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Reflecting on #TAAConf2019

It’s hard to believe that the 32nd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference – #TAAConf2019 – has come and gone. If you were with us in Old City, Philadelphia, I’m sure you heard the sentiment expressed more than once – “this might be the best TAA conference yet.” Having been in attendance for the last five, I can certainly say, for me, that it’s been the best of those. When a day at work hardly feel like work, it’s a good day. Add to that day more than 100 passionate and encouraging colleagues, and it’s a great day! That’s what my two days of “work” this weekend felt like. For those of you in attendance, please feel free to add your experiences to the comments below. For those of you who weren’t able to join us this year, here’s a little of what you missed at #TAAConf2019.

Networking from start to finish

Thursday night, the conference unofficially started with a wonderful crowd for the networking reception. Long after the drinks and food service ended, members gathered in the ballrooms sharing ideas with colleagues new and old. The same held true on Friday night when the celebration of the award recipients moved down the hall following the official ceremony. Throughout the days and evenings, especially at mealtimes, conference-goers shared conversation and laughs on the streets of Philadelphia. Open-air seating at many of the area restaurants and beautiful weather made Market Street a great place to extend the conference beyond the session rooms.

Relevant and timely topics of discussion

Inside the session rooms, however, there was plenty of great topics for discussion and presenters that masterfully led them with relevant and timely information on legal issues, writing strategies, collaboration, marketing, scholarly productivity, OER, and more. Full of enthusiastic learners, the most difficult thing was often choosing which session to attend.

A celebration of award-winning authors

During the Friday night Textbook Awards Ceremony, we celebrated the accomplishments of the authors and publishing teams for 31 award-winning textbooks. In attendance were representatives of twenty-five of those titles, including Massimo Guiggiani, author of The Science of Vehicle Dynamics: Handling, Braking, and Ride of Road and Race Cars, 2nd ed. who joined us from Pisa, Italy and David Ming, first author of Attainable Region Theory: An Introduction to Choosing an Optimal Reactor, 1st ed. attending from Melbourne, Australia for the event.

During the final breakout session of the event, Al Trujillo and Dave Dillon hosted a panel of award-winning authors to share some of the features of their winning titles, including Frank Carrano and Timothy Henry, authors of Data Structures and Abstractions with Java, 5th ed.

Conference extras

Once again, Bekky Murphy brought her photography skills to the conference providing free professional headshots to the attendees. Dressed to impress, many of the conferencegoers lined up for this special TAA conference exclusive.

Additionally, ten mentors shared their time and talents in fifteen-minute one-on-one mentoring sessions with attendees. Special thanks to our conference mentors: John Bond, Steve Gillen, Erin McTigue, Felicia Moore Mensah, Katy Peplin, Zick Rubin, Juli Saitz, Dannelle Stevens, Mike Sullivan, and Brenda Ulrich.

2019 Conference mentors

A number of firsts, in the City of Firsts

During her session, Erin McTigue shared her word of the year with the group, Kaizen, which translates to “change for the good”. Specifically, she notes that these should be small steps, not big leaps.

For a large number of first-time attendees, attending the conference was hopefully a small step toward greater success as an author. I spoke directly with two individuals who came to the conference with not much more than an idea for a book and a dream of writing it and seem to have left with greater clarity and direction as a result of the small step of showing up. Throughout the conference ten of the Most Promising New textbooks were on display with the other award-winning books. These titles represent first-edition textbooks that demonstrate excellence in their disciplines. Finally, we introduced two contests into this year’s event, the “TAA Conference Twitter Challenge” and “Conference Connections” contests. We were pleased that many in attendance, like Danielle Apfelbaum, accepted the challenge!

The overall success of our annual conference is greatly due to the support of our sponsors. We certainly appreciate the support and participation of Ankura Consulting GroupNational Center for Faculty Development & Diversity (NCFDD), Pearson,  Copyright Clearance Center, Archstone Law Group P.C., and SAGE Publishing. And as outgoing TAA President, Mike Kennamer said, “We could do this without the members in attendance, but it would be a lot less fun.” So, we hope that you will mark your calendar to join us in sunny San Diego from June 12-13, 2020. If you’d like to present, the call for proposals is now open!

Eric Schmieder

Eric Schmieder is the Membership Marketing Manager for TAA. He has taught computer technology concepts to curriculum, continuing education, and corporate training students since 2001. A lifelong learner, teacher, and textbook author, Eric seeks to use technology in ways that improve results in his daily processes and in the lives of those he serves. His latest textbook, Web, Database, and Programming: A foundational approach to data-driven application development using HTML, CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, MySQL, and PHP, First Edition, is available now through Sentia Publishing.