Categories: books, myprojects

BookCampToronto – Tentative Schedule

I just sent this out to the world: the tentative schedule for BookCampToronto, May 15 (and for more detailed session info: here).

Follow us on Twitter: @bookcampto
Hashtag: #bcto2010
Web site:



9:30 Launching a Digital Business from Inside a Print Business
* Sulemaan Ahmed (Director of Digital Marketing, Harlequin)
* Jenny Bullough (Manager, Digital Content Harlequin)

10:30 Reading is Everywhere
* Michael Serbinis (CEO, Kobo)

11:30 Distribution for Everyone
* Allen Lau (CEO, Wattpad)

2:00 When CanLit Becomes GlobalLit
* Sarah MacLachlan (Publisher, Anansi)
* Michael Tamblyn (EVP Content, Sales & Merchandising, Kobo)

3:00 Data-geek Extravaganza! Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Bibliographic Metadata.
* Julia Horel-O’Brien (General Manager, LitDistCo)
* Meghan MacDonald (Project Coordinator, BookNet Canada).

4:00 Building Communities
* Tan Light (Coordinator, Digital Sales and Marketing, Random House)
* Meg Mathur (Online Merchandising Manager, Indigo)


9:30 The (Shifting) Role of Design in Publishing
* Ingrid Paulson (Ingrid Paulson Design)

10:30 But Is It Art?
* Kelsey Blackwell (StudioBlackwell)

11:30 Obscure Objects of Desire
* Neil Stewart (Anstey Book Binding)
* Aurelie Collings (Folded&Gathered Books)

2:00 From Letterpress to XHTML
* Scott Boms (Principal, Wishingline)
* Joe Clark (journalist, author, and web accessibility consultant)

3:00 The Book of MPub
* John Maxwell (et al.), SFU/Canadian Centre for Studies in Publishing

4:00 Venturing Beyond the Text
* Ian Barker (CEO, Symtext) & TBA


9:30 eBooks in Education and Academia — the glacial revolution
* John Dupuis (York University)
* Evan Leibovitch (York University)

10:30 Writing about Writing
* Stuart Woods (Editor, Quill & Quire)
* Amy Logan-Holmes (Executive Director, OpenBook Toronto)
* Conan Tobias (Taddle Creek)

11:30 Where are you at? Geolocating Lit
* Ashleigh Gardener, (Digital Manager, Dundurn Press)

2:00 Leaping off the Page: Transmedia Storytelling
* Mark Leslie Lefebvre (Titles Bookstore)
* Jill Golick (consultant, screenwriter, creative producer)

3:00 Unleashing Your Inner Reader
* Marichka Melnyk (CBC Radio, CanadaReads)

4:00 The sBook
* Bob Logan, Greg Van Alstyne, Peter Jones and friends -sLab at OCAD


9:30 Literate Video Games
* Tim Maly (Founder, Capybara Games) & TBA

10:30 What Does the Writer Want?
* Nichole McGill (author)

11:30 A Bucket of Cold Water – a Digital Reality Check
* Denise Bukowski (The Bukowski Agency)

2:00 Writers from the sidelines: challenges and successes
* Khadija I

3:00 The Onset of Exhaustion: Publishing in 2010
* Alana Wilcox (Editor-in-Chief, Coach House Books)

4:00 Going Alone: Educating the Market
* K Sawyer Paul (Gredunza Press)
* Eisee Sylvester (Gredunza Press)


9:30 Digital Do-Dads: Digital Reading Devices
* Mark Pavlidis & TBA

10:30 Making Books into Audio
* Miette (

11:30 Video and Books
* Ian Daffern (IDFACTORY)

2:00 Print-on-Demand Workshop
* Rob Clements, Lightning Source Inc.

3:00 Pimping Your Book
* Ian Paul Marshall (Book Marketing & Toronto Writers Mastermind)

Categories: myprojects


The only way I can read web sites these days is either using the Readability bookmarklet, or Instapaper. The rest of “web design” (mostly) strikes me as a distraction from what I want: the text.

I’ve been meaning to update the theme on this blog for some time, along with sprucing up some of the aboutish stuff too (still in process).

I played around a bit with some other minimalist WordPress themes, but this one – Manifest, by Jim Barraud – seemed to most closely match what I want these days out of a web page. Namely, to get the hell out of the way, and leave the text to do what it’s supposed to do.

I’ll likely be doing some little tweaks and fiddles over the next while. Though the beauty of this Theme is its constraints: there’s not much fiddling to be done, without a bit more than my rudimentary html skills.

In any case I like the look.

Now I just need to write a bit more.

Categories: books, myprojects

Bite-Size Goes Social

A recent study done by Roger Bohn of UC San Diego, estimates that the average American consumes about 36,000 words of text per day, during leisure hours. That number includes print, email, the web, and text messaging. That’s a lot of text. At that rate the average American could read Moby Dick every week.

The question you might ask yourself is: who is creating all that text? Well, if you are reading this, there’s a good chance that you are.

You might ask another question: who’s going to edit all that text? And if you are reading this, we’re hoping you’ll help with some of it.

Connecting Writers, Readers, and Word-lovers

That’s why we built Bite-Size Edits: so that people who write text can connect with people who can improve it. Usually that implies a vice versa.

Last month, we announced that we’d split Bite-Size Edits out of Book Oven, but it was a very barebones affair: text in, editing, text out. But while editing is the reason for the existence of Bite-Size Edits, the real power lies in connecting writers, readers, editors and people who love words.

We’ve just released a whole host of new social features: contacts, random editing, privacy controls on texts, and much more. We’ve built in some gamish stuff too – everything you do in Bite-Size Edits will win you points, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Try It, It’s Fun!

So, we invite you to come take a look at the new Bite-Size Edits, to add some text for editing, and even better, to do some editing yourself.

Bite-Size Edits is a work-in-progress, and we’d love to get your feedback, suggestions, as well as your complaints.

You can tell us what you think by:

* sending us an email at: contact AT bitesizeedits DOT com

* @’ing us on Twitter at: @bookoven or @bitesizeedits

* submitting bug reports or user feedback at:

Categories: books, buisness, myprojects

In L’Actualité

actualiteIl y’a une petite article dans L’Actualité (Sept 09) sur Book Oven et LibriVox:

« Le numérique ne tuera pas l’édition traditionnelle, mais il va la changer », dit Hugh McGuire. Cet ancien ingénieur en mécanique âgé de 35 ans lançait en 2007 un autre collectif, Earideas, qui recense les balados (podcasts) de l’heure sur le Web. Et voilà qu’il vient de créer The Book Oven, un nouveau type de maison d’édition. « The Book Oven offrira une plateforme d’autoédition, qui permettra à un auteur de collaborer avec des rédacteurs, des réviseurs, des recherchistes, des photographes, des maquettistes », dit Hugh McGuire. [more…]

Categories: books, myprojects, web

Book Oven in the Gazette

Roberto Rocha of the Montreal Gazette has a good article about Book Oven and the new publishing landscape, with a nice pic out the window of the office (with me blocking the view, unfortunately):

Before the Internet, when a writer could not find a publisher to print and sell a manuscript, he could take matters into his own hands, head to the print shop, and hawk the book himself.
Rejected auteurs today have it easier, with a handful of websites that let them write, edit and print books bound like the pros.

Call it Self-publishing 2.0. And it’s one of the fastest-growing sectors of the book world, which is itself enjoying a nice growth period despite the recession and the glut of competing media choices.
“Like in any other media, when you the make tools of publishing easy, people will take advantage of it,” said Hugh McGuire, founder of Montreal self-publishing start-up Book Oven. “It’s just now coming into public consciousness.”

McGuire is one of the leaders of the movement toward digital empowerment in books. When it officially launches (it’s in beta testing now), Book Oven will let people collaborate in the writing, editing and proofreading of a book, all through online tools. When it’s ready, book lovers will be able to buy a copy on the website, either in electronic or paper format. [more…]

Hugh at 2020

Tomorrow I’ll be posting a long-winded manifesto about the term “self-publishing.”

LibriVox Turns Four

librivoxToday is LibriVox’s 4th birthday. LibriVox is a kooky kind of project with the following objective:

To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet.

Some statistics, as of today:

Total recorded time in all rss-ified works: 49596721 seconds, or 574 days, 0 hours, 52 minutes, and 1 seconds. Total of 50774 sections.

If you have a soft spot in your heart for LibriVox, perhaps you might consider leaving a little message on the blog, or the forum.

Or even better, perhaps you might help us record a few chapters of public domain texts? …

Categories: books, myprojects

Opening the Doors of the Book Oven

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 — 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.


If you have questions, problems, confusions etc … please do send me an email:

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

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

Looking forward to seeing you in Book Oven!

Media Hack 12: Mobile & the Changes that Twitter Wrought

This week on Media Hacks we talk about the new iPhone, the next level of mobile, and … yep … Twitter, Iran, and the characteristics of the reach of microblogging.

> Media Hacks 12

Categories: books, myprojects

BookCamp in National Post

There’s a nice article, and some goofy pictures of me, about BookCampToronto in the National Post:

While some may bristle at a group of outsiders spearheading discussion on the future of books, the industry response has been positive.

“I really think I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, but book publishing needs to stop being so insular. We need to stop just looking at our own industry for inspiration,” says Deanna McFadden, marketing manager, online content and strategy for HarperCollins. “The people who are doing BookCamp in Toronto are all smart people who understand where the industry is and where we need to go, and are really looking at innovative ways for us to keep book publishing alive and healthy.”

That seems to be at the root of Book-Camp Toronto — not a hostile takeover, a rejection of traditional books for e-books or putting big publishers out of business.

“I care deeply about books and literature and the publishing business,” McGuire says, “and I’d like to see a thriving future for writers and readers and people in between.” – Check back in two weeks for our letter from BookCamp. And check The Afterword and Twitter for live coverage. [more…]

For some reason the article is posted twice, with different pics.

Categories: myprojects

Book Oven Reveals a Little Bite

bite size editsWould you like to take a look at what we are doing at Book Oven? We are building an online collaboration platform for the making of books. Lots still in development, and everything still in alpha (meaning still private, still not finished). But we are starting with a small (private) alpha launch today of Bite-Size Edits, a collaborative proofreading tool.

Or, a word-based online game.

Or, a massive — yet productive — time waster.

Anyway, we’d like you to tell us what you think …

To get some feedback, while doing some good for the universe, we are starting by helping Project Gutenberg & Distributed Proofreaders edit some of their public domain texts. If it works, we hope to keep feeding error correction into the Gutenberg/Distributed Proofreaders process.

For more info, and to login, see the Book Oven Gutenberg Rally.

There are a bunch of codes below, please use one and post in the comments which one you’ve taken.

If you do have time to try it out and have problems, please let me know:

Also, feel free to use the invites from your account if you think you know others who might be interested…

Again, here is the URL:

And here is a first batch of codes. Use one and post below which one you used.