MPub Crashes BookNet’s Annual Conference

SFU’s Master of Publishing program often employs leading industry experts to guest speak in lectures. In this way, grads get networking opportunities, as well as the latest professional insight, and, sometimes, industry gossip. I’m sure, for guests, it’s also interesting to see publishing grads in their natural habitat: computer screens illuminated in front of them, frantically taking notes, extending the question period by 5, no 10, no 20 minutes. In spite of two semesters of innumerable guest lecturers, I still felt uneasy attending the prolific, annual Tech Forum and eBook Craft conferences, which mimicked the same classroom atmosphere.

I found myself surrounded by notable industry experts in their own professional environment: mingling, laughing, catching up, exchanging ideas. I felt like I had infiltrated the inner circle. What next: quietly blend in or blatantly be known? To my own embarrassment, I chose the latter. (I really had nothing to lose.)

My mission to crash BookNet’s annual conference was to sufficiently rep’ MPub amongst all these east coasters, make friends everywhere, and win ALL the prizes. I made my own shoddy promotional poster with the beautiful faces of our entire cohort so that they could come along for the ride, and I proceeded to take the picture of each person I met holding the poster.

Artie Moffa, from Yellow Buick Review, single-handedly took on new typesetting solutions for poetry eBooks, instead of using hand-me-down html and css that was originally designed for prose. It wasn’t easy: there was virtually no information on typesetting poetry. Artie now advocates open-source software, which he feels can help publishers communicate through the uncertain, digital changes that the industry is facing.

Rebecca Springer, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is the editor for digital cookbooks–possibly the most complex eBooks that are available. She said that complex eBook layouts don’t need to be made in an app as long as you’re abiding by best-practices of navigation, linking, typography, and imagery.

Laura Brady, of Brady Type, had some strong opinions on fixed layout (FXL). While she admitted that FXL has its place in fixed genres, like graphic heavy children’s books, manga, and graphic novels, its use in other genres is not cost effective, efficient, or accessible.

Colleen Cunningham, from F+W, a content and eCommerce company, developed a new digital-first workflow for her team based on a centralized content management system. She suggested that metadata tagging be integrated into the editor’s responsibilities because they are closest to the content.

Joshua Tallent, from Firebrand Technologies, voiced his frustrations on image formatting in eBook development. “Every reading system seems to handle images differently, and getting them to consistently show up on the same page with a caption is essentially impossible.” So, are we any closer to one eBook standard to rule them all? Him and Colleen hashed it out, but I’m not sure they came to a resolution…

Joanna Karaplis (former MPub) and her BookNet people shared some data on their services, most of which I didn’t understand having never used their services before. But, man, they sure know how to throw a party!

With the success of my mission–to represent MPub, meet new people, and win a whole bunch of sweet prizes–I would like to conclude with some Tech Forum wisdom from the prophetic Brian O’Leary: “Those who do not risk, cannot win.”