Established in 2011, this small publishing company was named after a 1980s discussion and dining group in Somerville and Cambridge (MA). The group was named in turn after an old Pumping Station on the Charles River in Waltham with a gesture to a quote by Henry Moore about one of his sculptures: “it had great drama with its big heart like a great pumping station” (more background from 2016 essay).

Any net revenue from book sales is directed towards future books and subsidies for participants in Workshops, especially the New England Workshops on Science and Social Change, which run in ways that parallel the original Pumping Station discussion group.  Below is an extract from a blog post on the rationale and mechanics of independent publishing, but first an attempt to provide working definitions for the Pumping Station themes of critical thinking and reflective practice.

Critical Thinking involves holding ideas and practices in tension with alternatives [vs. accepting what is taken for granted]. From an article on teaching critical thinking http://www.faculty.umb.edu/pjt/journey.html:

  • Critical thinking at this level should not depend on students rejecting conventional accounts, but they do have to move through uncertainty. Their knowledge is, at least for a time, destabilized; what has been established cannot be taken for granted. Students can no longer expect that if they just wait long enough the teacher will provide complete and tidy conclusions; instead they have to take a great deal of responsibility for their own learning. Anxieties inevitably arise for students when they have to respond to new situations knowing that the teacher will not act as the final arbiter of their success. A high level of critical thinking is possible when students explore such anxieties and gain the confidence to face uncertainty and ambiguity.

The same essay suggested that developing as a critical thinker is like a journey into unfamiliar areas, which involves risk, opens up questions, creates more experiences than can be integrated at first, requires support, and yields personal and professional change.  In a similar spirit, in Reflective Practice we take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise our approaches accordingly.

The Pumping Station welcomes unsolicited book publishing proposals that resonate with the preceding themes (construed broadly).  The proposals should describe how the author(s) plan to undertake steps 1, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10 below and provide the budget and schedule.  (The Pumping Station covers interactions with the Printer at cost plus 10% of income from retail sales, which the Printer arranges through Ingram and regular online retailers in USA, Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe. If authors want, PDF copies are made downloadable free after an embargo period.)  Proposals should be sent to theps321@gmail.com.


Why publish independently of academic presses and trade publishers?

1.  So you never again hear yourself complaining that the Press:

  • did not provide good copy-editing
  • took too long to bring out the book
  • did not promote the book after it was published
  • provided low royalties.

2. So you can get a small or side project out as a book while you work on a major book project (which, in order to get hired or promoted, you may do through an academic press).

3.So you can build up your own network of copy-editors, graphic designers, and book designers and funnel work to them.

4. So you can learn the skills and discipline of each step in the flow of tasks—from consistency in grammar and punctuation, to using the features in word, to copy-editing, to formatting, to proof-reading, creating a printable pdf.

Why not?

1. You do not have time, interest, funds, or contacts for learning the skills and discipline of copy-editing, design, or marketing (see 3 & 4 above).

2. In order to get hired or promoted, you need the book to be  done through an academic press.

3. The Library of Congress rarely catalogs books from independent publishers.

4. eBrary rarely lists pdf e-books from independent publishers.

Basic steps of independent publishing

0. Buy Marcus’s Independent Self-Publishing: The Complete Guide for helpful detail (c. $20). In brief:

1.  Decide on your budget for publishing a book.  (If you set this at, say, $2000, you will probably need to sell 400 copies to cover costs.)

2. Register your publishing business (including register it with your local town hall, start a checking account, and designate one of your credit cards for charges to be made) (c. $40).

3. Purchase 1 or 10 ISBNs from http://www.bowker.com ($125 or $250).

4. Make a contract with Lightning Source to print on demand in the USA (and, if desired, in Australia and UK).  (Print on demand means that you do nothing to have the book sold through online retailers, but can get copies for a little bit more plus shipping to retail yourself [or to give away].)

5. Arrange for the manuscript to be copy edited and then revise it (c. $1000).

6. Arrange for a designer for the book’s interior and cover (c. $400).

7. Get a preassigned control number from the Library of Congress (http://pcn.loc.gov/pcn007.html).  (You have to send them a copy once it is printed.  It may or may not be cataloged by LOC.)

8. Submit the inside of the book to Lightning Source as a pdf/x and the cover using one of their templates; review the proof that will arrive in a week or so; then give the go-ahead for publishing ($75 for set up, c. $25 for copies to be kept on file and submitted to Library of Congress, $85 for listing with Ingrams, $12/ISBN per year).

9. Set up retailing (incl. payment of sales tax to state government).

10. Undertake marketing.

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