Course Description

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English 487/687: Multi-Touch, Interactive eBooks and the Future of Publishing
Dr. David Blakesley (
Office: Strode 616; Phone: 765.409.2649 (c)
Office Hours: T-Th 11-2 (in Strode 616 or 1941 Studio) and by appt.
Twitter: dblakesley
Text Message: 765-409-2649 (use it!)
Gmail address: (for sharing Google docs, etc.)

Fall 2012
T-Th 9::30 - 10:45 am
MATRF Lab, Daniel 409

Course Website

Course Location

Early in the semester, most of our class meetings will be in the MATRF, Daniel 409. As projects begin, individuals and groups will also work in the 1941 Studio for Student Communication, which is currently being transformed into a high-end production and design studio geared toward publishing high quality print and digital publications. Unless the course calendar indicates otherwise, class will begin in the MATRF.

Access to the MATRF During Open Hours: Students may use the MATRF facility and equipment during its open hours throughout the semester. If you do want access, however, there's a required materials fee of $45, which can be paid by check (payable to Clemson University) or cash to Kristin Sindorf in the English Department main office, Strode 801.

epub coverCourse Readings

The primary readings for the course will be provided via a Dropbox folder, the course website, or as links from the course calendar. We will use one printed book (see below) when creating ePub formatted books. It's available at the Clemson University Bookstore. The course calendar specifies what should be read and when.

Castro, Elizabeth. From InDesign CS 5.5 to EPUB and Kindle. Cookwood Press, 2012.

Digital Coursepack: This will be distributed electronically via Dropbox, the course website, our Feed Aggregator, a shared folder in Instapaper, and other sources. It will include timely articles on the future of the book, ebook production, and more. Although not all feed articles will appear on the course calendar, you should read thee feeds regularly at our site's feed aggregator and via the blocks on the front page of the course site. Required readings will be listed on the course calendar at least a week in advance of the due date.

Course Goals and Objectives

This course is designed to give students with an eye on careers as authors or in the publishing industry with the practical knowledge and experience they will need to become successful writers and publishers. Students will explore the future of the digital book from productive/generative perspectives, focusing on methods of producing high quality content for the iPad, tablet computers, smartphones, and other ebook readers using iBooks Author and Adobe's Creative Suite and Digital Publishing Suite. Students will develop new and existing book or magazine projects to explore emergent models and processes of composition, design, collaboration, production, dissemination, promotion, and distribution. They will also gain experience useful for securing future internships or positions with local publishers like Parlor Press ( or the Center for Electronic and Digital Publishing (CEDP).

With its focus on production, the course is offered in the MATRF lab to allow for hands-on learning. Prior experience with iBooks Author, Adobe Creative Suite, ePub, HTML, or CSS coding will be helpful but is not required.


Further details about each of these project will be discussed in class and linked from the calendar.

  1. Reading Responses: You should complete fifteen (15) reading responses during the semester. Starting Week 2, I want you to respond to questions or readings listed on the calendar with one short (200- 300-word) semi-formal response posted to your blog at the course website. These responses will need to be posted by class time on the due date. I will also give you 5-10 minutes at the start of every class meeting to write comments on the posts of others and to compose new responses of your own. Some topics will be open. I would also like you to write a minimum of three (3) comments and replies every other week. These can be shorter posts that ask questions, comment, elaborate, or link. These follow-up comments and replies should normally be no more than 150 words, but length ultimately depends on the nature of your response. I will reply to some of your responses but not all. (20% of course grade.)
  2. Weekly In-Class Learning Modules: These modules will help you become proficient with the software and hardware useful for producing and testing high quality, multi-touch books. You'll be given specific challenges or tasks, most of which will use content provided to you. In some cases, the modules may involve creating multimedia content (such as a photograph, recording, or short video). There will be thirteen modules over the course of the semester. Some will be completed in the MATRF, but others may require you to work in the 1941 Studio or at another location. (20% of course grade.)
  3. Individual Project: Your individual course project will involve production, design, distribution, promotion, and publication of one multi-touch short-form book, magazine, or catalog for the iPad using iBooks Author and supporting software. Your book will need to include interactive elements and multiple media (sound, video, images, etc.) You will choose the topic and content for this project, with an eye for either developing new content or using existing content that you or a client (such as Parlor Press) may have developed previously. Your job will be to articulate the goals and parameters of the project and carry it through to completion. The project will extend over the entire semester, but there will be milestones to meet along the way so that you can receive progress grades. Possible projects include a collection of creative writing, an interactive catalog or textbook, a portfolio of your previous work, a magazine, a children's book, an enhanced version of a public-domain work of literature, a travel guide, technical documentation or instructrions, a documentary or biography, or any other type of writing that can be enhanced by multimedia content and interactive elements. Your work may involve working directly with a client (such as an author) or organization. You'll be asked to keep a project log to help manage the process and elicit feedback. At the end of the semester, you'll present your project at the Showcase in the new Publishing and Design Studio. (30% of course grade.)
  4. Collaborative Project: In groups of three, you'll develop an interactive, multi-touch, multimedia book from existing (verbal) content, with an eye for enhancing the content with multimedia components and interactivity, which might include integration with social media. In this case, you'll develop the book for the iPad and other platforms in both iBook and ePub/HTML 5 formats. You'll be able to choose your project from a list provided to you. Some of the work may involve working with authors or client organizations. Graduate students will act as team leaders. Each group member will contribute to a team project log. (20% of course grade.)
  5. Showcase: At the end of the semester, we will host a Showcase in the 1941 Studio. The class will plan the event together, and each person will play a role at the showcase. Work may include development of poster or other interactive displays for attendees. (10% of course grade)


Reading Responses 20%
Weekly Modules 20%
Individual Project 30%
Collaborative Project 20%
Showcase 10%

Grading Criteria and Process

To earn full credit for reading responses and weekly modules you will need to complete all of them and, in the case of reading responses, actively respond to your peers on the course website. Your reading responses and replies should show that you're engaged with the topic and open to new possibilities and ideas. Weekly modules, because they must be completed during class, cannot be made up. You may miss one module without penalty. The criteria for evaluation of the individual and collaborative projects will be spelled out on the full description of each. For the collaborative project, you'll be asked to complete a Collaborative Project Evaluation Form and submit it privately to me on or before the project's due date. For the showcase, you'll be expected to participate actively in its planning and to present your work for the semester during the event.

You'll receive oral feedback and a grade on the individual and collaborative projects in face-to-face conferences with me, both during the semester and once your final version has been submitted. We'll meet at least twice to discuss your individual project while it is in process. The first meeting will take place (privately) during class. The second will be scheduled around midterm, at which time you'll receive a progress grade.


Attendance is required at all scheduled meetings. Three absences may result in your final grade being lowered by as much as a letter grade. More than three absences can result in a failing grade for the course. Excused absences will only be granted for religious holidays or university-sponsored events, provided you make a written request to me no less than two weeks in advance and that you complete any required work before the due date. Being excessively or regularly late for class can also be counted as an absence. Note: If the instructor is late to class, you only need to wait fifteen (15) minutes.

Academic Integrity

Clemson students and their instructors are expected to adhere to the community and ethical standards for behavior and academic integrity at the University:

"As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson's vision of this institution as a "high seminary of learning." Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust 2 and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form."

"When, in the opinion of a faculty member, there is evidence that a student has committed an act of academic dishonesty, the faculty member shall make a formal written charge of academic dishonesty, including a description of the misconduct, to the Associate Dean for Curriculum in the Office of Undergraduate Studies. At the same time, the faculty member may, but is not required to, inform each involved student privately of the nature of the alleged charge."

Unless otherwise noted in assignment guidelines, you should not submit work for this course that has been submitted for a grade in other courses.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who need accommodations should make an appointment with Arlene Stewart, Director of Student Disability Services, to discuss specific needs within the first month of classes. Students should present a Faculty Accommodation Letter from Student Disabilities Services when they meet with instructors. Student Disability Services is located in G-20 Redfern (telephone number: 656-6848; e-mail: Please be aware that accommodations are not retroactive and new Faculty Accommodation Letters must be presented each semester.

In Case of a Campus Emergency

In the event of a major campus emergency, course requirements, deadlines and grading percentages are subject to changes that may be necessitated by a revised semester calendar or other circumstances. You can acquire updated information from the course website, by emailing, texting, or calling me using the information provided on this course description, or by contacting me through the English Department at (864) 656-3151.

Late Work

The majority of missed class assignments cannot be made up. If a serious and unavoidable problem arises, however, you should contact me in writing prior to the deadline to determine whether or not an extension for the work will or will not be granted.