Creating a companion site for your textbook: What to consider

Companion sites can enrich the learning experience for readers by offering valuable features that can’t be shared on a printed page and/or might be too costly to include in an e-book. There are many factors to consider when planning or developing a companion site for your textbook. In a recent TAA webinar entitled Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials & Companion Sites, Janet Salmons, an independent researcher, writer, consultant, and founder of Vision2Lead, offered detailed advice for authors interested in creating companion sites for their textbooks. [Read more…]

Join us for the 4/24 TAA Webinar, ‘Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites’

Janet SalmonsYou have completed the textbook manuscript, now what? Some publishers expect you to develop ancillary materials for companion sites they host. If not, you might want to create your own.

Join us Monday, April 24 from 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, “Texts Plus: Ancillary Materials and Companion Websites”. Textbook writer Janet Salmons will share and critique examples of companion websites from major publishers and individual authors. She will evaluate the types of materials posted, including media, instructional or student resources. [Read more…]

How to create textbook supplements

Karen Timberlake

Karen Timberlake

Chemistry author Karen Timberlake created a website for the seventh edition of her textbook, Chemistry: An Introduction to General, Inorganic and Biological Chemistry (now in its 10th edition) several years ago, before publishers entered the Internet and began adding online materials such as website supplements to textbook packages.

At Timberlake’s website, students can access learning and teaching activities that complement both her chemistry classes for allied health and her Chemistry textbook, including:

CheModules: PowerPoint Tutorials (PPTS) use mini-lectures and short learning checks to actively engage students in learning.

ChemLinks: Web sources related to each of the topics may enhance a student’s study and learning.

LecturePLUS: Chemodules using (PPTS) develop important chemistry concepts for many topics in the allied health and preparatory chemistry courses.

Books: These give more information on the textbook and supplements.

Quizzes: Self-graded quizzes give practice and immediate feedback on topics covered in chemistry for allied health.
[Read more…]

Should you receive royalties on derivative products?

Q: “Should I receive royalties on products such as Vango Notes and other derivative products?”

“I have a business textbook with Pearson/Prentice-Hall. I picked Pearson for this book because I really like the level of development they invest in new projects, and now that we are in the second edition, the book is doing reasonably well. With the second edition Pearson also launched a VangoNotes version of our book. This is how the Vango site describes them:

‘VangoNotes are exclusively for Pearson Education textbooks. Some VangoNotes subject texts may still be helpful, so browse by subject at Alternatively, your professor may be able to recommend a Pearson textbook that will be relevant for your class.’

I’ve listened to the material on my book and it could be a substitute for it (though in brief), and the quote above clearly suggests that Pearson/Vango view the resources as interchangeable. I don’t receive royalties on VangoNotes, even though it is essentially a summary version of the book, by chapter. Does anyone have some guidance for me as to what steps I should/could take to remedy this? I have talked with another Pearson author who has the same experience and concern. I also have experience with another publisher, Flat World Knowledge, which pays me a royalty on all derivative products related to my book, even study aids. My sense is that this is coming from the legal side of Pearson, not the editorial side, and I like working with my current editor.” [Read more…]

Should you create resource materials for a textbook to sell commercially?

Q: “Is permission needed from a publisher to develop resource materials for a textbook if those materials will be sold commercially or is it just necessary to have a disclaimer?”

A: Elsa Peterson, a freelance editor with 25 years of experience in the college textbook industry:

“I’ve done a fair amount of permissions editing over the years, which doesn’t equip me to give a comprehensive answer to your question, but I’ll give you my perspective. I think there are a couple of different points to address here.

You plan to sell the resource materials commercially. This means you’ll be in direct competition with the ancillaries that come with the textbook, either free with adoption or for an additional price. The publisher would undoubtedly take a dim view of your competing in this manner, and therefore would be sensitive to any possible copyright infringement you may have committed if you sold your resource materials without obtaining permission. While the textbook’s title and the name(s) of its author(s) are not subject to copyright protection, it’s hard to imagine how you would create resource materials without using any content from the book itself. I think you’d have a hard time arguing fair use if you did use such content — even very brief excerpts of it — for this purpose.]

What kind of disclaimer did you have in mind? Has the publisher/distributor that proposes to sell your resource materials given you a sample disclaimer wording? If so, I would ask an independent attorney to evaluate the wording.”

Can you claim royalties on workbook giveaways?

Q: Years ago, when we wrote our first high school textbooks and workbooks, these items were sold to the schools and we received royalties on each component. Then as publishers began giving away more and more items to secure a big adoption (or a state listing), they began giving away ancillaries. Now they even give away some student books. [Read more…]

How to protect the copyright of CDs

Q: “How can I go about copy-protecting my CDs?”

A: Elizabeth Boepple:

“If anyone is interested in copy-protecting CDs (including preventing downloading to a hard drive or other removable media), I’ve learned it’s easy, and the software is free. The encoded CDs must be purchased from the software distributor, but their cost is insignificant compared to the cost of producing a print book. I also find their customer service and turn-around time from order to delivery to be excellent. (In this day of tech support in foreign countries spoken in barely intelligible folks of questionable competence, these folks not only gave me unlimited pre-sales time to describe the product, but talked me through my first time using the software (no, I’m not being paid for the endorsement).” [Read more…]

Should you create textbook ancillaries yourself?

Q: “Should you create ancillaries yourself?”

A: Michael Sullivan, author of 50-plus mathematics textbooks:

“In the first edition of your book and if you’re in an area where a solutions manual is typical, do it yourself. The pattern of a solutions manual must match the way they are done in the example. If this is not consistent, it will be confusing to the reader. In later editions, you can have someone else do it because you’ve created the model for how to do it.”

Who owns the copyright to coursepacks I create for my lecture?

Q: “My question concerns my coursepack for my lecture, which is sold at our college bookstore. I created it at my home office using my own computer. It contains my own original illustrations, graphics, and charts. I contend that this is my intellectual property while the bookstore has recently made an attempt to copyright all coursepacks in the name of my college. I am quite sure that my college is taking liberties that it has no right to legally. What is the best method for me to proceed to prevent the college from stealing my intellectual property?”

A: Steve Gillen, publishing-law lawyer:

“As a general rule, you have a copyright in any original work of expression prepared by you and that right vests automatically the instant your work is recorded in a tangible medium. Provided the illustrations, graphics and charts in your course pack were created by you and not copied or adapted from some other source, this default rule would vest ownership of the copyrights in you. An important exception to this default rule is known as the work-for-hire doctrine. [Read more…]