Web-first workflows let publishers focus on the stuff that really matters

Hugh McGuire on the upside of web workflows and the future of book production.

Book production workflows are on the minds of most publishers today, as the balance in producing books in both print and digital formats continues to be elusive. At the recent Books in Browsers conference, Hugh McGuire (@hughmcguire), founder of PressBooks (which officially launched last week), addressed workflow issues in his keynote address, “The Beauty of Web-first Workflows.” McGuire said two separate workflows shouldn’t be necessary and that “the beauty of a web-first book production flow is that we can spend a lot more time on the stuff that really matters and less time on the mechanics of getting a book out the door.”

Highlights from the keynote video (below) include:

  • “Ebooks are just a special kind of website, designed to be read in a special kind of browser.” [Discussed at the 1:30 mark.]
  • The browser wars have been dealt with in terms of websites pretty well, but we’re not there yet with books. [Discussed at 2:30.]
  • Paper now is becoming a bigger problem than digital. “Is paper the IE6 of bookmaking in 2011?” Two separate workflows for print and digital shouldn’t be necessary. [Discussed at 8:30.]
  • In a world where anyone can design a beautiful template-based website (ala WordPress, et al.), anyone should be able to produce an ebook or a paper book as easily. This is where book production needs to go, and HTML may be the key. [Discussed at 9:50.]

You can view the entire keynote in the following video.

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