Virginia Tech history students recently got published with a little help from their friends at VT Publishing.

A group of 18 students organized, authored, and edited a book, “Welcome to the Beatles,” over the course of the spring 2018 semester. The publication is now freely accessible online as an eBook through VT Publishing and available for purchase as a print book through Amazon.

The students collaborated on the book as part of an advanced class, History Research Seminar, taught by Robert Stephens, an associate professor of history.

“The Book Project gives students the opportunity to put together all they’ve learned in their major at Virginia Tech and create something both original and of substance,” said Stephens. “The future of higher education is giving more ownership to our students. This project allowed the students to write, edit, and publish their own book and put it out into the world for readers to learn from and enjoy.

“It’s the quintessential hands-on, minds-on project,” Stephens added, “and I applaud the students for the excellent volume they completed.”

The students were excited about creating a published book that would live on for years to come.

“I was passionate about this project because it enabled our class to practice so many real-world skills,” said Andrew Pregnall, lead editor of the project and a senior pursuing a dual degree in microbiology and history. “All of these experiences could be useful in someone’s future, regardless of career path.”

“Welcome to the Beatles” delves into numerous aspects of the iconic rock band and their enduring significance. The book includes sections on media, race relations, gender, business, globalization, and legacy.

Over the years the Beatles have been analyzed exhaustively from nearly every angle. These students bring their own perspective, Stephens said, having come of age generations after the Beatles’ heyday, which ultimately enabled them to reexamine the band with the benefit of historical distance.

VT Publishing, the University Libraries–based scholarly publishing hub of Virginia Tech, guided the student authors through the publishing process, helping them to organize and format their chapters, obtain an ISBN and barcode, and ensure that readers can find the book through multiple distribution channels, including Amazon.

“It is exciting to bring the experience of publishing books to Virginia Tech undergraduate students,” said Peter Potter ’84, director of publishing strategy for the University Libraries. “I was a history major at Virginia Tech back in the day, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity to publish a book at the end of my senior year.”

“Being able to work with students and support them in their creativity and authoring was very rewarding,” said Robert Browder, digital publishing specialist for the University Libraries.

Immediately after its launch, the book began receiving positive responses, and it was featured on the open-access book website, unglue.it. While class members aren’t going on their own magical mystery tour yet, they were noticed by a well-known Beatles scholar, Kenneth Womack, who wrote to congratulate them on the book and invite them to a conference.

In a short amount of time, “Welcome to the Beatles” has sold more than 50 copies on Amazon and been downloaded more than 250 times. These downloads have come from VT Publishing, unglue.it, and VTechWorks, the digital archive of the University Libraries. 

“The partnership with VT Publishing was not only new and exciting, but a complete success,” said Stephens. “It has made the process of creating a book, which the Department of History has been doing for a decade, more streamlined and accessible. Working with Peter Potter and Robert Browder has been fantastic, and I expect we will continue this partnership well into the future.

“In the age of digital production and print on demand, we can and should all be authors,” added Stephens. “By asking our students to create for the world beyond the classroom, we allow them to become their best selves.”

Written by Elise Monsour Puckett