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On Interning at Island Press: More Than I Expected

In this week's installment, Production Intern Allison Buttel discusses how her experience at Island Press has opened the door to a thrilling new career opportunity. I began my Production Internship at Island Press with the goal of embarking on a new career path. I have seven years of experience in the renewable energy field, but I eventually decided that my passion is environmental science, and in particular, books that inspire others and drive change in the world. When I learned about the internship program at Island Press I was stunned; I had no idea this amazing opportunity existed to learn about the world of environmental science publishing. I was thrilled to join Island Press as the Fall Production Intern. In my romanticized vision of environmental science publishing, I pictured editors and authors working together to develop and flesh out a book, and then – presto! – a book is created. While collaborative creativity certainly happens in the editorial department, I never stopped to think about the rest of the work that goes into producing a book, that final product that we hold in our hands, or read on our Kindles. So what happens? There are many aspects in producing a book. Someone has to:
  • Make sure that the page numbers in the Table of Contents are correct
  • Check that the running heads (the name of the book and the chapter at the top of the page) are correct
  • Flip through every page to make sure that all the page numbers are in order
  • Read through the entire book and create an index
  • Read each word carefully enough to find misspellings, improper grammar, dropped periods, extra       periods, capitalization errors, commas where there should be semi-colons, extra spaces, missing words, etc.
  • Figure out how long the book will be, based on the physical size of the book, the font size, the number of photos and tables, and the amount of text that will fit on each page
  • Create a cover
  • Make the book into an e-Book
  • Print and bind the books and send them to bookstores
At Island Press some of these tasks are performed by freelancers. For example, we do not physically print the books and we often have others create the index. In my two months at Island Press I have participated in many of the remaining production steps. And in learning what it takes to produce a book, I have noticed new things about myself. I have discovered that I find satisfaction in making sure that the page numbers are in order. I get excited when I find an error and fix it. I revel in the opportunity to be incredibly nitpicky (and manuscripts don’t get offended at being scrutinized!). And most importantly, I am fulfilled by contributing to the production of important, informative, and transformative books that serve a purpose by teaching society how to appreciate and protect our environment.