It’s been 10-11 days since any of us here last posted due that fact that we’ve been in the throes of finishing up books, having books printed, and shipping books out to their various bookstore destinations before classes started. This time two years ago our fall semester books orders consisted of 35 copies of Basic Electronic Troubleshooting for Biomedical Technicians for a grand total of about $1,200; this year we have almost thirty titles in print with fall books sales around $50-$60K. It’s certainly better to have more work and orders rather than fewer, but I’m looking forward to the day when we can effectively package some of our books as offset press print jobs where we’re printing 2,000-5,000 copies at a time instead of having to go through the print on demand cycle three times a year (that is, once for each semester). Once upon a time, printing books by the semester for us was not that big a deal without that many titles in print—it allowed us to keep our inventory low and update books on the fly from semester to semester—but now, the printing process is becoming exponentially more complicated—more titles with more particular unique production elements—every semester as we add new 4-5 titles into the mix.
So, we delivered the last of our new math books that made up the TSTC Waco bookstore order at about eleven yesterday morning—this was after spending all day Saturday driving out to TSTC West Texas’ Sweetwater bookstore (and back) to deliver a carload of nursing books—and had a great sense of satisfaction and relief for about four hours until we—Todd, Grace, and I—had a production meeting at three o’clock to line out the fall production schedule and get started on it.
This semester we have five books in the production process—that is under Grace’s purview as our graphics specialist—that will go to print no later than December to be ready for the spring semester:
- 1. Machining Technology Projects Manual (TSTC Harlingen)
- 2. Two more nursing books (TSTC West Texas)
- 3. The Ethics Reader (TSTC West Texas)
- 4. The hand tools book (TSTC Waco)
In addition, another thing we’re doing now that Todd has survived his trial by fire by making it through his first production cycle this summer is to have him work more on the editorial development end so that manuscripts are in better shape—and requiring less work on his end—by the time Grace gets them. Although Grace can put together 4-5 books a semester in and amongst all the other things she does—managing her interns, coordinating print jobs, meeting with authors for graphics meetings, and so on—Todd will actually have more development projects to manage. That’s because he’ll have 3-4 each semester that he’ll be getting ready to move into the subsequent semester’s production schedule while keeping an eye on another 4-6 that are in the preliminary stages of being written/produced.
To that end, the projects he’s working on that will be handed off to Grace in the spring include:
- 1. A developmental math book
- 2. A freshman orientation textbook
- 3. The first in our new career guide series
- 4. An instructor’s guide for the biomedical troubleshooting book
Book projects that haven’t moved quite as far along that he’s shepherding along (or will be in the near future) include:
- 1. A professional development handbook
- 2. A critical thinking handbook
- 3. Two technical dictionaries
- 4. A sentence-level developmental writing handbook
- 5. A general student guide tentatively titled
How to Make Your Professor Bark Like a Dog
All in all, the summer production cycle went relatively smoothly—much more so than last year when we were going through our first really big (for us) series of print runs—especially given that Todd had to hit the ground running when he came on board in May. As always, we’re hoping to take what we learned from this past semester—those unexpected problems that cropped up we’re hoping to avoid in the future—and have things run even more smoothly this fall . . . because we’re concentrating from this point forward on book projects that have bigger potential print runs (and thus, revenue!) where the responsibility to get things right (and on time!) are even more critical from the get go.