City University of New York, City College
Publishing Certificate Program
Spring 2016

Faculty: Nadxieli Nieto Hall
Office Hours: By appointment
Term: Spring 2016, February 4 through May 19
Class Time: Thursdays, 5:00 p.m. – 7:20 p.m.
Location: Shepherd Hall, Room 19

This course will provide a history of digital books and context for understanding how ebooks have affected literary study, the publishing industry, and reading. Classes and outside reading will give an overview of ebook reading platforms, tools for designing and developing digital content, and platforms for discovering and marketing ebooks. Students will be required to read publishing news and blogs for current examples and analysis of how the digital market is evolving. Teaching ebook production and development skills will be a major focus of this class.
Questions students will be able to answer after taking this class:
• What are ebooks in the broadest sense, and what are ebooks in commercial publishing?
• How have digital books evolved?
• What does the customer see when she reads an ebook? Why does it vary across reading platforms?
• What tools are used to make ebooks?
• What makes a good ebook?
• What are the different selling/purchasing models for ebooks?
• How are ebooks marketed and discovered?
After taking this class, students will be able to:
• Discuss ebooks knowledgeably
• Engage with ebook-related news with historical and trade context
• Make an ebook
Students will have short weekly written assignments, a midterm exam, and a final project. The midterm will cover key concepts discussed in the preceding weeks. For the final project, students will create an ebook consistent with current publishing industry standards using skills developed over the course of the semester.

All materials will be available digitally. I strongly recommend reading them this way so that you can engage with digital texts as you read for class. Read print versions only if you must.

Devices: I encourage you to bring e-reading devices of any kind—including laptops, tablets, and smartphones—to class.

Ebook reading software for Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo: Please download these applications on your mobile devices and computers.

The following books are required:
• Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) —This is the only title not available as an ebook.
• Michael Bhaskar, The Content Machine: Toward a Theory of Publishing from the Printing Press to the Digital Network (Anthem Press, 2013)
• Hugh McGuire and Brian O’Leary, Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto (O’Reilly Media, 2011)
• Liz Castro, Epub Straight to the Point (Peachpit Press, 2010)
• Andrew Albenese, The Battle of $9.99 (Publishers Weekly, 2013)
Essential daily reading:
Publishers Weekly:
Publishers Lunch:
Digital Book World:
Good e-Reader:
A Kindle World blog:
Ink, Bits, & Pixels (formerly The Digital Reader):
New York Times Books:
E-Book Newser:
Publishing Perspectives:

Each week you will have take-home reading and writing assignments. Writing will be graded on content—thoughtfulness, clarity, precision—and writing proficiency. All written assignments must be submitted online by 9am on the Thursday they are due. If you will not be able to post your assignment by then—for a legitimate reason—you must let me know by 7pm Wednesday.

You must read the news every week. Come to class prepared to discuss at least one news piece that examines a topic or event that will impact digital publishing.

The midterm exam will be held on Thursday, March 17. Final projects are due Thursday, May 19.

All students must be signed up for access to Blackboard.

Attend class on time. Three late arrivals equal one absence. You must attend at least 12 of the 14 class sessions to receive a grade of A or B. Notify me as far as possible in advance if you expect to miss class—for a legitimate reason. It is your responsibility to get notes and assignments from a classmate.

Good participation means coming to class on time, having studied the material assigned for the day, being prepared to contribute your views on the assigned material, showing a positive attitude, collaborating appropriately, and showing respect to your classmates and to me. Disruptive behavior, including private conversations during class lectures or discussions will reduce your participation grade. Should there be any factor that hinders your ability to participate, please speak with me, and we will work together to resolve the situation.

20% Assignments and class quizzes
15% Class and group participation
25% Midterm
40% Final Project



March 17: Midterm
May 12: Make Your Own Ebook Clinic
May 19: Presentation of Final Projects