Gary Dunham, Director of IU Press and Digital Publishing
In recent years, Indiana University Press has participated in the IU eTexts program as an in-house partner to help faculty author and publish their works for students. The model has worked very well by enabling a complete lifecycle for content that is particularly tuned to a course. At IU, the Press is part of the Herman B Wells Library and offers a full range of editing and production services for physical and digital books.
The Press develops the eTexts to work on the Unizin Engage platform and integrate directly with Canvas. In some cases, school deans have ventured the capital to fund faculty or lectures to write books that are used for IU courses. Through the eText model, the costs to create those works can be recovered over time while also saving students money over other options.
The Press fully supports offering affordable course materials for students, which is a main goal of the eTexts program. One way to do so is to encourage and professionalize rapid digital textbook development and dissemination on campus.
Pressbooks has become the primary vehicle for Indiana University Press’s emerging campus-based textbook program. Four textbooks have been developed through Pressbooks; each involves a close collaboration with the Kelley School of Business and University Information Technology Services. The Press supplies project management, developmental editing as needed, copyediting, composition and design, and targeted marketing as the textbooks are developed and published.
The Press’s experience with the textbook program so far reveals two factors that are proving crucial for its long-term success:
- Detailed coordination of content development and dissemination schedules between press staff and faculty authors well in advance, as much as two to three years going forward. This is necessary in order to fully anticipate and plan for subsequent editions of existing material as well as new textbooks for courses to be unveiled in future semesters.
- Constant testing of the workflow connecting the faculty author and UITS in order to ensure that it is efficient, refined, and technologically up to date enough to deliver seamlessly and reliably a quality product in an acceptable timeframe.
By working closely to conceptualize, build, and distribute digital course materials through Unizin Engage, faculty and the university’s own press together realize several key goals of the eTexts program: Costs are tightly controlled, no third parties are involved, revenue is reinvested directly back into the university, and publication is faster.