Futurebook Hack

UCL, London,
Prize: £5000

FutureBook hack invited developers, designers and entrepreneurs to come together for a weekend of brainstorming and problem solving in a previously untapped sector: book publishing.

Why a Futurebook Hack?

In May 2013 The Perseus Book Group put together the first ever Publishing hackathon, working with Librify, William Morris Endeavour, The Alley NYC and Book Expo America. Hackathons have been used as brainstorming platforms in the UK to find solutions to challenges facing the media, music, health and even emergency sectors but never has something like this been undertaken in the publishing sector. The goal of this project is to build on the work of Perseus and their partners in the US, to bring fresh eyes to an established industry, to tackle the challenges facing book publishing, to adapt to a changing landscape and to help readers discover the perfect book.

Who Attended?

  • * Developers
  • * Designers
  • * UX Designers
  • * Entrepreneurs
  • * Engineers
  • * Coders
  • * Programmers
  • * Marketers
  • * People who like to think differently
The FutureBook Hack is a great initiative and HarperCollins is delighted to be involved. The aims of the event fit very closely with what we’re doing at HarperCollins; using digital to create exciting products, rethink models, deliver more books into more hands and drive the transformation of our industry. We are excited by the possible outcomes of the Hack, plus it’ll be great fun.

Nick Perrett

Group Director of Strategy and Digital, Harper Collins
  • Catherine Allen

    *Catherine Allen

    Senior Manager at Touchpress

    Catherine manages new projects at Touch Press. She began her career running an e-learning video production company while studying Theatre Studies at The University of Warwick. Once she graduated, she co-founded what was to become one of Birmingham's largest online video production companies, Ember Television. While filming a documentary about the financial downturn in the States, she spent some time in San Francisco and became increasingly interested and involved in the emerging tech scene; especially where there's an intersection between creativity and technology. On her return to the UK, Catherine discovered Touch Press, finding the company to be the perfect example of a team who combine both creative and technical rigour. After a year of being a huge fan, she joined the team. Catherine’s highlights at Touch Press so far include leading the marketing of Disney Animated and launching the app in LA (awarded Apple's best iPad app of 2013), building Touch Press' marketing team and working on developing lots of new, exciting partnerships for the company.

  • Andre Breedt

    *Andre Breedt

    Head of Nielsen Book Research UK, Client Services

    Andre Breedt was recently appointed to the role of Head of Nielsen Book Research and is responsible for the relationship with publishers and retailers in the UK. Since joining Nielsen BookScan he has worked on projects ranging from analysing the Chinese book market, library borrowings, the digital market and the launch of Nielsen BookScan Brazil.

  • Matthew Cashmore

    *Matthew Cashmore

    Digital Director at Blackwell’s

    At Blackwell’s, Matthew focuses on find and executing new opportunities, guiding a digital step-change for Blackwell’s future. Having previously held roles at Lonely Planer, BBC and Hachette UK, Matthew has led various digital and research projects which have enabled innovation to become part of everyday processes. He regularly speaks at conferences about digital R&D and social marketing.

  • Joe Cohen

    *Joe Cohen

    CEO of Movellas

    Joe Cohen is the CEO of Movellas. He is an entrepreneur and angel investor who has led innovative, global consumer businesses in the entertainment and leisure sectors. Joe was the founder of Seatwave and COO at Match.com and Ticketmaster. He has also been an investor, board member and advisor for Sofar Sounds, Hailo, HypeApp, Nitrogram and several other early-stage tech businesses. Joe frequently provides commentary and perspective to the media on global consumer issues and the wider tech industry, with recent appearances including the BBC, CNN, CNBC, Telegraph.co.uk, Financial Times, City AM and many others. Joe has also been a judge at the Telegraph Start-up 100, a mentor at Seedcamp Week and the founder of Devcamp.

  • Joanna Ellis

    *Joanna Ellis

    COO at The Literary Platform

    Joanna Ellis is COO at The Literary Platform, an online magazine and consultancy that works with publishers, developers, literary organisations and academic institutions on a wide range of digital publishing projects. The Literary Platform also runs two programmes for writers: the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and The Writing Platform.

  • Hattie Foster

    *Hattie Foster

    Digital Project Manager, Penguin Random House

  • Hannah Griffiths

    *Hannah Griffiths

    Publishing Director at Faber

  • Nathan Hull

    *Nathan Hull

    Digital Product Development Director, Penguin Random House

    As Digital Product Development Director, Nathan has strategic responsibility for Penguin Random House’s blossoming digital portfolio and focuses on product innovation. He seeks out and brokers partnerships to bring the best of current and future technologies and implements product development across all digital channels and in multiple markets.

  • Helen Jeffery

    *Helen Jeffery

    Associate Publisher at London Review of Books

    A great believer in the potential of creative collaboration and data, Helen is Associate Publisher at the London Review of Books, Europe’s foremost literary publication. The LRB's long-form essays, reviews and poetry are published online, and available via the website alongside its 35-year digitised archive. The LRB has experimented with digital-only projects, including 'Kafka's Wound', a digital essay by Will Self that integrates multimedia creative, documentary and archive content for web and mobile. This project demonstrated the benefits that can be gained from working ‘outside the box’ and being innovative, rapid, and radically pragmatic.

  • Philip Jones

    *Philip Jones

    Editor, The Bookseller

    Jones joined The Bookseller in 1996 as a financial news reporter. He left briefly in 1999 to travel and freelance, returning in 2001 to lead the development of thebookseller.com. He was promoted to editor in 2012.

  • Rick Joyce

    *Rick Joyce

    Chief Marketing Officer for the Perseus Books Group

    Rick Joyce is the Chief Marketing Officer for the Perseus Books Group, and has been involved since 2004 in the growth and digital strategies for the company. Rick is one of the co-creators of Constellation, the one-stop digital solution for over 400 independent publishers, and serves on its Leadership Team. He was the force behind the BEA 2009 experiment known as Book:The Sequel crashing a book in all formats from the show floor, the pioneering NY Times Bestseller and transmedia sensation Cathy’s Book: If Found, Call 650-266-8233, and the first-ever book publishing hackathon hosted in New York in May 2013. He is a frequent speaker at industry events like BEA, Digital Book World, The Digital Minds Conference, the Yale Publishing Course, Publishers Launch, and the London and Frankfurt book fairs. Prior to Perseus, Rick was a strategy partner at Accenture, working in publishing, music, magazines and newspapers for clients like Simon & Schuster, Viacom, Harper Collins, Houghton Mifflin, Tribune Corp, the AAP, Primedia, and Disney. Rick was VP of Strategy and Marketing at ASCAP, and a consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton in their Media practice. Rick has a B.A. from Dartmouth College, and MBA from Columbia Business School and an MFA from the New School.

  • Sara Lloyd

    *Sara Lloyd

    Digital and Communications Director, Pan Macmillan

    Sara Lloyd is Digital and Communications Director for Pan Macmillan, managing the company's digital, marketing and publicity departments. She manages Pan's digital publishing programme and leads its online strategy including development of Pan's Web platform and infrastructure. She takes a leadership role in the organisational, cultural and operational change to enable Pan Macmillan to position itself for the future.

  • Eleanor Long

    *Eleanor Long

    Head of Commerical Finance, Simon & Schuster

  • Mark Ollard

    *Mark Ollard

    Finance Director, Simon and Schuster
  • Stephen Page

    *Stephen Page

    CEO, Faber & Faber
  • Nick Perrett

    *Nick Perrett

    Group Director of Strategy and Digital, Harper Collins

    Nick Perrett, Group Director of Strategy and Digital, Harper Collins, @MrPerrett Nick is Group Director, Strategy and Digital at HarperCollins, where he is responsible for strategy, M&A, business development and digital product. Nick previously spent a decade in video games, most recently as EVP & CEO North American Studios at Jagex. He trained in venture capital and management consultancy and is a graduate of Bristol University and Harvard Business School.

  • Jon Rogers

    *Jon Rogers

    Professor of Creative Technology at The University of Dundee

    Professor Jon Rogers holds a personal chair in creative technology at the University of Dundee. He balances playful technologies with citizenship to find new ways to connect people to each other and to their data. He is passionate about the potential of an open physical web of things and his work includes collaborations with Mozilla, NASA, BBC R&D and the Met Office.

  • Melinda Seckington

    *Melinda Seckington

    Developer at FutureLearn

    Melinda Seckington is a developer at FutureLearn, a social learning platform, backed by the Open University, offering free courses from a wide range of university partners, and cultural institutions like the British Council, British Library and British Museum. She loves attending and hacking at Hackdays, BarCamps and other tech meet ups, and since 2009 has been organising them at Geeks of London, including HACKED at the O2 last year. She also runs MissGeeky.com, a blog about all things geeky and girly.

  • Gus Swan

    *Gus Swan

    Digital Technology Director at HarperCollins

  • Simon Trewin

    *Simon Trewin

    Partner and Head of Literary at William Morris Endeavor Entertainment
  • Henry Volans

    *Henry Volans

    Head of Digital Publishing, Faber & Faber
  • Tom Weightman

    *Tom Weightman

    Senior Software Engineer at Touchpress

    Tom has a background in software development as well as photography. He developed websites for several years, before studying Software Engineering at Durham University, where he specialised in mobile apps. Since joining Touch Press in 2012, he has contributed to the development of The Orchestra and Disney Animated, and was lead engineer for Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, The Liszt Sonata and Journeys of Invention. This has involved developing key features such as layered clips in Disney Animated, performance switching in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and the network interface in Journeys of Invention. Tom is also a member of two photography agencies, and has had images published worldwide in books and magazines.

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Event Highlights

See the full story of the event as it happened.


Photos from the event.

Hack Photos

Prize-giving Photos

Watch the Video.


*Challenge 1 - Best use of data

A simple category. Take any data from any organisation ; XML, ONIX etc and demonstrate an innovative use of that data - the great thing about this category is that it can be combined with any of the others. It’s the easiest category to enter, but the most difficult to win.

My Book is Bigger than Yours


Publishing is all about the written word. Isn’t it? Well no - publishers are amongst the biggest audio creators in the creative sector - everything from spoken word books to full dramatisation of epic fantasy to children’s stories. What happens when we play with this creative content and use it in a way that was never intended? What happens when it’s combined with visual media? Blow us away with your ideas.


*Challenge 3 - Automated content curation: ie what is better than 'other customers bought this'

Content creation aids discoverability but there has to be something more fun than ‘other people liked this’. Inspire us with content curation.

Book Monster


What shall I read next? Where can I find the book everyone is talking about? I liked that ad on the Tube but what’s the book called? I want to read that book by that author who was on telly yesterday… but what’s it called? All these questions are easy when you’re stood in front of an expert bookseller, but what happens when google doesn’t have the answer?


*Challenge 5 - Best digital re-imagining of print assets - children’s

The most fun you can possibly have at a Hack Day - messing around with ‘children’s’ content… make us laugh, make us cry but take these amazing assets from the publishers and play with them until they speak to a new audience.

Black Book

Two of the things I say and hear a lot in publishing is that we need more time and space to think and that we need more input and perspective from outside the industry. I’m expecting the FutureBook hack weekend to deliver both of those things and hopefully a lot more. Simon & Schuster is thirsty for ideas, I think we’re the right size to be able to react quickly to impetus. Small enough to be nimble, big enough to scale up when we decide to

Mark Ollard

Finance Director, Simon and Schuster

What you need to know



Robert's Building,
University College London
Torrington Place,
London, WC1E 7JE

Please click here for directions.



  • 10.00 AM Registration
  • 10.30 AM Keynotes and pitches from publishing partners
  • 12.30 PM Lunch
  • 13.30 PM Publisher workshops
  • 18.00 PM Drinks Reception courtesy of Virtusales
  • 19.00 PM Dinner
  • 12.00 AM Midnight feast


  • 08.00 AM Breakfast
  • 13.00 PM Submission deadline
  • 14.00 PM Hack Demos / pitches and judging
  • 15.30 PM Category winners announced


  • 18.00 PM Drinks kick off

Founding Publishing Partners

Harper Collins
Pan Macmillan
Penguin Random House
Simon and Schuster
Faber & Faber

Organising Partners

The Perseus Book Group
Midas Public Relations
UCL Department
Touch Press
London Technology Week
UCL and the Department of Information Studies are proud to support this Futurebook event, which will provide a crucible for innovation and creative enterprise in publishing. The opportunities it offers for collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas, and its inclusive approach to participation, promise a lively weekend of high energy and serious fun!

Dr Samantha J. Rayner

Director of the Centre for Publishing,Department of Information Studies, University College London


  1. Hackers retain the rights to any original work they create.
  2. Hacks/proofs of concept must be submitted via google forms at the specified time on Sunday 15th of June to be eligible to win.
  3. Entries must be projects begun during the hackathon however hackers can brainstorm, make plans and create wireframes in advance of the event.
  4. Teams can be anywhere from one to a maximum of five people.
  5. Participants must be over 18.
  6. Anyone caught cheating or knowingly replicating the work of others will be disqualified.

Please note that these rules are initial guidelines and more specific rules will be detailed in the lead up to the event.


Hack this book

Last November at The Bookseller’s FutureBook conference in London, agent Simon Trewin posed a challenge to the publishing industry- to come together and organize a publishing hackathon similar to one that had been held in the States the previous May.

FutureBook has always been about embracing emerging technologies, moving the industry forward and seeking out, predicting and rising to the next forms of disruption. As such The Bookseller’s FutureBook team set about bringing the major players in publishing on board and making this event happen.

FutureBook hack was a collaboration between The Bookseller and University College London with support from agent Simon Trewin - a partner at the global entertainment group WME (William Morris Endeavor) and inspired by the event The Perseus Books Group, WME, Librify, The AlleyNYC and BookExpoAmerica ran in NYC in 2013.