What do modern students want in a textbook? Writers want to know.

tablet with ebook in front of stack of print booksI was intrigued by an article in Research Information, a newsletter for libraries and publishers. “The rise and rise of e-reading” discussed the growth in electronic textbooks and articles. As a writer I have been intrigued by the potential for embedding interactive components and live links in texts, but disappointed to find that such materials are more typically relegated to a companion website. In my previous faculty role, I noticed a gap between the university’s enthusiasm for adopting e-books, and my students’ preference for paper textbooks. As a reader, I prefer e-books when I read for enjoyment, but usually like paper when I am working with textbooks. I thought I’d dig a bit more, and share what I discover with you, my fellow writers.

What did publishers say in “The rise and rise of e-reading”? [Read more…]

E-books, digital rights management, and the first-sale doctrine

There has been much buzz over the last couple of decades about the future of the textbook. Will print books continue to dominate? Will book rentals take a more prominent role? Will the market shift to e-books or to subscription-based access to cloud stored content or to more complex adaptive learning systems? Or will proprietary publishing fade to black as Open Education Resources improve in quality and increase in number? [Read more…]

Why you should be incorporating gamification into textbook exercises

Chess board Let’s play a game! After all, who doesn’t love a good game? Already your mind is excited to see what comes next. Eager to learn more. Ready for active participation. Primed to learn.

Isn’t that EXACTLY what you want from your students?

[Read more…]

Why print is still winning

w-onlinereading0221The debate about digital textbooks (etextbooks) and whether they will replace their physical counterparts continues this week with recent findings from the University of Washington. Their study showed that roughly 25% of students who were given free versions of etextbooks still purchased a physical copy of the same book.

“These are people who aren’t supposed to remember what it’s like to even smell books,” said Naomi S. Baron, an American University linguist who studies digital communication. “It’s quite astounding.”

Another survey done by Student Monitor found that 87% of college students purchased their textbooks as physical books, not etextbooks. Moreover, as mentioned in this Washington Post piece, “Textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer [Read more…]

Amazon offers new tool for creating etextbooks, Kindle Textbook Creator

etextbooksAmazon has a new tool, Kindle Textbook Creator, to help educators and authors prepare, publish, and promote etextbooks and other educational content that can be accessed on Fire tablets, iPad, iPhone, Android smartphones and tablets, Mac, and PC.

Kindle Textbook Creator, offered through the new KDP EDU segment of Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, can be used to turn PDFs of textbooks and course materials into Kindle books and upload them to KDP in just a few simple steps. [Read more…]

Does ‘first sale’ mean fewer sales?

copyrightSoon after the Supreme Court’s decision this past spring in Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, a story in The New York Times gave voice to a widespread concern that a doctrine called “first sale” would soon swallow up a U.S. copyright owner’s right to control and limit importation and redistribution of not only textbooks intended for foreign markets but also of e-books not intended for lending (library or personal).

The Kirtsaeng case turned on a contest for priority between apparently conflicting provisions in the Copyright Act – one setting out the “first sale” doctrine and the other dealing with a copyright owner’s right to control importation of copies of their work. The Supreme Court tipped the scales in favor of first sale and interpreted the right to control importation as essentially non-existent for all practical purposes.1 [Read more…]

Digital textbooks and pedagogy: An interview with June Parsons & Dan Oja

Dan Oja and June ParsonsComputer ConceptsDigital book pioneers June Parsons and Dan Oja co-developed the first commercially successful multimedia, interactive digital textbook; one that set the bar for platforms now being developed by educational publishers.

The coauthors began writing and creating educational software for Course Technology in 1992 and between them have authored more than 150 college computer textbooks. They currently have several digital textbooks in print, including the best-selling New Perspectives on Computer Concepts.

Parsons has a doctorate in instructional technology and has taught at the university level for more than 20 years. Oja is an experienced programmer. He developed BookOnPublish, a software tool for assembling and publishing multimedia digital books.

Here Parsons and Oja talk to TAA about digital textbooks and pedagogy: [Read more…]

Attorney advises textbook authors on e-rights

Michael Lennie, an authoring attorney and agent for Lennie ebook tablet on bookshelfLiterary & Author’s Attorneys, compared the items on a publishing contract to a bunch of asparagus and said authors can either give all their rights away in one bunch, or negotiate them one by one.

“Electronic rights is just one of those spears of asparagus,” he said. “And on that one spear are many different e-rights elements. The author is in the enviable position of owning all of those spears.” The publisher, said Lennie, will want them all, and the author has to decide whether to give those rights to the publisher or retain them. If your publisher wants all of your e-rights, he said, here are a few things to consider: What has the publisher done with e-rights in the past? Do they have the technical expertise to do it or will they license those rights to a third party? “The publisher may give you 50 percent of the rights of third party sales, but that may only be seven percent of the publisher’s 15 percent from the licensed third party,” he said. [Read more…]