The author’s view on e-textbook publishing: The Textbook of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

This blog post was written by Deepak Kalaskar, Lecturer in Cellular Engineering, UCL.

Writing a textbook was never on my agenda and thoughts of editing one had never crossed my mind. However, when I got involved in the postgraduate course delivery of the MSc in Burns and Plastic Reconstructive Surgery at UCL, I increasingly realised as an academic the need for a textbook which delivered teaching in this subject area at postgraduate level. Students and even lecturers still scan hundreds of books and make notes to understand over 40 different topics. Why not convert those refined and useful notes into one comprehensive textbook? This is where my journey into editing the book started.

It was by no means a trivial task. Overseeing the organisation of a multi-contributor volume that was reviewed by a senior plastic surgery consultant was an arduous journey. I spent hours editing and discussing chapters with the author team to ensure the content was appropriate and they were of high quality. However, the most interesting aspect I would like to highlight is not the writing or the editing, but the publication of the book. There are many books in plastic surgery but access to them is limited for obvious reasons, their cost! Even if a student wants to expand their learning the price is prohibitive. Also, one is never enough; you always need more as you expand your knowledge in this field.

What we achieved with UCL Press is revolutionary, we have created a textbook Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery which is available to the masses. Being the only postgraduate programme offering of its kind at UCL, the MSc in Burns, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery attracts students from all around the world. This textbook fulfils the academic needs of these students and beyond. Now, the textbook is available via the UCL Press website and has become the first seminal textbook for the course I am running.  The EPDF can be freely downloaded on most electronic devices making it even easier to access. The book has been downloaded more than 20,000 times in 152 countries. This textbook rightfully earned global engagement for both our team and UCL Division of Surgery. This is an excellent example of collaborative work, which aligned very well with UCL’s connected curriculum and ‘UCL 2034’ educational strategy. We are already in the process of preparing the second edition.

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