Books in Browsers Conference 2013

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I spoke recently at Books in Browsers, an annual conference for people building the future of the book, and organized by Peter Brantley of hypothesis and Kat Meyer of The Frankfurt Book Fair.

My talk was: “Sausage & Laws, or In the trenches building print books & ebooks using HTML + CSS.” I started with an introduction of some of the things I think are interesting about PressBooks (webby books, open source, the ease of making an API for books), and note that my enthusiasm for these things have not been matched by the market of publishers, authors and readers.

Lucky for us, the core of what we do, single source production of typeset PDFs, EPUBs & MOBIs, is exciting for publishers and authors.

In my talk, I give some examples of the power of a CSS-based approach to designing for print (!), and the kinds of outputs we are doing with PressBooks.

Finally I talk about the struggle to get new, powerful book production technologies to meet certain typographical conventions, for instance, the big sticking point is: bottom-balancing. There are ways around this with tools like PressBooks, but there is a question to be asked, about the value of these conventions going forward. How much we gain from them, and how much they hamper our ability — as an industry, as lovers of the book — to adapt to a new and ever-changing world.

Slide deck

You can find my slide deck below, and a video of my presentation below that.

Sausage & Laws; or, Making P+E books with CSS & HTML from Hugh McGuire


(I start at about ~28mins, before that you can watch John Maxwell & Haig Armen talk about craft, and after that you can watch Richard Nash talk about culture).

Video streaming by Ustream

Comments? Questions? Send me an email at:, or ping me on Twitter: @hughmcguire.