Hugh McGuire

Hi there.

I’ve been hacking book culture and its relationship to the web for a about nine years now.

I’m the founder of PressBooks, an online book publishing platform built on WordPress, and of LibriVox.org, the largest library of free, public domain audiobooks in the world, all read by volunteers.


I’m the founder of the small commercial audiobook company, Iambik Audiobooks, and I’m the co-editor, with Brian O’Leary, of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto — Essays from the bleeding edge of publishing (O’Reilly).

I’ve talked about the future of publishing around the world, and my work has appeared in various places in print, bits and audio, including: the New York Times, Forbes, the LA Times, BBC Radio, the New Yorker, CBC Radio, NPR, Techcrunch and Pando Daily.

Book: A Futurist's Manifesto Cover

I’m a member of the Media Hacks podcast team.

If you’d like to get in touch, find out how here, or:

* Send me an email: hughmcguire@gmail.com.

* Ping me on Twitter: @hughmcguire

Here are some of the things I’ve been involved with starting, one way or another:

  • PressBooks – a simple web-based book production tool (info)
  • iambik audiobooks – a new kind of audiobook company info)
  • LibriVox – free public domain audio books (info)
  • Bite-Size Edits – a video game for grammarians (info)
  • BookCampToronto – an “unconference” about the future of books (info)
  • Earideas – a collection of the best audio on the web (info)
  • Book Oven Blog – a blog about the future of books and publishing (info)
  • Media Hacks – a podcast, hosted by Mitch Joel, about technology & media (info)
  • Datalibre – a blog about citizen access to government data (info)
  • Book Oven – a digital publishing platform (info)

PressBooks – PressBooks is an online book publishing platform that makes it easy for you and your team to generate clean, well-formatted books in multiple outputs: .epub, print-ready PDF, InDesign-ready XML, and HTML. PressBooks is built on WordPress and is open source.

LibriVox – I’m founder of LibriVox.org, an all-volunteer project that makes free, public domain audiobooks. LibriVox was once called “perhaps the most interesting collaborative cultural project this side of Wikipedia.” We are the most prolific audiobook publisher in the world, putting out 70-100 books a month. We have a catalog of 3,318 books (as of April 2010) in 29 languages. All driven by the passion of thousands of volunteers around the world who love books. Here is even more info about LibriVox. Some nice things various people have said about LibriVox: Reason Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Montreal Gazette, New York Times, red hat magazine, The World – BBC Radio, wired.com, IT conversations (audio), creative commons, wikinews, Les Echos [fr]. And here is the site: LibriVox.org.

iambik – iambik is a new kind of audiobook company, built with a similar model to LibriVox, but tweaked, twiddled, and adapted for the commercial market. We partner with great independent presses, connect them with a network of distributed audiobook makers, make audiobooks, and sell them. Our objective is to make as many audiobooks of great books as we can. You can read some nice things about iambik from Salon.comDigital Book World, and eMusic.

Bite-Size Edits (RIP) Bite-Size Edits – is a crazy thing we built, which the New Yorker called a “video game for editors.” We take a text, chop it up into sentences, and serve those sentences at random to editors. It’s a proofreading tool, a game, a way to connect writers and readers, all in the name of good sentences. Why not go edit, for fun? (Too late, alas, Bite-Size Edits is no more).

BookCamp TorontoBookCampTo is a yearly unconference about the future of books, publishing, writing and reading. It’s an intimate gathering of writers, publishers, technologists, librarians, readers and people passionate about the written words, and the technologies used to ship them around and consume them. Find out more.

earideasEarideas = ear + ideas … get it? A a collection of thought-provoking radio shows and podcasts from around the web, updated daily. This is the stuff I listen to on a regular basis – culled from a variety of sources, including public broadcasters in Australia, the UK, US, and some other countries, including a dwindling list of shows from the once-great CBC. In addition, there is stuff from the NY Times, the Economist, Times Online, Nature Magazine, among others. It’s built to make it easy to find good stuff to listen to. Start giving your ears some ideas: earideas. (Too late, defunct!)

Book Oven Blog (RIP) – For a while I was writing a bunch about “the future of publishing,” on the Book Oven Blog. One thing you might like to check out is the Book Oven Blog’s series of Monday Typewriters. They’re lovely.

Media HacksMitch Joel, Julien Smith and I used to go to lunch all the time, and have heated discussions about media, technology, the Internet and other sundry topics. One day Mitch said: “we should record these.” He had the idea to bring in a few other smart people: Chris Penn, CC Chapman, and Chris Brogan. And so, Media Hacks was born. It’s a 40 minuteish free-flowing discussion about whatever is on our minds – much like those lunches of yore. Unfortunately it doesn’t really have its own URL that actually updates, so you’ll have to visit Mitch’s podcast to find the ones titled: Media Hacks. (Media Hacks secret trivia: when we were debating the name for the podcast, a leading candidate was “Zoltan’s Underwear”).

datalibre.ca – One of my neglected passions is citizen access to government data. I think datasets that are collected by the government with taxpayer money belong to the citizens, and should be available for free, in open formats. For instance: did you know that you have to pay thousands of dollars to the government to get the data set that links postal codes to electoral districts, and once you have done so, your usage of that dataset is restricted? DataLibre is a blog about issues surrounding citizen access to data. I am an absentee founding-editor. The present editor is Tracey Lauriault.

Book Oven (RIP)Book Oven was a digital book-publishing platform. It has died and been replaced (like the phoenix) by PressBooks.

In addition to these things, I:

  • Am on the Board of Directors of the Conversations Network
  • Am a past-president of the Board of Directors of the Atwater Library, Canada’s last remaining Mechanic’s Institute
  • Play rugby (occasionally) with North America’s oldest rugby club, Westmount Rugby Club.
  • Cook, enjoy wine, whisk(e)y, stretch for 10 minutes every morning, and am married to the lovely Christine. We have a beautiful daughter, Beatrice (who we call Kiki).

Before rediscovering the web, I worked in environmental finance, where I helped build and market structured financial products to address the risk of greenhouse gas emission reduction requirements for large global energy companies, while financing greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects. It was souped-up, complex carbon trading, and we were far too early.

I’ve got degrees in Mathematics & Engineering, as well as Philosophy, from Queen’s University.

[pic by Dan Parsons]