Pearson’s ‘digital first’ announcement: A legal perspective

Interpreting, Adapting, and Amending Textbook Publishing Contracts in a Changing Publishing World

In announcing its new strategic commitment to digital courseware and its dramatic break from the traditional model of successive print editions of textbooks, Pearson addressed a letter “to our author community.” In the letter, Pearson emphasized its ties to “our authors and partners” and declared that “together we can provide updates, enhancements, and digital functionality to respond more quickly to changing customer expectations, demands, curricular shifts and developments in your field.”

One thing that Pearson did not address in its letter to its authors is how it proposed to interpret or change existing publishing contracts in order to be able to go forward in a “digital first” world. It’s what the contracts say that counts, and many of these contracts are very difficult to apply in the changing publishing world.   [Read more…]

Pearson announces move to digital-first

Pearson, one of the world’s largest educational publishers, recently announced that all of its U.S. higher ed titles will be released in digital-first format. The announcement comes as Pearson takes steps to regain profitability in a market that has become increasingly price sensitive.

For Pearson, digital-first is a departure from the traditional publishing model in which final drafts are handed off to a compositor who lays out pages that are then sent to be printed. Once a print edition is produced, a second production process swings into gear to create a digital book, either by outputting to PDF format or by transforming text and media into a digital format that is uploaded to a cloud-based learning platform. [Read more…]

Three author takeaways from the ‘equitable access’ course distribution model

equitable access textbook modelAn emerging new model for distributing course materials called “equitable access” is the topic of a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. With equitable access, all students pay a flat fee per semester or quarter that covers all required textbooks, regardless of the courses they take. The model is similar to the “activity fee” collected by some colleges, which provides students access to all on-campus sporting and concert events. Such fees often are tiered, depending on whether the student is part-time or full-time. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 5): Key to textbook longevity, preparing for the next edition

TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses we decided to create a six-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. The third installment focused on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. The fourth installment focused on what they wish they had known before they started, and advice for other authors.

This fifth, and final, installment in the five-part series focuses on the more veteran authors, who share the key to their textbook’s longevity, what they have learned over the years, and their approach to preparing for a new edition. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice

TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses we decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. The third installment focused on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book.

This fourth installment in the five-part series focuses on what they wish they had known before they started, and advice for other authors. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Pedagogy and marketing involvement

TAA Textbook AwardsA few weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses I decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got started. The second installment focused on what they do to boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use.

This third installment in the five-part series focuses on which pedagogical elements in their textbook they are most proud of, and what involvement they have had in marketing their book. [Read more…]

Cengage authors begin to receive royalty statements under Cengage Unlimited plan

CU LetterWhile some Cengage authors are still waiting for their first royalty statements under the company’s new Cengage Unlimited plan, which, launched in August 2018, offers students access to its database of textbooks and other online content for a flat fee, several have received their statements and shared how the new plan has affected their royalties.

TAA President and Cengage author Mike Kennamer said royalties from CU were included on the most recent statement for one of his three Cengage titles. “The royalties generated from CU, for me, were insignificant and overall sales are down significantly,” he said. “I plan to reach out to Cengage’s Author Relations team to ask for help in interpreting my statement, which is less than clear.” More than three weeks later, he said, he is still waiting for a response. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 2): Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software

TAA Textbook AwardsA couple of weeks ago, we reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about their textbook writing. We had so many great responses we decided to create a five-part series to share them. The first installment focused on why they decided to write their textbook and how they got started.

This second installment in the five-part series focuses on how they boost their confidence as a writer, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and what software they use. [Read more…]

2019 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher

TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about how they made the decision to write their textbook, how they interested a publisher, what they do to boost their writing confidence, how they fit writing time into their schedule, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This first installment of the five-part series focuses on why they decided to write their textbook, and how they got the interest of a publisher. [Read more…]

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…]