What is a Book Sprint?

A Book Sprint brings together a group to produce a book in 3-5 days. There is no pre-production and the group is guided by a facilitator from zero to published book. The books produced are high quality content and are made available immediately at the end of the sprint via print-on-demand services and e-book formats.

New York, USA

Kayanza, Burundi

Rotterdam, Netherlands.

Mata Pequena, Portugal

Bogota, Columbia

Debre Zeit, Ethiopia

Berlin, Germany

Straford-upon-Avon, UK

Silicon Valley, USA

Linz, Austria

Edinburgh, Scotland

Austin, USA.

Vancouver, Canada

Cairo, Egypt

Harehare, Zimbabwe

Washington, USA

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Google, USA

Groups typically have 4 to 16 participants. The topic is chosen by the hosting organisation. After the topic is defined the hosting organisation discusses strategies with the facilitator for deciding who to invite to participate, the duration of the event, additional support needs, shaping expectations, logistics etc. Preparations are then made for confirming a venue, dates,  travel, and accommodation etc.

Once everyone is gathered at the Book Sprint venue the facilitator governs the process, manages the group dynamics, mediates controversy, and imposes the unalterable deadline. While the facilitator is a member of the group, the facilitator never takes part in actual writing. Therefore he or she does not contribute to the content of the book. The facilitator enables an environment in which the group can collaborate creatively and purposefully. The aim is to make sure that every participant shares their ideas and takes part in the outcome of the book, enabling participants to be engaged and to read and write together. Using a light-touch approach to increase motivation, with care toward different learning styles, the facilitator may also have to carefully manage potential and real conflict.

Book Sprints make use of a set of key patterns: Concepting, Structuring, Writing, Revising, and Publishing. These patterns are not necessarily sequential phases but some of the patterns have dependencies: revising will require some written text to work with, and publishing depends on having a revised version of the book. Certain patterns may be more important to a particular Book Sprint, depending on the space and on the development of a particular process.

So what does a Book Sprint do well? A useful way of thinking about what kind of material can be best addressed by a Book Sprint is to consider two modes of knowledge production that the Book Sprint operates in. The first, the extractive Book Sprint, is generally employed to document and describe known objects, processes, or work practices. Technical manuals represent an exemplar for the descriptive process that takes place in this mode. The second is the generative Book Sprint, which is used to create new concepts, enable critical reflection on practice, produce new ideas, practices, and meanings. In reality both of these modes may be woven together, as they operate on a continuum. But it is generally useful to have in mind the kind of activity that a particular Book Sprint will be geared toward.

Some of the things Book Sprints do well include:

  • Opening a space for critical reflection on practice.
  • Eliciting knowledge from subject-matter experts, e.g., legacy or new technologies, text books, NGO reports, etc.
  • Creating responses to fast-moving topics.
  • Facilitating new networks and vocabularies between individuals and organizations.

BookSprints.net is a group of expert facilitators – we focus only on Book Sprint facilitation. BookSprints.net is also where the Book Sprint methodology all started.

For more information email Adam at adam@booksprints.net