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Digital desserts make history

Sweets & Tweets cover

An Illinois State University publishing class has made history—or at least a history museum. The newest digital book published by Jodie Slothower’s English 254 class will be added to the archives of the McLean County Museum of History.

The subject of the book is sweet, and so is its format. The Redbird’s Word: Sweets and Tweets is a review of desserts at local eateries. The book is entirely digital and interactive with Twitter.

“We’ve seen newspapers and magazines move toward more interactive content. Books are heading the same way,” said Slothower. “Students know that this is the future of publishing and are excited to learn the process.”

In the past, Slothower has taught the introduction to publishing course with a printed book and as a combination of print and digital. This is the first year the students opted for a fully digital book. Along with each article, there is a Twitter address, along with the students’ Twitter profile and a tweet that was published about the dessert. “The students had to think about how people would use this book digitally,” she said.

The course is prepping students for the publishing industry. “Most students come in not knowing programs such as InDesign or Photoshop, which are industry standards in publishing,” Slothower said. “Some things in publishing do not change. You need good writing skills, good design skills, and you need to be able to get people excited about your product. What has changed is the technology.”

Each student took on a role in the production of the book, from design and copy editing to photography and marketing. “An important part of publishing is being able to collaborate,” Slothower said. “Students come into a 200-level course like this enjoying reading but without a lot of experience getting a large group to accomplish a task. It’s important for the class to see how everyone is contributing.”

Slothower was pleased when McLean County Museum of History director Greg Koos requested a PDF version of the book for the museum’s archives: “It is a piece of local history—there are maps and listings of restaurants that exist now. It also is a great way to convey how important social media is to this group of students.”

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