Opening the Doors of the Book Oven

by Hugh

Book Oven Open for Cooking

We’ve been toiling away behind the scenes on the Book Oven for a few months. Now we’re ready to show you what we’ve been cooking. But there’s still work to do, and we want your help in building a new model for publishing.

Are you a writer? An editor? A proofreader? A small press? A designer? An agent?

If so, what would be the ideal web tool to help you get your manuscripts through to finished product? We want to build it, and we want to build a global community of book lovers and makers of books who will come together to make better books.

Bite-Size Edits

Bite-Size EditsOur first offering is Bite-Size Edits, a new way to proofread text. You can help proofread other peoples’ texts, you can proofread your own text (in private) using Bite-Size Edits, you can invite a small group, or open up your project for proofreading by the world.

And, if you can believe it, Bite-Size Edits actually makes proofreading fun. And addictive.

But don’t just trust me, try it.

There is more to Book Oven (though for the next couple of weeks there will be an extra step to see the rest of it…).

Cloud-based Book Publishing

We call it “cloud-based publishing,” but the name doesn’t matter. The web has given us the ability to connect and collaborate in new ways. It’s given us the ability to make and distribute our art and writing to a global audience of billions, at almost no cost. We think this means that millions of people can engage with books in ways they never did before. And we want Book Oven to be a place where book lovers of all stripes come together to help make (and buy! and read!) better books.

Background: LibriVox

Back in 2005 I started a project called LibriVox.org — to get volunteers to make audio recordings of public domain texts. LibriVox started as a crazy idea, but it has evolved into a big, vibrant platform to help groups of people get together to make and publish audiobooks (it’s actually pretty complex, with recording, proof-listening, project management, metadata allocation, uploading, cataloging etc). We’re now the most prolific audiobook publisher in the world, all run in a totally distributed way by “strangers” from all over the globe. It’s worked because people naturally find things they are good at and enjoy – editing audio, recording texts, organizing projects, organizing files, prooflistening, and much more.

And what’s amazing is the creative ways people find to organize themselves to do interesting things when they have the right kind of platform.

Background: Books and Digital

In the mean time, there has been a revolution bubbling in the book world, and digital has arrived: ebooks, print-on-demand, and online sales mean you don’t need thousands of dollars to make & distribute a book anymore. You just need the time and passion and skill.

One of our myths is that writers work alone. In fact, they collaborate all the time: writers share their work, get feedback, editors help them sculpt their language and content, proofreaders clean up their copy, designers make it pretty, other designers make beautiful book covers.

A Space to Collaborate on Books

Book Oven was born of this inspiration: to make an online space where writers could gather a group of collaborators (editors, proofreaders, designer) around their work to help take a raw manuscript through to finished product, and then, if they wish, to sell it through online channels (though of course, if they wish to ship the final manuscript to a publisher, they can do that too; or they can just keep it for themselves).

That’s what a bunch of us have been working on for a few months: Stephanie, Yanik, Antoine, Marie-Eve, Suw, Andy, Dan, Chris, Frederic, and me … and a few others.

So, What is Book Oven?

Book Oven is: an online space to create, collaborate on, and sell books.

In the end, though, it’s about building communities: the smaller communities that form around writers and their works, and a larger community of writers, readers, editors, proofreaders, designers, and book lovers of all kinds.

How far along are we?

We are excited to show you what we’ve built so far. It’s pretty exciting, we think, but there’s more to do. We hope that you can help craft the long-term vision. Right now, you can upload your text in certain formats, build your team, comment on and edit your text, read/annotate in our (we think) beautiful interface. You can also play around with Bite-Size Edits.

But there is much more we want to do.

In the coming months we’ll be tweaking the interface, making things easier & more obvious, adding new features.

We’d like your help

We hope you’ll have fun with Bite-Size Edits. We hope that you’ll poke around in Book Oven. We hope that you’ll start a writing project, and invite some colleagues, friends, editors, reviewers to help you out. We hope that you’ll be tolerant of bugs when you find them, and let us know about them. We hope you’ll be mindful that we have many more features we plan to build, and that we’ll need your help in figuring out what the essential features are.

Above all we hope that you will think of Book Oven as your space, a place where you can contribute to building a new community and platform where you will, we hope, make and help make many great books in the future.

Questions?

If you have questions, problems, confusions etc … please do send me an email:
hugh@bookoven.com

Or ping us on twitter: @bookoven or identi.ca @bookoven.

If you have some specific feedback about Book Oven, bugs or feature requests, you can tell us about it here:
http://feedback.bookoven.com/

Looking forward to seeing you in Book Oven!