Cengage says authors cannot opt out of Cengage Unlimited

textbook opt outIn a recent post on the Cengage blog, Erin Joyner, the company’s senior vice president of product, said that authors cannot opt out of Cengage Unlimited. However, industry experts say Cengage cannot make this sweeping statement.

“The large majority of publishing agreements do not contemplate the Cengage Unlimited model of distribution,” said David Slarskey, a litigator with Slarskey LLC. “Refusing author demands to opt-out tends to undermine the terms of the contract.”
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#AcWriChat TweetChat: Not on Twitter? Watch live here on 4/20 at 11 a.m. ET

acwrimoJoin TAA on Twitter on Friday, April 20 at 11 a.m. ET using the hashtag #AcWriChat for our latest TweetChat focused on creating proposals.

Not on Twitter? Not sure what a “Tweet Chat” is? Follow us here (you won’t be able to actively participate, but you will be able to follow the chat live).

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Cengage, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Wiley win $34.2m willful trademark and copyright infringement suit

Don't buy counterfeit textbooksCengage, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, and Wiley won a $34.2 million verdict in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against a group of online booksellers and their owner for dealing in counterfeit textbooks.

The nine-person jury unanimously found the defendants — several Ohio-based bookselling companies, including Book Dog Books and Robert William Management, and their owner, Philip Smyres — liable for willful trademark infringement, willful copyright infringement, and breach of a prior settlement agreement. [Read more…]

2018 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2018 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about how they made the decision to write their textbook, how they interested a publisher, what they do to boost their writing confidence, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This first installment of the four-part series focuses on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got the interest of a publisher. [Read more…]

Executive Director’s Message: Developing sustainable textbook business models

Textbooks have a very different challenge from journals in converting to online businesses. First, readers have not embraced longer works online quite as enthusiastically as they adopted shorter journal articles. Print continues to have strong appeal as a reading format.

Another critical barrier to developing sustainable online textbook business models is working out the complexities of author royalties.

We have entered a new phase of experimentation with textbook business models. One major textbook publisher recently introduced a digital platform providing student access to all eligible textbooks in the publisher’s portfolio for a flat rental fee per semester. This is but one version of a broader strategy called “inclusive access” (see Joe Esposito’s excellent post on this in SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen blog from March of last year). Inclusive access plans enable institutions to negotiate for campus-wide access to titles for a student fee that can be a fraction of the current average cost of textbooks each semester.

There are serious concerns among authors – especially of works already published – about how these new plans will impact royalties. Are authors paid a small share of every student fee collected?…every time their work gets used?…or only when the work is adopted for a particular course? It is unknown how online royalties accounting can be audited, or whether author royalties for online access can remain at least comparable to print royalties.

Even so, experimentation with business models is necessary. Textbook publishing must adapt to both the threats and opportunities presented by the digital environment.

The business case for aggregated fees rests on expanding market share and increasing the percentage of students who purchase access digitally. Inclusive access and other strategies have already reduced student average spending per semester and per book in recent years, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and the number of students who are getting by without purchasing a textbook, or only buying used books is still apparently very high today (see http://bit.ly/2ivJwlY).

Non-sales and used copy sales do not contribute anything to author or publisher royalties. Changing that dynamic might stabilize author royalties even if the royalty ‘per unit’ is lower. But there are risks for authors in the new arrangements, and the rollout of publisher business model experiments has so far been shrouded in secrecy. Publishers who want to act as partners with authors will take steps to inform them and address their questions before experimental models are presented to the market. And authors, as key stakeholders, should remain open minded to new models, but express their concerns and ideas pro-actively with their publishers whenever possible.

~ Michael Spinella, TAA Executive Director

Announcement of Cengage Unlimited royalty calculation model raises new questions

online library of textbooksCengage’s royalty calculation model for its new subscription service Cengage Unlimited has raised a few questions that remain unanswered, primarily, will their model account for the range of existing publishing agreements—which have a variety of different provisions for accounting for royalties?

“Here’s the key problem,” said Stephen E. Gillen, a partner with Wood, Herron & Evans. “Cengage has a wide variety of different contracts that were entered over time. Some of their longer lasting titles, those in their 10th edition and up, are the subjects of original contracts still in place that were entered 40 or more years ago. Many of their contracts were not done on Cengage forms but were acquired from other publishers, all of which have different provisions for accounting for royalties. Some of them were done before the days of bundling, custom publishing, digital publishing, and publishing through interactive/adaptive learning platforms and so do not provide expressly for those then unanticipated media or channels of distribution. But Cengage has thousands of authors and almost certainly a greater number of contracts (no author will have less than one contract, and many will have multiple contracts). It’s hard for me to imagine that they are going to have lawyers go back over every single contract to determine if and how it should be treated in the current scheme.” [Read more…]

Kick off your summer writing program with TAA’s June writing conference

2018 TAA ConferenceLooking for inspiration and structure for your summer writing projects? Look no further. TAA’s 31st Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference features veteran authors, industry professionals, and intellectual property attorneys who can provide strategies and guidance on how to move forward with your writing projects to reach your publication goals. Join us at La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, NM, June 15-16 and prepare to be inspired. [Read more…]

4/12 TAA Webinar: ‘Making Textbooks Accessible to Students With Disabilities’

Robert MartinengoAs digital technology continues to redefine the market for instructional materials, one thing remains constant: students with disabilities must not be left out. While products evolve, the concepts of equal access, and the legal obligation of educational institutions not to discriminate, remain.

Join us Thursday, April 12 from 2-3 p.m. ET, for the TAA Webinar, “Making Textbooks Accessible to Students With Disabilities”, presented by Robert Martinengo, Publisher Outreach Specialist for the CAMI project at AMAC Accessibility. [Read more…]

Scholarly Kitchen founder Kent Anderson to keynote at 2018 TAA Conference

Kicking off TAA’s 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference this year is keynoter Kent R. Anderson, CEO of RedLink, a past-President of the Society for Scholarly Publishing, and the founder of “The Scholarly Kitchen” blog. In his keynote, Anderson will discuss how scholarly practices are of critical importance as we face an information economy that has become increasingly overwhelmed with self-interested distortions of fact presented on an equal footing with facts and research findings. As the current environment evolves, scholars who seek to express and share findings based in observable reality are increasingly challenged or, worse, dismissed. He will argue the need for new approaches, governance, and practices by researchers, educators, and publishers in order to preserve quality information, the relevance of science, and the ascendancy of objective reality.
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Learning science and textbook design: The value of pre-testing to jumpstart student learning

In the hands of an experienced teacher and motivated students, a textbook can be a powerful tool for learning. As with any tool in one’s toolbox, a design that enhances utility, and thereby improves performance, can make a textbook an effective, frequently used implement. As a textbook author, I realize that although effective communication of content is at the center, my textbooks will be used successfully only if the instructional design promotes learning. [Read more…]