Due to financial instability and the burden placed on student staff, The Bluestone yearbook will now have an up-front cost of $10 per student. The book will first be available for graduating seniors at the Grad Fair on April 1 and available to purchase at the JMU bookstore starting April 3.
“We just want to safeguard our long term financial viability, and also want to take the burden of distribution off of students who have busy schedules and are carving out time mid-final-exams preparation in order to hand out this book,” Associate Professor of English and Faculty Advisor to the Bluestone Mark Rankin said. “$10 is an insubstantial cost for a fantastic book.”
In the past, the Bluestone staff spent time during the last weeks of the semester at frequently-visited places, such as Festival and the Quad, handing out books. There were 5,500 books to hand out between 20 staffers and 5 editorial board members, and according to Abigail Mumma, senior media arts and design and writing, rhetoric and technical communication major and editor-in-chief, this system isn’t feasible moving forward since the 2019 staff has similar numbers.
“The reason for the change is just because The Bluestone is trying to be more sustainable in its budget,” Mumma said. “This is a huge book. It’s expensive to print because it’s really good quality — we put so much work into assembling it. We have to fund our organization and continue to be able to do this book in the future.”
The Bluestone is currently funded through the Student Government Association. Student fees in tuition also help cover the cost.
5,000 books have already been printed, and The Bluestone is looking at ways for more people to get a copy. Rankin hopes that students will be able buy the The Bluestone 2019 edition online and then pick up a copy at the JMU bookstore.
“The new model is in support of JMU student media,” Rankin said. “The funding of JMU student media is interconnected because this new model will support not only the Bluestone, but also The Breeze and WXJM student radio and Gardy Loo literary magazine. We really want to develop this not only for the logistical relief of our students, but also to help better ensure the long-term financial viability of all JMU student media.”
Junior media arts and design major Chrissy Garrett will be one of two co-editor-in-chiefs overseeing the staff and production of the book during the 2019-2020 school year. She started at the Bluestone as a freshman writer and designer, and then moved onto copy editing for her sophomore and junior years.
“It’s a great deal for students because the book is over 250 pages and they’re getting content from a year’s worth of news and events and clubs,” Garrett said. “You can’t even get a paperback for 10 dollars unless it’s used. It’s still a great deal.”
Mumma’s goal for the yearbook was to highlight individual students and groups that haven’t been historically represented. One exhibit featured in the 2019 Bluestone is a multi-cultural event called Black and White on Bluestone Hill: JMU’s Racial History in the Archives.
The Bluestone is nationally recognized and was a 2017 Pacemaker finalist — an award given by the Associated Collegiate Press, a nationwide professional organization for student media. It also won the Benny Award in 2017 — an award given by Printing Industries of America that recognizes pieces that “exhibited truly superior print quality and exceptional craftsmanship” — which is one of the highest honors in print publishing according to Garrett.
“Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts have images of students’ years, but there is no guarantee that those are going to last more than a few years, and they get buried and those images can sometimes be hard to find,” Rankin said. “But having an awesome book on your shelf is going to last forever. It will be there longer than you, so go out and get one.”
Contact Mitchell Sasser at email@example.com. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.