Call for Proposals

Books in Browsers VII: Telling Small Stories
November 3 & 4, 2016 | San Francisco

All around us, people are making up different kinds of stories, creating new ways to inform, share, and entertain with myriads of digital impressions. Using mobile photography, we are recording texts ranging from pages in print books to grocery lists; snapping public signage as well as screenshots of our friends’ mobile phones and web pages. We are creating and sharing videos on periscope and other social platforms, documenting fragments of our daily lives and stitching them together into “filmlets.” With Google Cardboard, we’re in the early stages of merging camera views into immersive, full circle explorations of our world, with soundtracks and text captions.

The boundary between reality and story fades into shadow. Our ability to modify and share perceptions of our world has evolved in just a few years from imposing sepia tones on pictures to creating paths for viewers to explore in immersive VR. The availability of editing pictures and videos by adding narration, filters, or sound tracks is a leap beyond older conceptions of remix culture which focused on recombining or commenting on larger wholes in a new form.

This is a storytelling world of many small pieces. Pictures, pieces of texts, short segments of VR, Streetview, and even animated gifs: we’re weaving these recordings and impressions together to create new forms of art; new windows to our world. Many of these individual recordings are addressable on the internet – with their own URL, metadata, and varying degrees of persistence – available to be re-combined with an ease rarely before seen.

Books in Browsers VII is about how we are telling small stories, and how we are knitting together our networked impressions to form larger wholes. Join us, November 3-4 at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts’ theater, in the Mission District of San Francisco as Books in Browsers pushes beyond the boundary of text based publishing into this new, growing world of many small pieces, loosely joined.

Books in Browsers VII is open for proposals. Our gathering runs over two days, with typical attendance is around 125, heavily skewed toward active developers, UX specialists, designers, and artists. Our talks run short – 10-15 minutes, and we will experiment more with informal breakouts this year. We encourage collaborations. Sight, sound, and moving image are all supported formats. Registration is waived for speakers; we can sometimes make a modest contribution to individuals requiring travel assistance. International submissions are strongly encouraged. Edginess is courted.

To submit your proposal, please fill out the form below. The deadline to submit is Friday, July 1, 2016.

Books in Browsers on Hiatus for 2015

From Peter Brantley, conference chair of Books in Browsers:

Since 2010, I’ve helped to organize a small but wonderful conference in publishing, Books in Browsers. BiB has sought to provide a neutral “safe place” where the leading edge of designers and developers could wrangle about the evolution of publishing on the web. In many ways, the world has long outgrown BiB’s titular references — it’s not just about books, nor about browsers.

Today, with my colleagues at Frankfurt Book Fair, we’ve decided that 2014’s BiB will be the last of its run. We’re calling a hiatus for this year, and we’re going to take some time to figure out what kind of gathering should come next for publishing — or whatever this odd and peculiar drive to communicate is becoming — and consider our restart for 2016.

We’re making this transition for good reasons. In the last six years, the concept of reading books online has spread from a wide-eyed fantasy to the point where browser-based software libraries are common. Early online publishing systems are moving beyond hybrid forms into a new generation of Internet-powered platforms supporting complex but easily customizable business processes. With growing inevitability, we are abandoning highly integrated, tightly structured workflows in favor of a suite of individual services that operate as peers, messaging each other when they need invocation: writing, editing, review, and distribution can iterate, called into being when needed rather than chained together in a waterfall. This framework, built on the open web, was one reason that the W3C recently became a sponsor of BiB.

The tension of this shift was apparent when I drafted the call for papers for BiB this year:

“With rapidly increasing fluency in digital design, book authors and storytelling artists are exploring new ways of presenting information and inserting multi-threaded narratives into a diverse range of interfaces.” This focus is on mobile interface design, immersion, pwned tools for sharing, and multi-threaded narratives that could be contextually informed by sensed data. This is a shift away from the original community that BiB addressed, and we need to reconsider our mission and goals. So we shall.

In any community-supported project, there are always too many people to thank. The impetus for the meeting rose from Brewster Kahle’s vision of openness and the right for all people to have free and unencumbered access to information. O’Reilly Media was our first partner, and Kat Meyer was my unflagging co-organizer and enthusiastic colleague. My employers, the Internet Archive,, and NYPL, gave their assistance with grace and patience. My colleagues at the Frankfurt Book Fair, Thomas Minkus, Hannah Johnson, and Grace Moss (who held the whole thing together), have grown to become close friends. I look forward to continuing to work with them.

We were also blessed with generous sponsors, including Safari Books Online, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation was excited enough about BiB to support the conference for several years running.

Most important of all, thanks to everyone who attended, often repeatedly, and those of you who contributed your thoughts and dreams as speakers. Through these gifts, you made the conference your own. The best gatherings are those that burn brightly with the memories of glorious company and shared discoveries, and if the ones we have are any indication, we’ve done alright.

With apologies to Thoreau, We’ll be back.

Call for Proposals 2014

Call for Proposals!

Books in Browsers V:
Advancing Open Web Standards and Digital Publishing

23-25 October 2014, San Francisco, CA
at the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts

Submission deadline: July 28, 2014.

Over the last four years, Books in Browsers has advanced from a discussion of how startups might optimize existing publisher workflows to an exploration of the concept of “craft” in digital-native authoring and reading environments. This focus is bumping up squarely against the current limitations of web browsers to author, display, and link page elements together in ways that liberate the next generation of digital publishing.

Simultaneously, there is a burst of interest in how evolving web standards can advance publishing and the practice of storytelling, and reciprocally how the frontiers of design, user interaction, and narrative can inform the objectives for web standards, common open source tools, and widely deployed services. One of the most obvious signposts of this engagement is the emergence of the W3C Digital Publishing Interest Group (DigPub IG).

However, the need for more highly articulated web standards extends far beyond the affordances necessary to support internationalized and interactive ebooks. Supporting the sophisticated graphic arts of desktop-based publishing tools such as Adobe InDesign eludes web authoring environments. The absence of alternatives to these layout applications places roadblocks on the opportunities for digital craft to reprise existing print production practice, much less innovate in areas of precision text or object placement. The lack of coherence in media players for audio and video hinder reliable and uniform cross-platform playback and experience. Tools for working with audio-video integration, such as Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker, are immature and have not been deployed in authoring environments. The litany of real and perceived gaps is long.

In order to encourage conversations among the leading edge of user experience designers and software engineers building authoring, reading, and interaction environments for the web, Books in Browsers V encourages submissions on design goals and open web standards required for digital publishing to achieve its greatest promise, and on forms of digital publishing likely to stress existing web practice. The significance of W3 engagement in digital publishing activities signals a desire to help construct a near-term future where many publishing primitives, such as authoring, editing, annotation, and collaboration are built directly into web rendering engines and user agents, supported by local browser data storage, enabling distributed interactions that advance research, learning, and the enjoyment of new arts.

BiB will be co-hosted by the Project and the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) and will take place in a theater space currently being renovated by the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts (GAFFTA), a San Francisco not-for-profit supported by the National Endowment of the Arts. (  GAFFTA is also a partner with swissnex San Francisco, the Swiss government’s science, technology, arts, and outreach mission that will host the post-event BiB hackday. BIB V scheduling is coordinated with the W3C DigPub IG, which hosts a standards workshop the following week in Santa Clara, California.

To submit a proposal, please fill out this form:

BiB IV: Speakers

BiB IV is produced and sponsored by and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Event space and staffing support are generously donated by the
Internet Archive and swissnex San Francisco.

Registration is now open.

Safari Books Online is the BiB IV “Niobium” level sponsor.
Additional support is provided by: Constellation (Perseus) and Green Apple Books.

The meeting will be held from 24-25 October 2013 at the Internet Archive.
A “hackday” event will be held on 26 October 2013 at swissnex San Francisco.

Books in Browsers

Adam Hyde, Book Sprints
Allen Tan, New York Times
Anna von Veh, Say Books
Anthon Astrom, Lukas Zimmer, Astrom/Zimmer
Baldur Bjarnason, Unbound
Bill McCoy, IDPF
Clifton Meador, Columbia College Chicago
Corey Pressman, Exprima Media
Dan Whaley, Jake Hartnell,
Dominique Cunin, EnsAD
Étienne Mineur, les éditions volumiques
Gerardo Capiel, Benetech
Haig Armen, Lift Studios
Hugh McGuire, Pressbooks
Jason Merkoski, BookGenie451
James Bridle, Booktwo
John Maxwell, Simon Fraser Univ.
Justo Hidalgo, 24 Symbols
Kate Pullinger, Bath Spa University
Kathi Fletcher, Shuttleworth Foundation Fellow
Keith Fahlgren, Safari
Mandy Brown, Editorially
Manuel Schmalstieg, MS-Studio
Nathan Kontny, Draft
Nicole Ozer, ACLU NorCal
Peter Armstrong, Leanpub
Peter Collingridge, Safari
Peter Haasz, Overdrive
Richard Nash, Cursor Books
Robert Glushko, School of Information, UC Berkeley
Sameer Verma, SFSU
Steve Woodall, Columbia College Chicago

Hackday: Introduction

Stephen Woodall, Robin Bargar, and Clifton Meador, Radical Publishing Project, Columbia College Chicago

BiB12: Preliminary speakers

We already have some exciting preliminary speakers lined up for BiB in October!
Much can change between here and then, but so far we have:

  • Henrik Berggren, Readmill
  • Baldur Bjarnason
  • Liz Castro, Cookwood Press
  • Matt Cavnar, Vook
  • Peter Collingridge, Enhanced Editions
  • Chris Conley, ACLU Northern California
  • Blaine Cook and Maureen Evans,
  • Liza Daly et al., Safari Books Online
  • Pablo Defendini, Safari Books Online
  • Kevin Franco, Enthrill
  • Tobias Green, Playlab London
  • Masaaki Hagino, Voyager Japan
  • Adam Hyde, Floss Manuals
  • Mary Lou Jepson, Pixel Qi
  • Kassia Krozser, Booksquare
  • Anna Lewis, ValoBox
  • Ron Martinez, Aerbook
  • John Maxwell, Simon Fraser Univ.
  • Hugh McGuire, Pressbooks
  • Bill McCoy, IDPF
  • Matt McInnis, Inkling
  • Craig Mod
  • Brian O’Leary, Magellan Media Partners
  • Kate Pullinger, writer
  • Nancy Ruenzel, Peachpit Press
  • Miral Sattar, BiblioCrunch
  • Bob Stein, SocialBook
  • Stefanie Syman, Atavist
  • Michael Tamblyn, Kobo Books
  • Clive Thompson, Wired
  • Adam Witwer, O’Reilly Media
  • Laura Dawson, Bowker

BiB12 will return to the Internet Archive

Books in Browsers 2012 will return to the Internet Archive!

We will be in the upstairs pews area, not downstairs, for those who are familiar with our facility.

Sponsoring options are now available; please contact me for more information.

We will require registration fees this year for the first time to offset our costs; however, I expect the attendance will be slightly larger. Registration costs will be partially offset for not-for-profits, educational, early-stage startups, and invited independent professionals. As before, special attention will be provided international attendees.

More information will be available soon.

BiB 2012: Topic

Books in Browsers 2012 will focus on authoring platforms, portability of the reading experience, and open ebook standards. Stay tuned for more!

Please hold the Dates: October 25-26, 2012, in San Francisco!