Pedagogy Corner: Placement matters! Textbook art placement

Multimedia Principles - Peach diagramWhen your textbook moves from the manuscript phase to the production phase, your publisher’s composition team might have different ideas about where your figures and photos should be placed than what you had envisioned. What can you do (besides get angry) when your callout appears at the bottom of page 37 and the figure doesn’t appear until the bottom of page 38 after a page turn? Justify your requests with research! According to the Multimedia Principle, people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone. For authors interested in the wealth of research that supports this, I highly recommend Richard Mayer’s book, Multimedia Learning, published by Cambridge University Press (2009). [Read more…]

Write to reach your true audience

In writing, your voice is the way you “speak” to your audience, and it includes your word choices, your “tone” of voice, and what you intentionally or unintentionally reveal about yourself. Style is the way you use words to express yourself in writing. A second meaning of style is the system of conventions you adopt to format your writing for your subject area, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), Modern Language Association (MLA), Council of Biology Editors (CBE), or The Chicago Manual of Style (Chicago style). Voice and style are important matters in textbook publishing. By themselves, your voice and writing style can make or break your book. Making decisions about voice and style involves reflecting on your mission, understanding your audience, choosing how you will represent yourself and your subject, and monitoring your tone. [Read more…]

10 Classic and contemporary textbook features you may not be thinking about…but should

highlighted textbookDuring his 2019 TAA Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “Textbook Features You May Not Be Thinking About… But Should!”, veteran textbook author Kevin Patton shared details about both classic – not “old” – and contemporary textbook features for consideration when designing a learning experience for your readers.

Starting with an exploration of the textbook as part of a learning experience for the student, Patton advised looking at the pain points, how they can be addressed, and what already works in the classroom. From there, it’s a matter of finding the right design elements to deliver the content in a meaningful way for the students using your book. Below are ten features for consideration. [Read more…]

Busy TAA People: Dave Dillon awarded Open Textbook Award

Blueprint for Success in College and CareerDave DillonTAA member Dave Dillon has been awarded the Open Textbook Award for Excellence by the Open Education Consortium for his textbook, Blueprint for Success in College and Career. The book is designed to show how to be successful in college and career preparation, and focuses on study skills, time management, career exploration, health, and financial literacy.

The Open Textbook Award for Excellence is presented to high-quality innovative teaching and learning materials openly available online for everyone to use, reuse, revise, remix and redistribute.

The award is selected by the OE Awards Committee to recognize truly exceptional work in Open Education. “We applaud your dedication to openness, access, high quality and innovation shown by your work and vision,” said Marcela Morales, Director of Community Relations for the Open Education Consortium. [Read more…]

Free Download – Textbook Award-Winning Insight

Textbook Award Winning InsightSeveral winners of the 2019 TAA Textbook Awards shared insight into the writing and publishing of their award-winning textbooks, which we have compiled into this free ebook download, “Textbook Award-Winning Insight”. Topics include:

  • Deciding to write and getting the interest of a publisher
  • Boosting writing confidence, scheduling writing time, software
  • Pedagogy and marketing involvement
  • What they wish they had known before they started, writing advice
  • Key to textbook longevity, preparing for the next edition

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Nominations for the 2020 Textbook Awards now open

2017 TAA Textbook AwardsNominations for the 2020 Textbook Excellence Award (“Texty”), McGuffey Longevity Award (“McGuffey”), and Most Promising New Textbook Award, will be open September 1 to November 1.

For more than 20 years, TAA has supported textbook and academic authors through these highly-recognized awards, given annually to emerging and veteran published authors in eight subject categories. [Read more…]

MindTap and Cengage Unlimited under fire from two new class action lawsuits

On August 12, 2019 the law firm of Susman Godfrey LLC filed a class action lawsuit against Cengage Learning on behalf of Douglas Bernstein and four other authors. Three days later, a similar suit was filed by Slarskey LLC on behalf of Grafton H. Hull.

Both cases reflect elements of a 2018 lawsuit against Cengage Learning by authors David Knox and Caroline Schacht, which was handled by Slarskey’s firm. At issue in all of these cases are Cengage’s emerging publishing practices and royalty calculations associated with its digital MindTap platform and the Cengage Unlimited subscription service. [Read more…]

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…]