Archive | The 24-Hour Book


In all my years growing up surrounded by examples, I never once gave thought to precisely how the book was defined. It would have seemed like a silly question, really. It’s only in relatively recent times I have come to the realisation that, to paraphrase a classic  television commercial from my childhood, books ain’t books. By accident of history, we have applied the same word to pop-up illustrations for children, lavish art and architecture hardcovers, compendiums of home cooking recipes, telephone directories, multi-volume encyclopaedias, historically significant works of literature and poetry, and fun and exciting works of entertainment and pop culture. What we call a ‘book’ has always been loosely inclusive. The only common element to these kinds of content is the object through which they’re distributed: paper, ink, thread, glue.

It was a definition of convenience. After all, the magic of a book has never resided in its ink and paper (though they aided greatly in its portability). No one becomes a lifelong reader because of their love of offset printing. Each of the kinds of content listed above fulfilled a different need: some were served well by ink and paper, others perhaps not so much.

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24HB: A Bower Bird Summary

At about 11:30 am on Tuesday 12 June, a group of writers surrounded me at my desk, handed me a glass of sparkling wine and took photos while I desperately copied a group of hyperlinks and emailed them to my colleague at a desk three metres away. Shortly before that, I’d been uploading ebooks to the if:book website and felt a pang of completely unexpected emotion. Uploading files had never felt so weighty before. Within about an hour, a photo would appear via Twitter of a print copy of the same book visiting Times Square and I would end up in a sad approximation of a human pyramid.

It was a strange couple of days.

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Willow Pattern Available To Order

Thanks to everyone who took advantage of the free ebook download of Willow Pattern in the last 24 hours. The downloads came thick and fast and we’ve loved hearing reactions and feedback from around the world.

On that note, if you manage to ferret out some errors in the text that our heroic, but human, editors (bless) missed. Contact us and we’ll make it right. That’s digital publishing for you!

So we’ve now closed the free downloads (sorry if you missed out) and we’re working on getting the book into retails stores both physical and digital. We’ll keep you updated on our progress.

In the meantime, the print edition can be ordered from an increasing number of locations, initially in the United States, but we will keep adding more from around the globe as they come online (we hope to include an Australian location too). Find one close to you and get ordering!

The Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA

Third Place Books in Seattle, WA

Northshire Bookstore in Manchester Center, VT

University Bookstore in Seattle, WA
The link won’t be up until Monday, but in the meantime people can order by emailing or calling 206-633-6611

Brooklyn Public Library

Powell’s Bookstore

Politics & Prose Bookstore in Washington D.C.

And of course, you’re still free to read the complete book online at Pressbooks.



Introducing Willow Pattern, the 24 Hour Book!

UPDATE November 2012: We’re still getting a lot of traffic to this page, which is amazing. What’s not amazing is that we have no link to purchase Willow Pattern from here. You want to see what nine authors, ten editors, and whole lot of support and technology can produce in a mere twenty-four hours? Follow this link.

UPDATE 13/6/12: The free downloads are no longer available. Head over to today’s post for follow up information.

Well, it’s been a crazy race around the clock face for the team here at if:book Australia. Nine writers, ten editors, one designer, a slew of bloggers, volunteers and coffee-bringers, and PressBooks, one amazing digital publishing platform, and somehow we have managed to produce a book. Not just write and edit one, but design and publish it in print and ebook form in 24 hours. A little less than 24 hours actually.

And here it is…

Willow Pattern, written by Nick Earls, Krissy Kneen, Steven Amsterdam, Angela Slatter, Rjurik Davidson, PM Newton, Geoff Lemon and if:book’s own Simon Groth. The book was lovingy shaped (also beaten, bullied and lectured to) by lead editor Keith Stevenson, and an amazingly energetic team of editors from QUT Creative Industries. And given a beautiful set of clothes by designer Benjamin Portas of Kids in Cloaks. Here’s some info about the whole team.

Willow Pattern is available for you to read right now!

Read on the web

Read the e-book

Download EPUB

Download Kindle edition

These formats are available for download for FREE for 24 hours from this website, before it is distributed commercially to Amazon and other retailers.

Read the print book

The picture above comes courtesy of Queensland author Robert Hoge who was present to collect the very first print copy from the Espresso Book Machine at the Brooklyn Public Library in New York! Rob and our partners at On Demand Books snuck into the library out of hours to  help us bring this book into the world with fifteen minutes still to spare on the 24 hour deadline.

You will be able to purchase your own print copy from various Espresso Book Machines around the world, including Australia. We’ll be updating this purchase page with new print outlets as they become available. For right now, you can order a print copy by emailing the Brooklyn Public Library EBM ( or indie bookseller Powell’s ( The print edition is available for USD $12.95

We did it! Huzzah!




24-Hour Book Round Up

Well, we’re at the pointy end of the 24-Hour Book as you can see by the zero that now graces the beginning of our countdown timer.

if:book Manager Simon Groth was interviewed by both the 4ZzZ Book Show and on ABC Brisbane Afternoons on the ins and outs of the project.

Also, in talking about the project, we’ve been reminded too of this classic Monty Python sketch. The 24-Hour Book won’t be like this, but we really wish it could.

In fact, we suspect it will be a little more like this.



24-Hour Book printed in minutes

What might you expect would help make the 24-Hour Book? Writing utensils and a computer are the obvious first choices. Some would say a cup of coffee or a glass of wine would be next.

However, one piece of technology vital to producing the 24-Hour Book will be Espresso Book Machine. The first copy will be freshly bound at the Brooklyn Public Library and available on the EspressNet digital catalogue soon after the final word is typed. This promises a worldwide readership for the 24-Hour Book.

The Xerox machine takes a computer file and adds paper and glue to churn out a book within minutes, offering readers a wide selection of books almost instantaneously. Libraries and bricks-and-mortar bookstores worldwide are taking advantage of the technology and keeping hard-copy books alive.

Harper Collins, Hachette and Macmillan are some of the top publishers who have released their books on EspressNet, but the technology also presents another option for new authors to self-publish.

The machine can be found humming away in the Harvard Book Store, New York University’s Library in Abu Dhabi and even The University of Melbourne’s Custom Book Centre.

The Espresso Book Machine makes a tasty book and we’re pleased for the 24-Hour Book to be the beans.


Why a 24-Hour Book?

We’ve heard this question a few times and we’re likely to hear it more in the coming weeks so let’s address some of the reasoning behind the 24-Hour Book and what the hell we expect to achieve.

There have been a couple of 24-Hour Books. The first was in 2009 and the most recent was this year, both organised from the UK and involving if:book London. Each project is different in its focus and end product, but the common thread between them is the use of the timeframe to demonstrate the capabilities and explore the possibilities of working in a digital environment. In every case, we’re hoping to produce something unique to its process, something that couldn’t be reproduced in a more traditional environment. Continue Reading →


The 24-Hour Book

24 hours.

9 writers.

1 book.

On 11 June 2012, if:book Australia will challenge a team of writers and editors to collaborate, write, and publish a book in a single 24-hour period.

At midday, nine writers (including Nick Earls, Steven Amsterdam, Krissy Kneen, and P.M. Newton) will gather at the State Library of Queensland and begin writing furiously. Their stories will be written live on the day, with work in progress posted online to allow readers to watch the story unfold and to submit ideas, suggestions and contributions across media. As the stories are completed, a team of bleary-eyed editors will take the text from manuscript to a book.

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This is the future of the book, but not the one you were expecting.