Religious Scholarship Publisher Fortress Uses Pressbooks

Marissa Wold is senior project manager at Augsburg Fortress Publishers, managing the production process for a large line of print and ebook titles annually. Two years ago Fortress used Pressbooks to streamline its production process, shifting 81 percent of its titles from traditional typesetting to Pressbooks.

Q. Why did you choose to use Pressbooks instead of other alternatives?

A. For a long time, we’ve traditionally typeset our books. When we made the commitment to publish our books both in print and digitally, we needed a time- and cost-effective way to create print PDFs and EPUB and mobi files. PressBooks offered an intuitive, easy-to-use solution to this. In addition to the tool itself, we’ve appreciated [founder] Hugh’s willingness to work with us on adding functionality unique to our publishing area (specifically, Greek and Hebrew), as well as some aesthetic updates to our themes.

Q. How did you alter your operations to bring Pressbooks into the workflow?

A. There are two main areas where we’ve altered our process. The first is that we’ve had to teach freelancers how to use PressBooks, which was not a part of our process when we sent manuscripts to typesetters who already knew, for example, InDesign. The second is that the creation of EPUB and mobi files is now much more immediate and painless. Rather than sending out application files, waiting for them to be converted and then testing the resulting EPUBs and mobis multiple times, we can do it ourselves in a matter of minutes. The release of our ebooks is now virtually simultaneous to the release of print books.

Q. How has Pressbooks changed the way your company thinks about book production?

A. Book production now seems efficient. While it doesn’t lessen the time or cost of copyediting or cover mechanicals, for example, the time and money I spend on ebooks is dramatically lower than what it was three years ago.

Q. Your background includes both editing and project management. What do you love best about Pressbooks?

A. I really appreciate Pressbooks’ collaborative and open nature. If my freelance colleague and I are puzzling over something, we both can look at the book without passing files back and forth and thereby incurring the risk of version control. I also really love that it’s now easier to release our books in both print and digital forms simultaneously. That makes my job easier, both process- and budget-wise. I also like that users can see the HTML pane. I am an HTML novice to say the least, but I appreciate being able to make little tweaks if I need to.

Q. Where does Fortress fit in the religious publishing sector, and has Pressbooks helped you to be more competitive and if so, how?

A. For over 50 years, Fortress Press has been a pioneer in religious scholarship. Our commitment to publishing timely, relevant and transformative materials has led our publications to become authoritative works in their respective fields—-works now referenced by academics and scholars, studied at colleges and universities and collected in libraries and seminaries around the world. Fortress Press publishes in three main areas; FP Education, FP Academic and FP Reference. The efficiencies that PressBooks offers has made it feasible to publish new series, including our Emerging Scholars series, that otherwise would have been financially challenging and difficult from a scheduling perspective. With this series, we’re now able to publish new voices in religious scholarship.

Q. The layouts you do include a lot of more complex features–lots of footnotes, Greek and Hebrew, chapter subtitles. Any advice to users on these?

A. I think this is the nature of scholarly publishing! Hugh and the PressBooks gang have been fantastic about accommodating our need for these features. To current users already working on a project, I suggest reviewing the HTML side and looking up proper HTML code if something doesn’t look quite right. The Pressbooks forum is a great place for users and Pressbooks staff to problem-solve together. To new users looking to dive in and commission their own theme, I’d recommend reviewing past and present manuscripts to assess what features are necessary and what kind of design might be appropriate for the intended audience. Theme design has been eye-opening for me in terms of what we tend to publish (e.g. tables, sidebars, Greek and Hebrew) and how we need it to look, down to the font of headings.

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