Duke University Press has just released a very well-done video entitled, “Behind the Covers: The Making of a Journal at Duke University Press.” The video quality, narration, pacing, and soundtrack are all professional-grade.
The video documents the steps that go into making an issue of the South Atlantic Quarterly as a new editor takes the helm and a redesign is put in place. (It’s worth noting that apparently every issue of this journal is a special issue, themed and invited in some manner.) The press release email they sent me noted that this is much slower-paced than the recent video I posted about how Business Week is made. And that’s certainly true.
It’s an interesting video to contemplate. First, I was struck by how print-centric the production process is. Even the redesign was limited (almost unconsciously, it seems) to the printed version. The SAQ Web site doesn’t reflect the new design at all yet. It was pleasant to consider a world like this again, without new XML workflows, contextual advertising, publish-ahead-of-print demands, interface QA, integrated marketing feeds, daily deadlines, Kindle versions, and so forth. They even use the term “bluelines” and, when the definition in the narration galled somebody back at the office, the staff posted an erratum on the video clarifying the origin of the term. Now those are some print-centric people part of me can really relate to! In fact, their simple “post the PDFs” approach to online publishing has a genuine appeal for me, but it’s ultimately an unsustainable appeal — the world has moved on.
And it’s clear from watching this video that nearly any journal would vary significantly from any other in a video presentation of its production workflow. Yes, there are some familiar steps, but online has shifted workflows for science journals much more than it has for humanities journals. So, like the Business Week video is not a definitive documentary about how a magazine is made, this video is not definitive for journals. And I imagine that making a definitive video of such a thing will become increasingly difficult, as variations occur between publications, publishers, and disciplines, and as changes in outputs shift rapidly over time.
All that said, kudos to Duke University Press for making a nice video, capturing a process that, for most of us, will invoke more nostalgia than probably intended.