Hugh McGuire is the founder and CEO of Pressbooks. I recently learned about Pressbooks this year as a potential way to develop open educational resources. Essentially, Pressbooks is a book formatting software. You can use it to format print books, or any kind of multi-media books such as eTextbooks, web books, or books for mobile devices such as Kindle. This venture is essentially a service that helps with planning and designing customized content. There are a number of different ways that one can register with Pressbooks, and it seems that their customers are by and large institutions in higher education, though they also have plans available for “self-publishers”. By subscribing to Pressbooks, you get the full-service package. You get the software to design the books (for whatever format you need), you get storage, access to a shared server and a community of practice. For additional fees, you can also get the integration of Pressbooks into various learning management systems. I learned about Pressbooks through leaders at my LMS who had recently learned about Pressbooks through eCampus Ontario (similar to BC Campus Open Ed). My institution has a subscription to Pressbooks and I plan on trying to build some OER material this summer.
The information about Hugh McGuire on the Pressbooks website is relatively sparse. It states that he has been “building web tools and communities that bring books onto the web for a decade”. He lives and works in Montreal and is also involved in a number of other ventures including LibriVox.org (free audiobooks), the Rebus Foundation (open publishing) and iambik (audiobooks and interactive textbooks). He has also authored a book- he is quite busy! I looked him up on LinkedIn and his profile states that he has a BEng and BA in Philosophy from Queen’s University and speaks both English and French. His work has been widely published in different media outlets (such as CBC radio, BBC, etc) and he is most interested in the intersection between books and the internet.
There are a few things that I find interesting about Hugh’s biography. The first is that his educational background is in engineering and philosophy. I suppose that I thought that with such an interest in books and publishing he would have a degree in literature and or in media studies. However, many of the other members of his company have a diverse set of skills related to design. What I find most interesting about Hugh is that his passion for open text is very obvious through his various companies and interests. He clearly has a lot of “skin in the game” for all of his ventures and they certainly overlap. His team seems diverse and passionate as well. For example, his two developers have degrees in Fine Art; his sales and marketing associate (Elizabeth Mays) used to be in higher education but now promotes Pressbooks because “she loves it”. Many of Hugh’s team members are also relatively recent grads with diverse interests outside of the company as well. I think he has overall crafted a well-rounded group to help support his vision and passion.