Course Description

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The Future of the Book

ENGL 4890 / 6890: Special Topics in Writing and Publication Studies

Dr. David Blakesley (
Office: Strode 616; Phone: 765.409.2649 (cell; also for texts)
Office Hours: T-Th, 11am–12:30pm, 2pm–3pm, and by appt.
Skype: david.blakesley1 (by appt.)
Gmail: (also for Google Chat, Hangouts)
Course Contact Form: user/2/contact (must be logged in)
Behance Team Page: Future of the Book

ENGL 4890/6890 001
Spring 2015
T-Th, 12:30–1:45pm
MATRF (Daniel 406)

Course Website (Available 1/13/2015)

Reading List

These are the primary course readings. All are available at the Clemson University Bookstore or from online retailers. Any other course readings will be distributed through a shared Box account or reside on the Internet. The course calendar specifies what should be read and when.

Show Your Work cover Smarter than You Think cover APE cover GO cover
Kleon, Austin. Show Your Work. Workman Publishing, 2014. 978-0761178972. Website: Thompson, Clive. Smarter Than You Think. Penguin, 2014. 978-1-59420-445-6. Website: Clive's Blog: Collision Detection Kawasaki, Guy, and Shawn Welch. APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur Nononina Press, 2013. 978-0-9885231-0-4. Website: Kidd, Chip. Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design. Workman Publishing, 2013. 978-0761172192. Website: or

Digital Coursepack: This will be distributed electronically via the course website, our Feed Aggregator, and a shared folder in Box. It will include additional readings, videos, audio recordings, and more, including the complete collection of Before and After Magazine.


This course explores the rapidly changing landscape of the book publishing industry as it adapts to emergent digital technologies and the demands of a connected public, the continuing presence and influence of printed books, the nature and future of the book as an artifact, and the book's possible evolution as transmedia, as augmented, and as social. Students will also explore the future of the digital and printed book from practical and generative perspectives, focusing on methods of producing high quality content for mobile platforms or other ebook readers and using Adobe's Creative Cloud and Digital Publishing Suite (DPS). Students will develop existing books and work with real clients to explore emergent models and processes of composition, design, collaboration, production, dissemination, promotion, and distribution. All students will use Adobe's Behance and Creative Cloud to manage book projects and will also explore O'Reilly's new Atlas publishing platform.

Together, we will work on a wide variety of book publishing projects, share work in progress in professional networks, and create case studies of all of our work with emergent technologies. You will also read, comment on, and elaborate what others write and say about the future of the book. Based on these readings and experiences, you will create your own theories and examples of future books, publish some of this work in a new DPS App, and, drawing from principles in Show Your Work, feature it in professional social networks (Behance) and a web-based professional portfolio (ProSite).


Blog Posts about Readings and Innovations in Publishing. Starting in Week 3, you should create a blog post on the course site that addresses a point or principle from the readings and in line with practices advocated by Austin Kleon. Every post should include two or more relevant images and two or more links to resources or references elsewhere on the Internet (such as interviews, video, or articles). The goal of these posts will be to share your work and ideas in interesting or creative ways, engaging the wider world of conversation about the future of the book and related topics. Some of your posts will report on your examination of existing and new publishing practices. Each blog post should include between 150 and 200 words. Additionally, everyone should plan on responding and commenting (by the following week) to at least three posts by your peers. Responses should engage the subject/topic, suggest alternative resources or ideas, and help the writer make connections to broader networks of inquiry. After receiving peer feedback, you'll select at least three responses by midterm to revise further for possible publication in the class's Atlas or DPS App book project. You'll work with the class's editorial team during this part of the process. The calendar will identify the tags that you'll need to use. (20% of course grade.)

Behance and ProSite Portfolios. Throughout the course, you'll learn to use Behance to share your work publicly with the class (or your project groups) and then with a broader professional network. You'll be free to place any samples of your work in Behance, including your best blog posts. As you accumulate more work in Behance, you'll begin to develop your own ProSite, which functions as an online professional portfolio. You'll be responsible for choosing what content to make public. In the end, your Behance and ProSite portfolios will stand as an example of your best work in this course (and perhaps others as well, if you choose). By the end of the class, your Behance portfolio should have at least ten items (probably many more), and your ProSite at least five colleections or examples of your work (think of a collection as a set of images or artifacts on a particular theme or topic. (10% of course grade.)

* Note: Each of the following projects will be supported by a full project description when it is formally assigned.

Individual Book Project. On your own, you'll develop an interactive, multi-touch, ebook from existing (verbal and visual) content for multiple platforms: ePub, Kindle (where interactive elements may be minimal), iBook, and DPS App with an eye for enhancing the content with multimedia components and interactivity (where possible and desirable), which might include integration with social media, external links or additional available content. You'll be able to choose your project from a list provided to you, or you may choose to work with a book from another source. Some of your work may involve working with authors or client organizations. At the end of the semester, you'll present your project with your team at our end-of-the-semester showcase. (20% of course grade.).

Major Collaborative Book Project. For this project, you'll work with three or more peers on an extended book project using either the DPS or Atlas platforms. The project will involve the development, production, and publication of content across a variety of book-related media. You'll be asked to use Creative Cloud tools and spaces to manage your project (e.g., share files, progress notes, and so on). The full project and all of its steps will be outlined on a separate page and assigned early in the semester. Throughout the semester, you'll be asked to present progress reports in class. Some projects may involve field work or attendance at special events on campus, to be arranged. One group will work with Atlas and be led by a graduate student. The other groups will work with Adobe DPS as the publishing platform. Regular but informal project reports will be presented during class time. (25% of course grade.)

Multimedia Case Study. Your case study will examine the process and results of your major collaborative book project and should be presented (and presentable) in multimedia formats including text, audio, video, and other forms of interactive media. Your audience for this project will be book publishers, industry specialists, Clemson faculty, students, and staff, and the wider public. Each collaborative group will be responsible for producing a case study documenting its project and results. The assignment description will provide many examples, including Drupal Case Studies. (20% of course grade.)

Resources and Technologies

You'll have full access to the Adobe Creative Cloud suite of tools for designing and developing a wide variety of content across all media and platforms, from print to smartphone. Some of the course readings will support your learning of these tools and will be categorized on a separate page at the course site. You will find the need to spend additional time learning to use the tools you need for each of your projects, and some class time will be devoted to learning specialized uses of the Adobe tools. If you use a laptop, you should install the Creative Cloud (see and bring it to class. You can also install the software on your desktop machine. We'll also identify places on campus where you'll have access to the software, in addition to the MATRF. Also, our class has privileged access to O'Reilly Media's new Atlas publishing platform, so everyone will have an opportunity to learn about that web-based system during the semester.

Learning Creative Cloud Tools. Almost all of the work you produce in class will be with software in Adobe's Creative Cloud suite of tools, which are vast. At the start of class, you'll be asked to create and verify your Adobe ID, install the Creative Cloud on a computer you have easy access to, and then begin learning more about how to use the programs by watching and reading Adobe's many tutorials. You don't have to have much, if any, prior experience with Adobe software at the start, but you will need to be eager and willing to learn more, develop existing skills further, and spend extra time learning to use the tools you need to use to complete course projects. Although we'll use a wide variety of them, the most commonly used applications will be InDesign, Acrobat, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, and Premiere.

Additional course resources will be shared via the "Handouts" section of the course site.


Blog Posts about Readings and Innovations in Publishing 20%
Behance and ProSite Portfolios 10%
Individual Book Project 25%
Major Collaborative Book Project 25%
Multimedia Case Study 20%

To earn full credit for blog posts and revisions, you will need to complete each one on time and as a fully engaged designer/writer and actively respond to your peers. Blog posts will be scored on the following scale: 2 (excellent), 1 (satisfactory), 0 (incomplete, late, or not submitted). The criteria for evaluation of the other major projects will be spelled out on its full description. For the collaborative projects, you'll be asked to complete a Collaborative Project Evaluation Form and submit it privately to me right after your group presentation. You'll receive feedback along the way throughout each project from your peers and a grade on the projects after they're completed. Much of the feedback you receive from me (as the instructor) will be provided orally during class or during my office hours whenever you would like to discuss your progress or recently completed work.


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 four 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 one week 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.

Decorum and Professional Communication

All students are expected to behave responsibly and collegially in the course's online space, via email, or in any other interactive course communication (e.g., Skype, if used), just as they would in a face-to-face course. Everything you write in the course, including email with each other and the instructor, blog posts and replies, peer responses, and even text messages should be conducted professionally and (probably) more formally than you might expect. You should be especially mindful of decorum, which is alertness to the ethical practices of a community. Harassment of any kind in email, blog post, or other communication will not be tolerated and may be subject to a warning from the instructor, dismissal from the course space, or referral to the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students who feel they have been harassed in some way should contact the instructor privately by email or phone.

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 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."

"Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form. In instances where academic standards may have been compromised, Clemson University has a responsibility to respond appropriately to charges of violations of academic integrity."

You should review the graduate integrity policy here:

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.