Success, secrets, and finding our way! The inside story of TAA authors’ development

TAA authors' development processHow do TAA authors find their way through a complex and ever-changing maze of writing and publishing? In April 2018, we asked TAA authors, via an online survey and follow-up interviews, to share their experiences in writing and publishing. From 139 survey responses and 12 interviews, we gained rich and insightful descriptions of TAA authors’ writing and publishing journey. We learned about: pitfalls and challenges that can be avoided as authors write and publish books, what authors wish they had known before beginning the book-writing process, and the top three strategies TAA authors leveraged to improve their skills.

To share TAA authors’ experiences and wisdom with you, this blog post reveals some of their pitfalls, lessons, and strategies for writing and publishing textbooks and academic books. [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 move to ‘digital first’: Perspective from a key Pearson executive (Part II)

On July 24th, I had the opportunity to interview Paul Corey of Pearson by phone for about an hour regarding the recent announcement that Pearson will move to a digital first strategy for its textbook business. Paul is the Senior VP of Global Content Strategy for Pearson, and thus plays a key role in developing and implementing plans like the digital first strategy. Paul also has primary responsibility for Pearson’s relationships with authors, so I was especially appreciative of the chance to hear his thoughts on how the new direction might affect authors.*

To begin the second part of our dialogue I asked Paul whether Pearson’s intention is to continue selling “one textbook to one student for a particular course, whether in digital form or print or some combination…or do you expect to see more aggregate sales where a single student gets access to a large body of content.” [Read more…]

Pearson’s move to ‘digital first’: Perspective from a key Pearson executive (Part I)

On July 24th, I had the opportunity to interview Paul Corey of Pearson by phone for about an hour regarding the recent announcement that Pearson will move to a digital first strategy for its textbook business. Paul is the Senior VP of Global Content Strategy for Pearson, and thus plays a key role in developing and implementing plans like the digital first strategy. Paul also has primary responsibility for Pearson’s relationships with authors, so I was especially appreciative of the chance to hear his thoughts on how the new direction might affect authors.*

I started the conversation by asking Paul about the principal reason for Pearson to shift its focus to a digital-first strategy. He responded with three specific rationales for the move, not necessarily in order of importance: [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…]

Can my publisher really do that? Common author questions and answers from industry pros

textbooksAt TAA’s 2019 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference, industry insider Sean Wakely and royalty auditor Juli Saitz addressed some common questions authors have about what prerogatives publishers have in respect to publication decisions, calculating royalty payments, marketing, and rights, with hypothetical examples from their point of view.

Here are the questions and answers from that session, divided into five parts: [Read more…]

Textbook publisher mergers and acquisitions: What authors need to know

mergers and acquisitionsIf you’ve been published (or simply signed, for that matter) by a US publisher in the last dozen years, there is a fair to excellent chance that the master to whom you are now answering is not the master to whom you indentured yourself when you signed your original publishing contract. Among the larger transactions: [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 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…]