The Methods of Chemeketa Press

Chemeketa Press is developing a method for textbook development that rushes books to the classroom while they are still under development. This saves students money as soon as possible, especially since early editions are discounted as “beta” editions. Second, this method works with the end users — students and faculty — to finish the books, making them as effective as possible in serving the needs of a course.

1. Manuscript Development

To keep books affordable, we make sure that they only include the materials for a single class so that students never have to pay for more book than they actually need. The books don’t include instructor materials, sample assignments, or discussion questions. Academic department provide those materials to their faculty electronically.

Teaching faculty know what their textbooks need to do in any given classes, so the first step in manuscript development is outlining the content for the book. This may start with a course outline that defines what the course must cover, but typically faculty have already given so much energy to making commercial textbooks work for them that they know exactly what they need their textbooks to do and can outline directly from their own experience.

In some cases, the Press then works with teaching faculty to collect and revise openly licensed texts. In other cases, the Press funds the development of original manuscripts. In a few cases, faculty have already developed their own manuscripts and license their use to the Press. In rare cases, faculty may choose to directly reprint openly licensed books.

Most teaching faculty do not have training as writers, so the Press works closely with them to make sure that manuscripts are carefully organized and written to be understood by students. The Press provides some training to help faculty improve their writing and editing skills, but most of the support consists of manuscript editing and revision on behalf of faculty, which faculty then review and approve or revise.

As the manuscript nears completion, the teaching faculty also work with the Press to design the book itself.

2. Book Development

The design and creation of the actual printed textbook falls primarily to Press designers, but the work is done with input and review from teaching faculty to ensure that the book will be effective for students.

To keep books affordable, the Press only uses color printing when it has instructional value — not simply for decoration. Careful visual design also helps students to navigate the book more easily.

One of the more time-intensive activities is working with images. Teaching faculty usually have a clear vision for what sort of images will be effective within the text, but it’s a poor use of their time to look for openly licensed versions of those images or make the images themselves. The Press steps in to review and refine these image inventories, and to then build the set of images inventory with openly licensed works, copyrighted work (with paid licenses), and original work. The Press also keeps track of all permissions.

When the manuscripts and images are ready, Press designers then prepare the books for publication. Student interns from Chemeketa’s visual communications program are often involved with the layout work.

3. Testing & Revision

Chemeketa Press makes incremental updates to textbooks after their initial “beta” release. Feedback from faculty and students identifies “bugs” in the content or presentation of a book. Faculty users also find gaps while teaching and ask for new features to be added. The development team of faculty and Press editors update editions as needed. Updates during the school year often consists of PDFs with corrections. Print updates are made at the beginning of each school year.

In addition to voluntary corrections of superficial errors and additions of new features, the Press also uses systematic user feedback, including student surveys, student and faculty focus groups, and internal and external peer review. This type of feedback helps teams to refine the general content and design of the textbooks.

Testing and revision takes up to two years depending on the complexity of the book and the breadth of intended use.

4. Full Release

When a book is free of bugs and has the approval of teaching faculty, it’s released as a full first edition.

Many books are published for use only at Chemeketa. Lab manuals and workbooks, for example, are specific to Chemeketa classes. Reprints of openly licensed PDFs, which are published only as a convenience for students who prefer paper,  are not usually made available outside of the college.

Starting in Fall 2018, our first set of textbooks will be released outside of the college. These are books that have been tested and revised at Chemeketa. Most have also been reviewed by faculty outside the college.

  • The Chemeketa Handbook: Your Guide to College Writing$18 to students
    • This guide to college reading and writing delivers all the same rules and guidelines as all the other handbooks, but this book delivers them with language that actual college students will understand and with many more annotated examples to show students how to follow the rules.
    • 6 x 9 format — 320 pages (BW) — paperback (coil binding only available for large orders)
  • Freedom & Responsibility: Readings for Writings$16 to students
    • This anthology explores the twin themes of individual freedom and community responsibility through a variety of personal, rhetorical, and historical texts. The texts vary in degrees of reading difficulty from easily accessible to Emerson, making the collection useful for developmental writing and composition courses.
    • 5.5 x 8.25 — 300 pages (BW) — paperback
  • Empathy: Readings for Writers$16 to students
    • Like Freedom & Responsibility, this anthology examines its theme through a variety of personal, rhetorical, and historical texts. It challenges students to examine the boundary they set between “them” and “us.” The texts vary in degrees of reading difficulty, making the collection useful for developmental writing and composition courses.
    • 5.5 x 8.25 — 250 pages (BW) — paperback
  • A Brief Introduction to World Regional Geography$38 to students (print), $12 (ebook), or free (online)
    • This thorough revision of an openly licensed textbook provides a broad overview to the regions of the world. Our revision comes with improved images and layout for easier reading. As part of the license agreement, it is released free as an online text. The ebook and print version are available as convenient and affordable options.
    • 8.5 x 11″ — 400 pages (color) — paperback
    • ebook — for Kindle, iBooks, Nook
    • online as an html-based textbook