs during registration and we will do our best to accommodate them. You can read more about our Accessibility Policy and the conference venue's Accessibility Package on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

And now, here's the biggest crop of speaker announcements yet for 2019!

ebookcraft 2019 sessions and speakers

Photos of the ebookcraft speakers.

Faking a Grid

Betsy Granger, Executive Strategist - Content Standards, Macmillan Learning, and Franco Alvarado, Senior Content Standards Project Manager, Macmillan Learning

We wanted to utilize the responsive nature of the grid layout in our EPUBs to mimic the complex layout of higher education print textbooks. When we looked at applying the grid to our EPUBs, we saw that this would require additional coding not related to semantics, and the addition of s surrounding our headers would interrupt our CFI generation (which are essential to our course creation). To mimic the look of a grid layout, we leveraged the consistent framework of our Macmillan Schema and relied on media queries to mirror the look of a responsive grid. This solution worked with our CFI generation and saved us from having to add additional coding to fit the grid model. In this workshop, we will present the CSS we authored at Macmillan as a case study and explore alternative ways to code and style complex content with CSS, with a focus on grid and media queries in EPUBs.

Who Does What to Make Great EPUB? How to Build an Airplane in Mid-Air

Shannon Culver, Manager of Technology, eBOUND Canada, and Sabina Iseli-Otto, Public Services Librarian, National Network for Equitable Library Service

Many of us have been working with the EPUB standard for several years, but one long-standing challenge for Canadian publishers, particularly small ones, is that the requirements for accessible EPUB 3 can seem very daunting. Recent work by Laura Brady shows that many Canadian publishers are still producing EPUB 2, and those who are producing EPUB 3 are not making great use of accessibility features. To try to address some of the problems, we're working on an accessible publishing summit. The purpose of this summit is to better understand who can do what to create accessible EPUB files, and then explain this work to stakeholders along the EPUB publishing chain. Our overall goal is to support publishers in making their books accessible from the start — this approach both maximizes the market for reading, and saves taxpayer funds on alternate-format production for students and other readers who have print disabilities. If a book is produced correctly, it will work with a variety of assistive technology tools without requiring further intervention. To get to that point, we need to agree about what our standards are, and then build an understanding of the workflows that are most likely to result in meeting those standards. This is what we hope to do at our summit, and then present at ebookcraft 2019. In our ebookcraft presentation, we will spend a small amount of time demonstrating alternate format production: what a typical process looks like for the academic sector, and what it looks like from the public library perspective. From there, we’ll dive into the summit’s recommendations and then present our suggestions for next steps. We’d like for this workshop to be a provocative one that helps us gather information as well as disseminate it. What does the ebookcraft audience think about our approach? What are we missing? Who are other stakeholders or players who might make a positive difference for accessible publishing? For readers and alternate format producers, accessible publishing is known as the tide that lifts all boats. For publishers, accessible publishing can feel like trying to build a new airplane while flying in another. Let’s see what we can do to make accessible publishing easier for everyone.

Cybernetic Ebooks: A Panel on Machine Learning and AI in Book Production

Monica Landers, CEO, StoryFit; Jens Tröger, CEO, Bookalope; Wendy Reid, Senior QA Analyst, Rakuten Kobo Inc.; and Joshua Tallent, Director of Outreach and Education, Firebrand Technologies

Tools are at the core of the daily work of book production, whether print or digital, because they directly impact our efficiency and the quality of the final product. Thanks to growing amounts of available data and the increased processing power of modern computers, Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have become popular tools to solve certain classes of problems. However, alongside the growing opportunities and potential advantages of applying these technologies to book production, there is also a perceived “dark side” to ML/AI that has many in the book industry worried that it will automate and replace their jobs. The panelists will share their different approaches to applying ML/AI at their companies and their outcomes, highlighting both strengths and limitations, as they consider a vision of a more automated publishing workflow.

Metadata Beyond ONIX: How Publishers Can Use Different Metadata Formats Throughout Their Press

John Rodzvilla, Graduate Program Director, Emerson College

This workshop looks at the main formats for metadata — Dublin Core, ONIX, EAD,, open graph, Twitter card — and talks about how they can be used by publishers to create rich content and how to think about crosswalks between the formats to make publishing more efficient.

Make Your Life Easier With Scripting

Nick Ruffilo, Commerce Technology Manager,

We waste weeks of our lives every year doing repetitive tasks over and over again. What if you could save yourself all that time by automating things with a few scripts? Easily translate data, execute multiple commands at once, get your time back to do what really makes you valuable. During this hands-on workshop, Nick Ruffilo will come prepared with a few template scripts for handling tons of different common problems and will take live audience feedback and walk participants through the thought and coding process to automate whatever it is that has been asked for. The templates and code created during the session will be provided back to the participants.

Tech Forum 2019 sessions and speakers

Photos of Tech Forum speakers.

How Publishing is Attacking the Diversity Problem: A Data-Driven Approach

Ashleigh Gardner, Deputy General Manager, Wattpad Studios, Publishing

In this session, Ashleigh Gardner, Deputy General Manager, Wattpad Studios, Publishing, will explore how new technologies — such as machine learning — are creating new opportunities to discover and publish marginalized voices. Looking at Wattpad’s own Story DNA machine-learning technology, this session will highlight the opportunities for publishers to diversify their slates while uncovering exciting new writers. The session will examine real-life case studies from Wattpad, showcasing recently-discovered voices that the company has identified among the millions on the platform.

A Crisis Management Lens for #MeToo and the Media Industry

Melissa Mack, Director, Witt O'Brien's

When most people think of Crisis Management, they think of Olivia Pope. However, Crisis Management is more than just squashing scandals and managing (bad) reputations. Using case studies of recent crises related to the #MeToo movement and the publishing industry, this session will demonstrate how the principles of Crisis Management can be used to successfully mitigate consequences of all types of crises.

Case Study: Metadata & the Web at House of Anansi Press

Carolyn McNeillie, Web Developer, TWG; Andrea Lacson, Data Administrator, House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books; and Tim Middleton, Project Manager & Retail Liaison, BookNet Canada

Moving an online bookstore from one website to another is no small feat. Obstacles abound in this odyssey of data transferral, from hosting ebook files to displaying metadata and images, all while ensuring that design and e-commerce tools are doing their jobs both separately and when melded together. In this case study, the team at House of Anansi will share their epic tale, including the unexpected problems they encountered along the way and how they were solved or are being solved. BookNet’s Tim Middleton will speak to the role BiblioShare’s data aggregation service and its plugins have played thus far in guiding their ship to a new shore.

How Can AI Champion Great Storytelling?

Mary Brendza, VP, Strategy, StoryFit, and Monica Landers, CEO, StoryFit

Can machines work alongside humans to improve the storytelling process? We’ll share how an AI-powered analysis can help storytellers visualize and understand their stories — including character network, personality traits, emotional valence, and whether or not you’ve got a dynamic protagonist leaping from the pages. StoryFit identifies features applicable to all stages of book development, from acquisitions to marketing, and we’ll provide real-life examples to support your publishing decisions.

Data-Driven Collections & Patron Management: The New Library Science

Janet Horne, Manager Library Systems, Vancouver Public Library; Maria Cipriano, Collections Librarian – Electronic Resource, Toronto Public Library; Jessie Bach, Bibliographic Services Manager, Marigold Library System; and Monique Mongeon, Project Manager, BookNet Canada

It's 2019. Do you know what your local library is doing with data? Panelists from major Canadian library systems will share their latest data-driven initiatives that are revolutionizing collections and patron management to increase efficiencies, insights, and opportunities. BookNet's Monique Mongeon will speak to the role BNC LibraryData will play in the aggregation and analysis of nation-wide library collections data.

Metadata, Agility, and Consensus: How to Build Excitement, Make Agile Changes, and Consolidate

Keely Kundell, Editorial Assistant, Harlequin, and Brendan Flattery, Assistant Manager, Digital Commerce, Harlequin Enterprises

Metadata is an increasingly important tool for book marketing and discoverability, but sometimes systems and workflows can get in the way of optimizing data. It can be easy to fall back on old patterns, formulae, etc., and get lost in day-to-day minutiae rather than making sure your expansive catalogue has a minimum number of BISACs and keywords — let alone ones that are well-researched based on customer behaviour. But making systemic changes at a large publisher takes a great deal of time and consensus-building, and time is often in short supply. So how does the individual book marketer or editorial assistant fight the Goliaths of inertia, scale, and the way things have always been done? At Harlequin, we believe the answer is not doing it alone, but rather working to find ambassadors: like-minded people in various roles. Consensus, ambassadors, and eventually lots of excitement were the keys to our project. This led to the development of a new module for metadata that will revolutionize the way we can reach consumers, market our books, maximize data integrity, and optimize data at scale. This talk will focus on the strategies we used to grow consensus, identify key opportunities for development, and eventually overhaul large systems and workflows to focus them around metadata best practices.

New from BookNet Canada: BNC LibraryData & SalesData

Monique Mongeon, Project Manager, BookNet Canada

The BookNet team has been hard at work the last year recruiting Canadian library systems and aggregating their circulation data to debut our new tool, BNC LibraryData. Get a first glimpse of the circulation data aggregation tool, see its reports in action, and find out how it will be integrated into BNC SalesData for a comprehensive overview of Canadian readership.

New from BookNet Canada: BNC BiblioShare

Tim Middleton, Project Manager & Retail Liaison, BookNet Canada

With 3 million records (and counting), BNC BiblioShare has grown into the go-to source for quality-assured book data in Canada. Find out what tools we’ve been working on recently to ensure all that data is easily accessible to retailers, the media, and other end users, and what plans we have in the works for building a faster and more powerful BiblioShare 2.0 in the coming year.

State of the Bookselling & Publishing Nation 2019

Noah Genner, CEO & President, BookNet Canada

The latest statistics on Canadian book buying, reading, and consumer habits. Noah will answer all the questions you didn’t know you had in this chart-friendly presentation.