After spending over 30 years in the publishing industry, I’ve collaborated in the development and production of thousands of published works. I’ve worked with authors, editors, designers, illustrators, proofreaders, production artists, translators, reviewers—hundreds of people who contributed to the accuracy and quality of each book or digital offering. We followed procedures to ensure content was accurate and errors were eliminated, relying on the next level of review to check the previous changes and additions.
Now that the Internet has given most everybody access to, well, most everything, anyone with a computer can become an author through Wikipedia and numerous blogs. And a major publisher will now allow college and university instructors to edit and rewrite online textbooks—online. This new process struck me as odd, if only because my training and experience always included someone checking behind me each time I changed anything in a manuscript or page proof. But this program allows and even encourages instructors to “fine-tune a textbook,” leaving it to students, parents, and other instructors to help monitor the changes.
I’m interested to see how this innovative plan works over time, specifically in the opinion of the original textbook authors whose works will be revised. I’m also curious to see what kind of changes come about to textbooks when left in the hands of an instructor with strong biases toward one theory or another; or one with fanatical religious or political beliefs; or another who has an ax to grind with the publisher or university. And then there’s the inevitable hacker, who might make changes just for the fun of it. Stay tuned to this one.
Wherever you might fall in the process of creating content, give us a call at PSG for help with your publishing needs.