Project goals

  1. Produce ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books that embrace the latest accessibility and technology standards in their respective fields.

  2. Produce ebooks and Braille books aimed at the sensibilities of modern readers that rival their commercially-available counterparts in typography and formatting.

  3. Produce ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books with strict code formatting standards and patterns, so that they can be used as a base for other projects.

  4. Produce ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books with rich semantic data and predictable structure that can be easily machine-processed.

  5. Increase the availability of accessible books across both the commercial and public domain sectors.

  6. Enrich and evangelize the worldwide public domain.

  7. Preserve books in the Canadian public domain in such a way that they can be enjoyed by modern readers.

The short blurb

The Camp Bowen Books project is a volunteer driven, not-for-profit effort to produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, and accessible ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books that meet or exceed the quality of their commercially produced counterparts. For books in the Canadian public domain ,we take this one step further and make our books available open source and free of charge. The text and cover art in our public domain books is already believed to be in the public domain, and, for these books, Camp Bowen Books dedicates its own work to the public domain, thus releasing whole book source files themselves into the public domain.

How is Camp Bowen Books public domain effort different from Project Gutenberg’s or other free ebook sites?

While there are plenty of places where you can download free and accurately-transcribed public domain ebooks, we feel the quality of those ebooks can often be greatly improved.

For example, Project Gutenberg, a major producer of public-domain ebooks, hosts epub and Kindle files that sometimes lack basic typographic necessities like curly quotes; some of those ebooks are automatically generated and can’t take full advantage of modern ereader technology like popup footnotes or popup tables of contents; they sometimes lack niceties like cover images and title pages; and the quality of individual ebook productions varies greatly.

Archival sites like the Internet Archive (and even Project Gutenberg, to some extent) painstakingly preserve entire texts word-for-word, including original typos and ephemera that are of limited interest to modern readers: everything including centuries-old publishing marks, advertisements for long-vanished publishers, author bios, deeply archaic spellings, and so on. Sometimes all you get is a scan of the actual book pages. That’s great for researchers, archivists, and special-interest readers, but not that great for casual, modern readers.

The Camp Bowen Books project differs from those etext projects in that we aim to make free public domain ebooks that are carefully typeset, cleaned of ancient and irrelevant ephemera, take full advantage of modern ereading technology, are formatted according to a detailed style guide, and that are each held to a standard of quality and internal consistency. Public domain books produced by Camp Bowen Books include carefully chosen cover art based on public domain artwork, and are presented in an attractive way on your ebookshelf. For technically-inclined readers, public domain books produced by Camp Bowen Books conform to a rigorous coding style, are completely open source, and are hosted on Github, so anyone can contribute corrections or improvements easily and directly without having to deal with baroque forums or opaque processes.

What makes a Camp Bowen Book’s book different?

  • Design: Consistent and clean cover art designs that make your ebook, audiobook, or Braille book look good on the shelf, and attention to layout like section breaks, indentation, and chapter headings.

  • Typography: Details like curly quotes, ellipses, en-, em-, and double-em-dashes, indentation, hyphenation, and more make for the smooth reading experience you’d expect from a printed book.

  • Ebook and audiobook best practices: Tables of contents and chapter breaks your ereader can understand, detailed and consistent metadata, popup footnotes, and more. Minimal markup and styling that lets your ereader’s personality shine—but consistency, so all of our ebooks look familiar.

  • Braille book best practices: Tables of contents and clean chapter breaks, detailed and consistent metadata, smartly structured footnotes, and more. A consistent and minimal style, so all of our Braille books look familiar.

  • Programming best practices: The stuff you can’t see, but that makes for a professional product: semantic markup, minimal and elegant code, smooth build processes, and source control.

Camp Bowen Books and the public domain

All of the ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books we release into the public domain are texts that are thought to be in the public domain in Canada. We base our cover art designs for these books on art that is also thought to be in the public domain in Canada.

Camp Bowen Books puts significant work into designing, formatting, marking up, and hosting our public domain ebooks, audiobooks, and Braille books. While some think we could, or even should, release our work with some kind of copyright notice, instead Camp Bowen Books dedicates the entirety of each of our public domain ebook, audiobook, and Braille book files, including markup, cover art, and everything in between, to the public domain.

The public domain is a priceless resource for all of us, and for the generations after us. It’s a free repository of our culture going back centuries—a way for us to see where we came from and to chart where we’re going. It represents our collective cultural heritage.

Get Involved!

Like with most things we do at Camp Bowen, volunteers are central. If you would like to volunteer to become a book producer, audio narrator, proofreader, or have another idea on how you can help, please get in touch via the contact page.