Book Publishing Operations: Pro Bono Projects

4 May

Much in the same vein as my previous post about the intent and purpose of our e-journal Best Practices, I wanted to talk about some of the pro bono—that is, free—work we do each semester.

While TSTC Publishing’s primary mission is to produce quality general-use and custom textbooks at reasonable prices for students—our most expensive textbook is $64.95 with the least expensive being just over $10—we’ve also been charged with becoming financially self-sustaining as soon as possible. To that end, I suppose, we could get tunnel vision to the degree that all we did were textbooks all day, all the time. On the other hand, as I’ve talked about before, working at a college means, in my mind, that you use your resources to give back to the college/local community as circumstances allow.

Each semester we try to do at least one or two pro bono projects based on the rest of our production schedule. Last summer we did the catalog for the Waco Cultural Arts Fest and periodically we do graphics work for other departments on campus. (For example, a while back we did a cool series of recruiting posters for the Heart-of-Texas Tech Prep folks.) This is all work we farm out to our interns as much as possible because it is what I’d refer to as piece work: a flyer, poster, brochure, something like that. Interns are well suited to do smaller stand-alone projects like this and they make for good portfolio pieces as well. Finally, many of these projects are a nice break from the day-to-day work we do—page layout and technical graphics—and as my dad always said, everyone needs a job they find interesting every day.

This year, for the second year in a row, we did the poster (and tickets) for the Waco Junior Chamber of Commerce Music Fest and Chili Throwdown. Now, when I say “we” that is the same as the “royal” we that gets used a lot. In reality, and more specifically, it means that our work study student worker Grant Jurries did most of the work. Grant has been an intern since last fall and this spring interned while also being a work study which means that he was in the office about 25 hours a week. This is a real luxury for us because with him here so much he has the time to work on more complex projects in addition to being available to pick up work at a moment’s notice. (If you click on the thumbnail below you can see the poster he put together in the space of just a few days.) I really like the background that he came up with which is a combination of two photos: one of the weathered boards with a sunset on top of it. Put together, the effect is quite nice.


For anyone who is in Waco, Texas, on May 12 I would heartily recommend attending this event. It benefits Waco Habitat for Humanity as well as the Waco Junior Chamber Scholarship Fund. Chili, barbecue, good music, beautiful locale (Cameron Park East on the Brazos River), helping good causes . . . what more could you ask for?


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