Comma Press has launched MacGuffin, a new self-publishing platform for fiction, essays and poetry. The Manchester-based imprint – who specialise in short fiction – described MacGuffin as the “world’s first taggable and searchable jukebox for literature,” and are aiming it towards commuters.
Whether your journey is 15 minutes by bus, or 40 minutes by train, MacGuffin hopes to help users find stories and poetry to match their travel time and your literary tastes. All stories and poems on MacGuffin will be available as both text and audio, allowing you to use it to read on your smartphone while travelling or listen while you’re on the go.
Developed over a ten-month period by Comma Press's digital editor Jim Hinks in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University's Dr Darren Dancey, a researcher in computational intelligence, MacGuffin was financed by a £125,000 research grant from the Digital R&D Fund for the Arts, which promotes digital innovation in the arts. Also involved in the creation of the platform were UX design company fffunction.co, who developed the app’s interface.
MacGuffin takes the form of a website and an app for iOS and Android. The website (macguffin.io) went live on 30 June and is free to use for readers and writers. Authors upload their text and an mp3 reading; users can toggle between the two. The project follows Comma Press' previous project Gimbal (later renamed LitNav) which plotted pieces of short fiction on a map to build an interactive narrative within cities.
As well as self-published writing, much of MacGuffin’s content with be from mainstream UK and US publishers, along with stories by award-winning Comma Press short story writers including David Constantine, Adam Marek, Hassan Blasim, Jane Rogers, Sema Kaygusuz and Julian Gough. Using Twitter-style hashtags, users can tag anyone else's work to describe the content, contribute to a meme or add it to a reading list.
“Publishers have always sought new ways to connect readers and writers, and that’s what MacGuffin’s all about,” said Comma Presses’ Jim Hinks. “If you're a writer, your voice can be heard (literally) by people all over the world. If you’re a reader, it’s a fun way to discover and share new writing.”