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By Allison MacLachlan
November 7, 2011
6:01 PM

Filed under News

PressBooks debuts with “Futurist’s Manifesto” for publishing

With the launch of a new essay collection about the future of publishing, Montreal-based startup PressBooks hopes to demonstrate the effectiveness of its online book-production platform.

Described as a “handbook for publishers of the future,” Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto: A Collection of Essays from the Bleeding Edge of Publishing covers topics such as distribution, design, and “discoverability” in the digital age. Co-edited by Brian O’Leary and PressBooks founder Hugh McGuire, and published by California technology specialist O’Reilly Media, the book was produced using digital tools developed by the firm, which offers publishers and would-be authors access to design templates and digital conversion software.

The PressBooks platform is designed as an easy way to streamline book production, including editing, proofreading, and typesetting, McGuire says, and it allows print and e-books to be developed on the same platform. “E-book production seems to be complicated for a lot of publishers,” he says. “We wanted to make it very easy and also inexpensive.”

McGuire says he approached O’Reilly because of the company’s forward-thinking approach. “They’re one of the most innovative publishers around, and they’re aggressive in adopting and testing out new technologies,” he says.

PressBooks also has an original approach to publishing, taking on no role in sales, marketing, or distribution. “We don’t see ourselves as a publisher,” McGuire says. “We’re just providing a tool for publishers, or anyone who wants to publish a book.”

A Futurist’s Manifesto is the first in a three-book series with O’Reilly. PressBooks is also working with Columbia University Press and the Harvard Business Review on forthcoming titles, and McGuire says an additional 750 authors and publishers are currently “playing around” with the technology.

Pricing details are still being worked out, but the PressBooks website lists monthly fees starting at $25.

A Futurist’s Manifesto is for sale as an e-book and as a print-on-demand title through online retailers such as Amazon and Indigo. It can also be read for free at the PressBooks website.

“This book was really just the first example of a professionally published book that went through our system,” McGuire says. “I’d like to see it become a standard production tool.”

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