With the populatiry of electronic books and magazines on the rise, updated skills can be a must for future publishing professionals.
Last Saturday, Emerson students crammed into the Ansin Building to learn the tips and tricks of digital publishing. About 30 people attended the event, sponsored by digital-publishing blog Appazoogle, to expand knowledge of the creation and publication of electronic books, or e-books.
The event was divided into several individual sessions. Two sessions outlined the basics of HTML and CSS. During a wildcard session, participants chose a class on either mobile design; coding items to fit mobile devices; or metadata; which is information necessary in the production of e-books. Yet another session focused on the basics of creating EPUB files, the file format of e-books.
The day started with the basics of coding.Sessions were taught in a lecture style format, progressing to more hands-on work throughout the day.
Iris Febres, an instructor of a session, said she thought this event attracted many different types of students.
“We saw a wide range of skills,” said Febres. “Some people had a lot of previous knowledge and some had absolutely none.”
This is the first time Appazoogle has put on this type of workshop, according to the blog’s editor, Leah Thompson, who attended the program. The final product, she said, is a result of brainstorming amongst the members of the Appazoogle staff.
Thompson explained that the members wanted to create the event not only to educate their peers but also to help educate themselves in the growing field.
The blog was started in November by a group of Emerson graduate students as a class project with the guidance of their professor David Goehring. The focus of the blog is for young professionals in the field to look at how publishing is evolving, said Thompson.
The workshop was open for anyone interested, and, though there were some undergraduate and non-Emerson students there, the majority of attendees were Emerson graduate students looking to expand their publishing knowledge.
First-year graduate publishing student Grant Bradley, who is currently taking an Electronic Publishing Overview class, said he wanted to take advantage of a free event.
“I wanted to get as much information as possible and just hammer it in,” he said.
According to Febres, the members of Appazoogle saw this event not only as a way to give back to Emerson, but also as a way to give the students who were not able to take electronic publishing classes an opportunity to learn some of those skills. She said she remembers just how quickly those classes would fill up.
“All of the feedback I’ve received has been positive and enthusiastic, and I think from this event we’ve learned a lot about ways we can improve if we do the same workshop again,” she said.
Febres said that given the limited amount of time available, she had hoped to give a lot of people a taste of the basics.
“It was a real learning experience not only of what could go wrong, but also what could go right,” said Febres.
Chandra Asar, a participant who graduated from Emerson with a masters in writing and publishing, said she wanted to develop her e-book skills in anticipation a future career in publishing. Asar said she hopes Appazoogle will hold more events in the future for people who have already taken this beginner course.
With the growing popularity of e-readers like the Amazon Kindle and the Nook, having a basic background knowledge in creating e-books could prove to be useful for aspiring publishing professionals. Sophomore Kim MacCormack said that, even though she is not interested in producing e-books, she finds them more accessible than print books.
“Everything is moving toward technology,” said the theater studies and writing, literature, and publishing double major. “Since Emerson is obsessed with social media and technology, it seems fitting that its students learn about e-books.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said the event held two wildcard sessions on mobile design and creating EPUB files. The two sessions were in fact on mobile design and metadata. Additionally, the previous version stated that mobile design session included information about metadata, which was incorrect. Also, Febres was credited to having said that the workshop was "essential for students," though she did not say that. Lastly, the facts in the paragraph about how members saw the Appazoogle event were wrongly attributed to Thompson in the earlier version. That information was in fact given by Febres.
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