Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: August 2, 2019

“Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” ~ Roy T. BennettLet me warn you. This week’s collection of posts from around the web has several topics that may not be comfortable for textbook and academic authors. We begin with articles challenging the status quo for academic bios, the value of disability inclusion in the publishing industry, and the approach you take to turn your PhD into a book. More hot topic industry changes, specifically in light of recent announcements of Pearson’s “digital first” initiative and the Cengage-McGraw-Hill merger, also make this week’s list.

The changes to the publishing industry are not new, but in the recent months seem to be coming at a faster pace with greater impact to authors. That said, as you review the articles linked below, remember the wisdom of Roy T. Bennett who said, “Great things don’t come from comfort zones.” In the coming week, I encourage you to reach beyond your comfort zone in your pursuit of greatness. Happy writing!

Where I stand: Rewriting the academic bio

When you look at it, my academic bio says very little about me. Although it obliquely speaks to some episodes in my life that were hugely important to me (my time at Oxford for example), it says little about where I come from and the forces and belongings that fashioned me. It does not reveal my values, my obligations or my commitments, and it speaks in only the most minimal terms about where I live, why I do what I do, and how that is connected to the community in which I make my home. The only thing to which it holds me accountable is the world of trans-local expertise and the institutions that retail in it.

The problem solvers you don’t know about yet: Valuing disability in the publishing industry

Let’s get right down to it. This post is about increasing disability inclusion in the publishing industry. It’s about highlighting the qualities that people with disabilities bring to the workplace. It’s about showing that employing people with disabilities gives organizations a competitive advantage, rather than just being the ‘right thing to do’. It’s about ensuring that the next time a candidate with a disability enters an interview room, the hiring manager sees the value of their skills and experience for the organization, rather than seeing only potential limitations and shortcomings.

Keep the quirky bits! Turning your PhD into a best selling book

We must stop worrying what other academics will think and write for the general public once we have that title and bit of paper, if not before. Some of the most valuable moments of your research will never make it into your thesis and have no place in academic journal. Those quirky bits, the things that you laugh about over coffee, are the gold that makes you human rather than an automated wordsmith.

Will e-books feed university presses – or eat them? Part one

What roles are e-books now playing, and what roles will they play, in scholarly disciplines for which books are a primary, often the apex, scholarly form? This is the first of two posts about e-book publishing and university presses. I’ll lay out here some of the basics, and next week I’ll be joined by Lisa Bayer, Director of the University of Georgia Press and John Sherer, Spangler Family Director of the University of North Carolina Press, for a closer look at how these issues and more are playing out at their presses, and what they see for the future of university press e-books.

Digital content vs. digital access

Recent publisher announcements promoting going digital or digital first strategies may actually disadvantage large numbers students who are the intended beneficiaries of these initiatives.

Pearson goes ‘digital-first’ in college. What does that mean for K-12?

What might this mean for K-12 publishers? For answers, EdWeek Market Brief turned to Jay Diskey, a consultant who is the former executive director of the Association of American Publishers’ PreK-12 Learning Group. Diskey now works with both K-12 and higher education companies, as well as associations and organizations on policy and communications.

Pushback against Cengage and McGraw-Hill merger: What is at stake and what comes next?

A group of nearly 100 different student representatives, organizations, and institutions have signed a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking that they block the proposed merger between education publishers Cengage and McGraw-Hill. The letter was released on U.S. Public Independent Research Group’s (PIRG’s) site on July 29.

Publishing company Wiley acquires zyBooks

Since 2012, zyBooks have provided courseware to more than 500,000 students at over 600 universities. Using zyBooks boosts test scores, student engagement, and the success rate of initially weaker learners. Earlier this month, John Wiley & Sons Inc., one of the world’s foremost textbook publishers, acquired Zyante Inc. for $56 million.