Bookbuilders of Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing together people involved in book publishing and manufacturing throughout New England. Our blog describes industry events that we sponsor or attend.

Friday, October 24, 2014

First Annual NEPCo Winners

On Wednesday night, we got together for the inaugural New England Publishing Collaboration Awards, an event celebrating innovative partnerships in publishing. In a lightning round of quick-fire presentations, our ten finalists told us about their collaborations, what they've learned, and how they've contributed to the industry. David Weinberger, author and senior researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard, gave the keynote talk on "peaceful collaboration" in the digital/Internet era.

We're excited to announce the winners!

First Place

Inera Inc., sophisticated editorial and XML solutions for publishers, which has been working with CrossRef for years to promote the use and effectiveness of digital object identifiers (DOIs) and DOI standards among publishers

Second Place

We had a tie for second place:

NetGalley, provider of digital book review copies, for its collaboration with the American Booksellers Association to establish an email newsletter, Digital White Box, which allows member bookstores to access digital galleys and nominate books for the Indie Next List

Digital Science, which develops software for scientific research, for assembling, incubating, and continuing to support ten collaborative start-up companies to serve scholars at all stages of research

Third Place

Harvard Common Press, publisher of inspiring cookbooks and parenting guides, for its investment in three food start-ups and establishment of a co-working loft for food entrepreneurs in Boston

More Information

For more on the presentations, David Weinberger's talk, and the post-event Q&A session, catch up on our live tweets. And if you were in the audience or entered a project for the awards, don't forget to give us your feedback on this inaugural event by taking this quick survey.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Gallery: October Casual Networking Event

On Wednesday, we got together at Park Restaurant & Bar in Harvard Square for our monthly casual  networking, and it was a lively and informative evening, as always.

Join us next time! We'll be back in Boston on November 12, 6 p.m., at Back Bay Social Club.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Bookbuilders @ the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo

MICE (that's the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) was this weekend in Cambridge, and several of our members attended. Here's some of what they did and what they enjoyed most.

Iris Febres, New England Book Show co-chair: "MICE was really fun! I got to attend a cool workshop on writing comics, which was led by Alexander Danner, a playwright and special instructor at Emerson College who teaches in the graphic novel certificate program. I learned about the power of the panel for framing content and tone within a comic. And of course, after hearing a panel on graphic novel development with three amazing artists, I bought lots of books."
Alexander Danner, comics writer and special instructor at Emerson College leading his workshop, "Writing Comics" A snapshot from "Developing the Graphic Novel," a panel featuring artists Raina Telgemeier, Paul Hornschemeier, and Emily Carroll (not pictured), moderated by Alexander Danner

Miranda Martin, blog editor (that's me!): "This was my first time at MICE, and I had a blast at 'Iron Cartoonist,' an improv competition that pitted three comic creators against each other to draw some zany scenarios on the spot. I also attended a panel on editing for comics and met some great comic creators who were exhibiting their work. Some of my favorites were Bikeyface (whom I'd met once before), Alisa Harris, and Eleri Harris."

Contestants Jon Chad (left), Eleri Harris (center), and Carey Pietsch (right) competed in "Iron Cartoonist." This round challenged them to draw a machine that  makes fish.

Tanya Gold, New England Book Show committee member: "I returned on Sunday for a fascinating panel on marketing for micro-presses and self-publishers. The panelists had diverse perspectives and a great sense of humor. They discussed manufacturing, social media, crowdfunding, events, and attitude.  

Some great tips: Start small. Make yourself as approachable as possible. Ask your fans for retweets. Get everyone’s email address. Cut out the self-deprecation. Invest in gel insoles."

It was great having all these indie comic creators in our community. Soon, we'll be posting the call for entries for the 58th Annual New England Book Show, and we're excited to welcome comics and independently published books of all kinds. We saw lots of great stuff this weekend that we hope we'll see again.

Casual Networking This Wednesday!

Join us for our next Casual Networking Event this Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 8
6–8 p.m.
Park Restaurant & Bar
59 JFK Street in Cambridge

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fall Workshop: Innovations in Editorial Workflows

Our next fall workshop will focus on innovations in editorial workflows. Learn about how local publishers have developed innovative workflows to adapt to the marketplace’s digital and print demands. Speakers include representatives from O'Reilly Media and the Editorial Freelancers Association. A Q&A will follow the discussion.
October 14, 2014
6–8 p.m.
Pearson Education
501 Boylston Street,  Boston
9th Floor, in the Cafeteria.

Free and open to the public.
Please note: A valid photo ID is required to gain admittance from building security.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

What Is NEPCo?
Bookbuilders of Boston has been awarding the best in New England book production, manufacturing, and design for well over 50 years (we're currently in the planning stages for next year's 58th Annual New England Book Show), and we think it's time we start awarding something new, too. We're launching the New England Publishing Collaboration Awards this October to recognize the region's publishers who are experimenting, innovating, adapting, and really inspiring us by teaming up with tech startups, upstart channels, and others—and even each other.

So who's coming up with the newest and boldest developments in the business? And more importantly, what can we learn from them? This is what we'll find out at the NEPCo Awards. The ten finalists will describe their projects live on stage, in rapid-fire multimedia presentations. (And we're serious about the rapid-fire part!) Judges will select three winners, and the audience also gets to vote. Plus, there will be popcorn. Be sure to buy your tickets to attend—and hurry! Bookbuilders member discounts end tomorrow!


October 21, 6–8 p.m.
Doors open at 5:15 p.m.
Pre-show networking encouraged!
The Brattle Theatre
40 Brattle Street, Cambridge

Post-Event Reception

You can also stay for a post-event reception: a group discussion moderated by David Sandberg, co-owner of Porter Square Books, networking, and dinner from Harvard Square's Flat Patties.

Learn  more about the ten finalists, our guest speaker, and more at

Friday, September 26, 2014

Panel Recap: New England Book Show Winners' Circle

This week, we gathered in Emerson College's Charles Beard Room to hear from Cate Barr, senior art director at Cengage, and Angela Dombroski, production manager at Candlewick, about the design and production efforts that went into their winning books from this year's New England Book Show. We also welcomed the class of students from Mass Art who will be designing next year's Book Show catalog, along with some familiar and new Bookbuilders faces.

Book Show Winner: Cengage

First up was Cate, who explained the art and design choices and processes that went into the final version of Cengage's winning humanities textbook, Cultures & Values.

Cate Barr, senior art director at Cengage, on winning textbook Cultures & Values 
Although Cultures & Values is a textbook, it's treated essentially as a fine art book because of the art history subject material: it's full of images of paintings, statues, and other kinds of art that need to look good on the page. Cate explained that paper quality has a significant effect on how good the images look once they're printed, so this particular book used the highest-quality paper. This aspect is actually really important to professors who have several options for textbooks to assign to their courses. Professors often look though potential textbooks to see which one reproduces the art the best before making their selections.

How do you check the reproduction quality of the art before the final books are printed? The answer is scatter proofs: a few of the images are printed together on a sheet, rather than where they actually belong in a book.

For choosing the layout, Cate says, she always looks at the competitors and then aims to be better. This book went through three or four rounds of review with the author! Consistent color palettes are also important. This design uses a lot of neutral, earthy colors to support the vibrant art.

Cate shows off the interior layout of Cultures & Values.
And speaking of color, consistent colors are one of the greatest values print can offer for art books--you can't control how the colors will look on the customer's iPad.

Book Show Winner: Candlewick

Zebra Forest cover design
Second, we welcomed Angela Dombroski, production manager at Candlewick. Angela told us all about—all about—the production process, and a bit about how it affected the design, of Candlewick's two winning YA books, Zebra Forest and Kingdom of Little Wounds.

The jacket design for Zebra Forest is a real standout, and it has a special feature: only the small section with the title is glossy; the rest of the jacket is matte. Angela went into a lot of detail explaining how the press achieves this effect (it involves UV!). There are all kinds of other effects books can have, but they tend to be limited by the budget. To opt for a fancy effect in one area, it's common to have to sacrifice something else, like paper quality.

Because color is so important to Candlewick and because lamination has a huge effect on color, even the proofs are laminated in the same way the final jackets will be. There are many different options for laminations.

One of the keys to laminations and coatings, she said, is the scratch test. This was especially relevant for Candlewick's other Book Show winner, Kingdom of Little Wounds. This book has a matte finish, but matte film can scuff very easily, making new books look used right away. It has lots of other effects on the cover, too, but its most noticeable effect might be its stained edges. That is, the edges of the pages are stained red, a process that's expensive and a little tricky because it's done manually.

To show us the immense range of production options for book covers and jackets, Angela brought a whole bag full of samples for the audience to see and feel. There were different kinds of paper, colors, coatings—a lot of options.
The audience got to check out lots of production samples.
We wrapped up with a few questions about the design process. Why might an initial cover design be rejected? At Candlewick, it's often because it doesn't fit the book's age range. It could also be too similar to other current Candlewick books. "We might just have too many covers with pensive-looking girls on them right now," Angela said. And some of the hardest books to design are those about sensitive issues, like disability. It's important to approach those with a lot of tact and sensitivity.

Next Time

We all learned so much from this panel that it was basically a crash-course in book design and production. For even more, you can catch up on our tweets from the event.

In October, we'll be discussing a big topic in the industry right now: innovations in editorial workflows. We'll announce the details soon.