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Matchmaking Workshop Experimental Book Publishing Pilots

Published onMar 04, 2024
Matchmaking Workshop Experimental Book Publishing Pilots

On the 15th of January 2024, OBF’s Experimental Publishing Group (WP6) organised a matchmaking workshop for the authors, publishers, and platform/software providers that submitted a pilot project proposal to our Open Call for Pilot Projects for Experimental Books. Our call was open to both individuals looking to collaborate on an experimental book pilot project, and to already formed project teams (which can consist of authors, publishers, open source technology and software providers, librarians, and designers). We designed a two-stage application process to enable as large a group of applicants as possible to apply to our call. First, our team checked initial project proposal submissions for eligibility. We then supported eligible applicants without a complete project team to find additional project partners (or to ‘match’ with another project looking for partners). Applicants who assembled a complete project team could then submit their final submission a couple of months later.

Some of the main issues we want to address with our work on experimental book publishing include: 1) the lack of awareness amongst scholars and publishers of the open source tools, platforms and software available to support experimental book publishing; 2) publishers not having the needed socio-technical publishing workflows to support experimental books, or not having the skills or expertise to develop these; and 3) lack of awareness amongst scholars of which publishers do currently support the publication of experimental books or are interested in doing so in the future.

Given the above, we anticipated that many applicants might struggle to bring a complete team together as required by our eligibility criteria. This is why we organised the matchmaking workshop to help establish connections and make introductions with potential project partners. This is especially important, for example, for early career scholars who might find it challenging to approach a publisher.

We invited various publishers (10 presses attended), authors, and experimental publishing tool and software providers to attend our matchmaking workshop. Our selection of participants was based on our requirements for the pilot projects and on the wishes of pilot project applicants. We designed the workshop to bring together teams that could submit final applications to our open call or provide connections that would allow participants to collaborate beyond or in addition to our open call.

The matchmaking workshop offered individual applicants or those still missing (a) press, tool/platform, or author(s) partner(s) to form a complete project team the opportunity to present and share more information about their project with potential project partners. The workshop was open for all the pre-selected pilots and mandatory for those pilots who did not yet have a full team and partners to work with. During the workshop, the selected pilots had the chance to present their proposals shortly. We also provided them with a dedicated break-out room after their presentation to further discuss their project with potential partners directly. We then signposted to invited publisher/tool/author attendees which presentations and breakout rooms might be most interesting for them to attend and visit as part of our matchmaking process. Members of our Experimental Publishing Group supported the projects during the workshop and in the breakout rooms. We also made an online space available before the workshop for the applicants to share more information about their projects with invited attendees.

Around 40 people attended the workshop, and we are happy to report that it resulted in several ‘matches’ as well as the formation of several full project teams which submitted finalised pilot project proposals.


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