Royalty payment class actions: Opt-in? Opt-out? How does it affect me?

In recent years multiple class action lawsuits have been filed against the biggest textbook publishers, challenging their royalty-payment practices. In 2016, it was a suit against Pearson, alleging (among other things) gray market sales to international subsidiaries, paying lower international royalty rates, and then shipping books back into the U.S. for retail sales.1 More recently, there have been suits against Cengage, challenging “Cengage Unlimited,” Cengage’s all-access, Netflix-like subscription model.2 McGraw-Hill was also sued, in January, for improper royalty payment practices on its “Connect” products.3

In each of these cases, plaintiffs have purported to file class action lawsuits, where the plaintiffs and their counsel propose to litigate on behalf of all similarly-situated authors affected by the publisher’s practices. But for authors not directly involved in the litigation, the obvious question is “What’s in it for me?” Does the class action mechanism provide an acceptable format to protect your rights?

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2021 TAA Council Election Results Announced

Five TAA members have been elected to the TAA Council, the association’s governing board. Paul Krieger has been elected Vice President/President-Elect, Juli Saitz has been elected to a third term as Treasurer, and Brenda Ulrich has been elected to a second term as Secretary. Stacie Craft DeFreitas and Dione Taylor have been elected to Council positions.

Krieger, a retired professor of biology, is the author and illustrator of the four-book series, The Visual Analogy Guides. In his position statement, he said he intends to focus on three major goals as VP/President-Elect: (1) Help TAA remain true to its mission of supporting textbook and academic authors as it has done so impressively over the years; (2) Assist the recently established Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI) to achieve its goals; and (3) Explore new sources of revenue to keep TAA on solid financial ground in the future. Krieger will serve a two-year term as VP, a two-year term as President, and a two-year term as Past-President.

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Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: May 7, 2021

Academia serves a purpose of feeding the future, of taking minds with a limited set of knowledge and helping them realize that while they may have a perspective of vast understanding, the potential for growth and development of their understanding exists in a limitless amount of barren space. It is from this mindset that I believe C.S. Lewis claimed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.”

I have read that quote numerous times, and as an educator and author myself, taught and thought from the perspective that in a world of information overload, we are in a different era than Lewis and have a new responsibility of cutting down jungles to help our students see clearly. As I write this week’s article and review the resources shared below, I instead think that our job, particularly as textbook and academic authors, must be to take our readers to the edge of the jungle, show them the desert that exists beyond that edge, and then irrigate it so that the jungle of knowledge continues to expand even further for the next generation of students and educators.

As you write this week, I challenge you to find the edge of your field of knowledge, to irrigate your own deserted landscape of potential, and to find ways through your writing to bring others to that point. Happy writing!

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Why thank the editor?

Craving publication, we may view journal editors as the enemy, obstructing our fame, fortune, and at least one publication. And when the acceptance finally arrives (and with relentless perseverance, it will), we rejoice, send out email blasts to everyone we know, and reply to world-renowned conference directors with gracious replies. Before all this, though, we should do one thing that’s both considerate and diplomatic: thank the editor.

This action makes sense for several sound reasons:

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Your textbook isn’t being revised. Now what?

If your standard textbook revision cycle has come and gone, it doesn’t automatically mean that you aren’t being revised, and you can’t expect that your publisher will reach out to you either, so you’ll need to ask, says Donna Battista, vice president of content strategy for Top Hat.

“Get in touch with your publisher and just ask directly,” she says. “I think it’s always good practice to start from the perspective that everybody is going to work in good faith. Nobody wants to squat on your rights.”

Start with reviewing the revision clause in your contract to see what your options are, but if the publisher doesn’t plan for a new edition and you want to ask for your rights back it’s always best to ask for as much as possible, says Battista. “Know what you want to ask for, and then have an expectation that there are only certain things that they are required to release to you,” she says. The rights that will be returned to you are your intellectual property rights, or your content.

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Words matter: Guidelines for pronoun usage

There exists no attribute more central to the human condition than one’s identity. Our identity – whether it is cultural, professional, ethnic and national, religious, gender, or disability – is a central tenet of representation. It affects how we communicate with others and our communication about others. Thus, it is important that we as scholarly writers and professionals are as cognizant of the identities of our audience as we are of our own.

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Welcome new members to TAA: April 2021

With membership in TAA, you are not alone. You become part of a diverse community of textbook and academic authors with similar interests and goals. We are pleased to announce the addition of 70 new TAA members who joined us in April 2021. 

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How to write a book proposal

You’ve found your dream publisher, and you’re ready to pitch your book. You just need to write a proposal that will convince them to publish it.

Just like journals, every press has their own guidelines for authors. Find it; it will tell you exactly what the editors want in a proposal. Most proposals ask for the same basic things, so in this article, we will review each and look at what the publisher expects to see in those sections.

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Get CCC Checks? Go Paperless

Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) pays royalties repatriated to the United States by foreign Reproduction Rights Organizations (RROs) for use of certain US published works. Authors of textbooks and scholarly publications who hold copyright to their works also receive royalties for various services offered by CCC.

If you receive royalty payments from Copyright Clearance Center for use of copyrighted work(s) in the US and abroad, you should know that CCC will make future royalty payments electronically.

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SOTA celebrates 20 years of legacy, scholarship and sisterhood

TAA congratulates Sisters of the Academy Institute (SOTA) on its 20th Anniversary!

Founded in 2001, SOTA’s mission is to facilitate the success of Black women in the Academy. Specifically, the organization aims to create an educational network of Black women in higher education in order to foster success in the areas of teaching, scholarly inquiry, and service to the community; facilitate collaborative scholarship among Black women in higher education; and facilitate the development of relationships to enhance members’ professional development.

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