How to reimagine and redesign textbooks to reach and engage students

elearningAre textbooks merging with online courses? Will textbook content increasingly be delivered in the form of digital modules that can be integrated into course learning systems? What does this mean for textbook authors and editors? How should textbook content be designed to work best in online learning environments?

Since 2009, I have been working in dual roles, and I’ve witnessed a transition that has moved faster than anyone anticipated. As a long-time development editor, and now author, in the textbook industry, I have watched a rapid transition from print to digital publishing models. Most of the major commercial textbook publishers have passed the point at which more than half of their sales revenue is coming from digital products. By no means is print dead when it comes to textbooks, but print texts certainly inhabit a changed landscape. [Read more…]

Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, I reached out to winners of the 2017 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. I had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.

This third installment in the five-part series focuses which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read more…]

Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsA couple of weeks ago, I reached out to winners of the 2017 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. I had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook and how they got started.

This second installment in the five-part series focuses on how they boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. [Read more…]

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

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsI recently reached out to winners of the 2017 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. I will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

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

Textbook development tip: Aim for good expository writing

Write wellThe best way to ensure clarity is to write well. When editors mark passages “Not Clear,” they are not being stupid but are basing their judgments both on the perceived needs of your target audience and on standards of good expository writing. All good writing for any audience at any educational level has the same basic qualities, including clarity, concision, unity, coherence, and emphasis. Wordiness is perhaps the greatest enemy of good writing. [Read more…]

Bringing textbooks to life: Strategies for improving student engagement

Educator, editor and author Michael Greer, of Development by Design, shares his philosophy behind, and strategies for, developing textbooks that enhance student engagement and learning.

TAA: As an educator, editor, and author, you are passionate about bringing textbooks to life to provide more effective and engaging student learning experiences. What inspired you to analyze and rethink content delivery for textbooks and other course materials? [Read more…]

Join us 3/22 for the TAA webinar, ‘Author Q&A: Writing and Developing Your College Textbook’

Stephen GillenSean WakelyMary Ellen LepionkaJoin us Wednesday, March 22 at 3-4 p.m. ET, for the TAA webinar, Author Q&A: Writing and Developing Your College Textbook. The authors of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook will share insights into the higher education publishing industry, textbook contract negotiation, and textbook development. Learn the two-three key trends in the higher education publishing industry about which an author or prospective author should know; [Read more…]

Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants

Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsStephen GillenAn advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not uncommon for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.

A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected. [Read more…]

Speaker spotlight: Rubin, Ulrich, and Wakely to speak at TAA’s 2017 Academic Authoring Conference

Sean WakelyPublishing attorneys Zick Rubin and Brenda Ulrich, and publishing industry expert Sean Wakely, will present “The Life Cycle of a Textbook: Psychological and Legal Challenges,” at TAA’s 30th Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in Providence, Rhode Island, June 9-10, 2017. The panel will discuss the psychological and legal issues that should be addressed at different states of a textbook’s life cycle, and what pitfalls should be avoided.  [Read more…]

Developing a mobile textbook: A case study in collaborative authoring

Mobile textbookFor the past two years, I have been exploring ways to make educational materials accessible to students on mobile phones. In my online courses, for example, I have moved away from Blackboard, which is not well designed for mobile users. Much of my course content now lives instead on websites I have built with Weebly or Google Sites. These platforms provide responsive templates that work well for students on any size screen. While grades, administrative announcements, and discussions still take place on Blackboard (which is institutionally mandated and required for FERPA compliance), the majority of the text, audio, and video content for the courses is now housed on fully responsive sites outside of the LMS. Students can access the course materials from their phones at any time, without needing to log in to the cumbersome LMS system. More than half of my students now report that they do most of their course reading on their phones. [Read more…]