Reflection & Reaction: The eBook Architects Workshop
My flight back to Boston isn’t until 6 p.m. tonight, so I’m writing this from the eBook Architects office – lovingly known as “where the magic happens.” The eBook production workshop has finally wrapped up, and the Ninjas are back to work. All I can hear is clicking, typing, and Toby going over a project with another Ninja, pointing at two different monitors. Across from my laptop are six different e-readers, including three Kindles. I know exactly where I am.
I didn’t really know what to expect as I prepared for this trip, as I sat on a plane to Austin, as I waited at the baggage claim for the Ninjas to appear
from the darkness. I certainly did not expect the overwhelming warmth that came from the professionals I met at this workshop, including the original Ninjas themselves: Toby, Chris, and Joshua.
They picked me up and were all smiles; it was like returning to a group of friends. At the hotel, we all got together at a pre-planned mixer. I had dinner and met most of the attendees. Some came from publishers, others were freelancers, but all were eager to learn about successful eBook production.
The workshop was intense. I learned how to make a Kindle file (and the messiness that endeavor entails), how to create a book with fixed-width (iBooks), a whole mess of work in Regular Expressions and Perl, and what’s coming into play with EPUB 3. I learned about workflows and ways to make them more efficient, along with different tools that can guide ePub creators and help detect issues. I learned everyone has a lot to learn from creating ebooks, and that it’s a collaborative effort. And above all else, I learned that while I may still be a student, and not a professional in a technical sense, I’m not the only one curious, fascinated, and yes, overwhelmed with the affairs of electronic publishing. This is (a) serious business!
I think the best part of the workshop was this: it was amazing to talk to people who loved, lived, and breathed this stuff, this delightful chaos we’re trying to harness for readers all over the world. There is a community within electronic publishing that is growing, and it is full of people who are looking ahead to what can be discovered in this realm of digital content.
This workshop gave me a fantastic opportunity: I learned practical skills to utilize whenever I work within the ePUB format. I learned some good habits to practice during coding. I also networked with accomplished, driven professionals who have been involved with publishing for years, and all of them brought so many approaches to the table. After all, there is no one, perfect way of doing things.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend a workshop of this kind, whether it’s hosted by eBook Architects or anyone else, do it. Please, please, please do it. You’ll gain an incredible understanding of not only what makes up the field of electronic publishing, but who. And if you’re anything like me, you’re not going to want to leave. It’s these kinds of opportunities that can give you a boost of confidence for your work – you won’t regret it.