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.

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.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Winners' Circle: 57th Annual New England Book Show Is This Wednesday!

View the flyer for the Winners' Circle workshop
Join us for the first workshop of the fall! Attend a lively roundtable discussion with speakers from Cengage and Candlewick, winners at the 2014 New England Book Show. We'll learn about how some of the best-built books from New England publishers were designed and produced.

Wednesday, September 24
6–8 p.m.
At Emerson College
Charles Beard Room (mezzanine level of the Little Building)
80 Boylston Street in Boston

Our workshops are free and open to the public. RSVP here.

If you can't make it to the event, follow @BookbuildersBOS for live tweeting via the #bookbuilders hashtag.

Please note: A valid photo ID is required for building security to check you in to the building.

We hope to see you there!

Monday, September 15, 2014

CNE Dispatch: First Casual Networking Event of the Fall

Bookbuilder Networking September 10

After a summer of mostly going without structured networking opportunities, our monthly Casual Networking Events returned for the fall season last Wednesday. Established and up-and-coming bookbuilders (and a few in between) met at Back Bay Social Club in Boston to talk about all things book and ebook publishing, as well as office and freelance life. There was, of course, a healthy amount of business-card swapping, too.

With this bunch of people, it's easy to find things to talk about. I, myself, had some lively discussions about the subject areas I work in, and I particularly enjoyed catching up with two former interns; introducing them to each other; and then talking at length about our different experiences with job hunting, career planning, and a lot more. And the conversations going on throughout the evening were similarly productive: I caught the tail end of my bookbuilder-friend's mini-coaching session on impostor syndrome with two recent graduates turned young professionals in the industry. DRM was another relevant topic of conversation.

A number of Boston- and Cambridge-area publishers and publisher-services companies were represented, including Perseus, Aptara, the MIT Press, Artech House, and Pearson Education, plus a great bunch of freelancers who specialize in a variety of services, like editing, proofreading, indexing, and project management. Students, too! All are welcome.

Casual Networking Events take place on the second Wednesday of each month, and the location alternates between Boston and Cambridge. The next event is Wednesday, October 8, at Park Restaurant & Bar in Cambridge, 68 p.m.

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Casual Networking Event of the Fall is This Wednesday!

It's Time to Network

Are you ready for Bookbuilders of Boston's new year of monthly Causal Networking Events?

Come join your fellow publishing professionals (and meet new ones):

Wednesday, September 10th
Back Bay Social Club
867 Boylston Street
6-8 p.m. 

Casual networking events are informal meetings with no agenda or cover charge — only a chance to network and have fun. Networking isn’t limited to when you need a job. Meeting people in the industry can improve your knowledge as well as your prospects.

If you haven’t attended one before, we encourage you to try it. Casual networking events are free and open to everyone. Tell us you're coming: RSVP.