Contemporary Publishing (Issues in Information Resources) ONLINE SECTION 011

SIRLS 588: Contemporary Book Publishing

This class is offered in two sections: one online and one face-to-face.   THIS IS THE FULL SYLLABUS FOR BOTH ONLINE AND FACE-TO-FACE SECTIONS. Be sure you register in the section you want.

The ONLINE SECTION is 588-011.


The two differences in the two sections are the way you attend lectures and the way discussion is conducted.

Students in the UA Campus-based section, 588-001, will attend lectures on Monday, from 3:30-6, in a UA classroom to be announced. They are expected to contribute actively (at least 5 or more substantive contributions each week)'

Online students may either attend the Monday sessions VIRTUALLY, through Elluminate, or view the recorded Elluminate lecture sometime during the week at their convenience. However they view the lecture, they must also answer five of the student questions each week in the D2L forum. They must also read ALL the replys to the questions, so that they experience the material they would if they were in a classroom.

PLEASE NOTE: Students enrolling in the campus-based session MUST attend classes on Monday. Regular attendance is necessary to pass the class. You cannot substitute viewing the lecture for attending face-to-face.

ABOUT 588, Both sections

 In this class, you will learn about how mainstream publishing works today. This is the story behind the books that are published and become the stock of  libraries. You will see how and why this has changed over the last fifty years and what trade publishing really produces now. You will learn about the pressures on trade publishing and why things are bound to change in the future. You will learn about independent publishing and why these publishers are good sources of acquisitions for libraries. You will also learn about self-publishing and how it is disrupting mainstream publishing. And at the end of the class, we will spend 2 weeks on an introduction to the ebook revolution.

The class will focus on trade publishing, although there will be the opportunity for students to learn about other segments of publishing, such as academic publishing, K-12 publishing, publishing for higher education, publishing for the professions, art publishing, and so forth, through class assignments.

Who Should Take This Class: This class will be important for anyone who expects to work with mainstream published books from now, into the future.

In my humble opinion, [:-) it is essential for anyone working in a public library who cares about collection development and the ability to meet their community's needs in the future.

Academic Year: 


Course ID and Name: 

Section Number: 

Course Syllabus

Course Prerequisites: 


Course Description: 

This course will cover contemporary book publishing, both print and electronic. It will concentrate on trade book publishing, but will also discuss academic publishing, textbook publishing, and genre and niche publishing. The Golden Age of Book Publishing in America, from 1900 to 1960, will be reviewed in order to understand the background against which contemporary changes have occurred and are still occurring. Topics will include retail brick and morter stores (independents, chains, superstores and big box stores), agents, and the activities of publishing houses, small medium and large. The publishing process from the author's perspective is intertwined through the semester. After understanding the process and economics for print book publishing, we will cover the rapidly changing world of E-book publishing. Implications of these changes for librarians will be covered throughout.

The publishing world we all have grown up with is changing rapidly. Mainstream print publishers are under huge pressures, which will become clear in the course, and many are wondering whether they can survive, or at least maintain their dominance. Through this course you will understand the pressures and the issues that are causing this upheaval. The role of libraries vis-a-vis the publisher will also be a constant theme.

Anyone who is preparing for a career involving books should find this course extremely useful. 

Course Objective: 

Course Objectives:

This course will add to your knowledge in Compentency 1A

Students in both the online and the face-to-face sections will

  1. Understand the recent history of publishing and the forces that have caused, and are causing, changes in what has been traditional print book publishing
  2. Understand the importance of "awareness" in the consumer marketplace for books. Understand book traditional methods and newer social methods for making consumers aware of what is available.
  3. Understand how the book reaches the customer and the ways in which that is changing.
  4. Understand the dynamics between libraries and publishers and how that is changing
  5. Understand the process of ebooks and the growing impact on the book environment
  6. Be able to reason and plan roles for libraries in the changing book publishing environment.

Required Course Materials: 

John B. Thompson, Merchants of Culture, Polity Press, 2011 REQUIRED

Other readings will be assigned and made available.

Course Requirements: 

There are two sections of this course, an online section and a face-to-face section.

The requirements for both are identical, with the exception of the weekly required lecture/discussion. UA Class-room based students, section 001, will meet on Monday, from 3:30 to 6, in a UA classroom to be anounced

. Online students are invited to join this lecture/discussion virtually, in real time through Eluminate. If online students are unable to participate on the scheduled time on Monday afternoon, then they are required to view the recording of the Eluminate session as close to Monday as possible, and definitely within the week.

Both sections share a D2L site.

  • Readings:  Both sections are required to read the text chapter, the supplemental readings (if any) and view the required websites. Students are expected to have read the readings by the time they attend/view the lectures.
  • Discussion: Discussion is handled differently in face-to-face and online classes. Study questions will be posted in D2L which will be the basis of the lectures. Students are expected to have read the readings by lecture time.
  • .      Face-to-face UA classroom based students, in Section 588-001, must attend every class and participate in the discussion during class. (Note: full participation means at least 5 substantive answers to the study question If you miss a class, you do not get credit for reviewing the recorded lecture, but you should do that anyway for your learning. You must also participate in the online discussion questions forum for the week you missed. (See below)

            Online students, in section 588-011. Online students, whether they listen to the lecture live via Elluminate on Mondays or recorded during the week MUST answer at least 5 of the questions in the discussion forum, and they must read them all. This is  to give you exposure to all the answers as you would have if you were in the face2face class.

  • Terms and concepts: A list of terms will accompany each week. Students are responsible for ensuring that they have a good grasp of the terms and concepts for each week. 
  • Publishing News of the Week:  Each student will be asked to find an interesting news story, or news blog, concerning changes in contemporary publishing each week. Give a full summary, plus interpretation or opinion, of this change, and provide the link in the News Forum

Midterm Exam: There will be a mid-term exam about halfway through the semester that will consist of some multiple choice, some short answer questions, and an essay question. All students will take the midtern in D2L on the honor system, i.e. no help from other people or resources other than what's in your head.

Final Exam: There will be a final exam during the final exam period that will consist of some multiple choice, some short answer questions, and an essay question. All students will take the final exam in D2L on the honor system, i.e. no help from other people or resources other than what's in your head.

Publisher Case Study: Each student will choose a publisher to study in-depth; the publisher case study is due the last day of class.

Course Grading: 

The final grade will be determined as follows:

Contributions to the Discussion Questions: 10%

News of the Week: 15%

Midterm Exam: 25%

Final Exam: 25%

Publisher's Case Study: 25%

Course Policies: 

Course Policies: 

  1. UA Classroom based students must attend the Monday class lectures regularly. Failure to attend the face-to-face class regularly compromises your grade.
  2. Online students must either attend the live lecture via Elluminate on Monday, from 3-30 to 6, or view the recorded lecture within the week. Failure to attend/view lectures. like missing a face2face class, compromises your grade.
  3. Students are expected to average at least 10 - 12 hours work outside of "class time," which in this case is listening to the lecture. This follows the ABOR guideline for undergraduates. Graduate students who wish to work at the A level may find they need to put in more time.
  4. All work must submitted by the due date and time unless previous permission has been granted by the instructor.
  5. Everything submitted in fulfillment of the course requirements must be the student's own intellectual work, with the exception of work properly attributed to others. Severe penalties will be incurred for plaigarism.
  6. All exams must be taken without the use of resources other than the students' own knowledge. Exams are taken on the honor system, and students will be required to state that they are in compliance with the honor system when taking exams in D2L
  7. Incompletes are governed by Graduate College requirements. Incompletes in this class will be given only when all weekly work has been satisfactorily completed and circumstances beyond the control of students prevent them from finishing the end-of-semester work.
  8. Students who require accommodation for disabilities are required to work through the Disability Resource Center.
  9. Student writing is expected to exhibit standard graduate writing style and conform to standard English spelling, grammar and usage. Points will be lost for failure to comply.
  10. I, as instructor, reserve the right to change the syllabus during the course if I feel there is a compelling reason. Students will be consulted.
  11. Students are asked to respect the copyright of original lecture material. Copyrighted material from the Internet is used in this course on the understanding that it is not shared outside of D2L and therefore falls under the instructor's understanding of fair use.
  12. Having fun and learning a lot is expected in this course.


Jana Bradley, Instructor


Office Hours:

Mondays and Wednesdays, 2-3. Elluminate or Telephone, or at other times: by appointment.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences