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Q&A: What are some of the rewards of textbook writing?

Q: “What are some of the rewards of textbook writing?”

A: Erin C. Amerman, author of Exploring Anatomy & Physiology in the Laboratory, 1e (2010):

“Authoring a textbook from scratch is, naturally, an incredibly laborious process. It means often working 80-hour work weeks, giving up weekends, and facing occasional scathing comments from one’s peers. For me, it also meant that my daughter’s first intelligible sentence was, ‘Mommy, work, book.’ Without a doubt, textbook authoring demands sacrifices. Given all of this, one may wonder why anyone ever bothers to undertake such a massive task. The answer lies in the many rewards of textbook writing. In my opinion, the biggest such reward is the ability to create something brand new, something that will enhance the learning experience of students and make a positive impact on their education. As professors, we all have the opportunity to touch our students’ lives, but textbook authoring offers one the opportunity to do this on a much grander scale.”

A: William Briggs, coauthor of Calculus: Early Transcendentals, 1e (2010):

“My passion is teaching and I have always seen writing as another dimension of teaching. Like teaching, writing is a way to communicate (often complex) ideas and make them understandable for students. Because teaching and writing are so closely intertwined, I find textbook writing just as rewarding as teaching.”

A: Jerry Wilson, coauthor of An Introduction to Physical Science, 12e (2009):

“Of course there is the hoped-for pecuniary reward, but this is usually not the initial thought. (In writing a first edition of a textbook, one would do well not to compute one’s hourly rate of royalty compensation.) Instead, the initial motivation in writing a textbook is teaching – thinking you can get a subject across clearer or with a more interesting approach that would help student learning and understanding.

It is a reward to observe this directly. In my academic career, I have taught hundreds of students in physics and physical science. However, in my 40 years of writing, I consider it a reward to have indirectly taught thousands of students with my textbooks.”