Authors’ suit against Cengage hits snags

In October 2019, six authors, intending to form a class action together with other Cengage authors, filed a lawsuit against Cengage alleging that Cengage’s royalty accounting for proceeds from distribution of their products through the MindTap and Cengage Unlimited business models breached the publisher’s royalty arrangements with authors. In addition to the breach of contract claim, the authors alleged that Cengage acted in bad faith towards authors regarding the two products. Before a trial could get underway, Cengage responded by asking for all counts to be dismissed, and that the attempt to form a class action be denied. [Read more…]

Most useful textbook and academic posts of the week: August 28, 2020

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” ~Virginia WoolfVirginia Woolf once said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.” Our collection of articles from around the web this week addresses issues with exposing those secrets of our souls through published work now and in the future.

Specifically, we begin with moving past the fear of having our work read, following basic rules for writing research papers, revising to remove evidence of our secret self-doubt, and topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communications. We then explore how blogging can enhance student engagement, a new way to access higher education textbooks, sustainable open access models, and the publishing trends for late 2020 and beyond.

It’s important that the secrets written on your soul are shared through your written work. Challenge yourself to share more of yourself in your writing this week. Happy writing!

Afraid to let anyone read your writing? 5 Steps to move past fears

One of the best things about writing is being read. Unfortunately, that can also be one of the scariest things. When you’re just starting out, it can feel like a huge jump to let someone else read your story for the first time. It feels like another jump to move past the eyes of kindly family and friends to asking strangers to read and (gulp) comment on your writing. And even if you’ve been writing and publishing for many years, there may still be days when you’re afraid to let anyone read your writing.

Basic rules to follow when writing a research paper

You can never overstate the significance of being able to write well. A productive investigator or researcher will always be able to write solid papers when it comes to writing a research paper. Writing a research paper has a life cycle, and when you follow the same, no one can stop you from achieving the degree.

Revision – writing without protection

Academic writers need to let their readers know that they know what they are talking about. But feeling and talking like an expert is not easy – in fact, it’s often the exact opposite of how you think about yourself. So it’s helpful to be able to pick up the places in your writing where your text gives away your secret self-doubt.

Driving gender diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarly communications: The power of an active ERG

How many of us know what ‘ERG’ stands for? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. An Employee Resource Group is a volunteer group of like-minded colleagues who come together to create positive change for their wider workplace community. These groups are not to be underestimated — in fact, they should be celebrated and promoted within organizations because they add tremendous value, and increase the organization’s value proposition for attracting, keeping, and developing talent.

How can blogging enhance student engagement?

A perennial issue in higher education is how to encourage students to engage with the material they are learning about. Biggs and Tang tell us that assessment is the key driver of engagement, with its structure and content shaping everything that a student does to achieve the learning outcomes of a course. But are the tried and tested methods of written examinations, essays, laboratory reports, group projects and so on really the most engaging forms of assessment for students? Or are digital technologies, and the movement towards more reflective forms of writing, opening up the whole dynamic of the assessment process and the ways in which students engage with it to radical change?

Cambridge University Press launches new website for its higher education textbooks

This new site, and our business models, have been shaped by extensive feedback from students, their instructors and librarians. As a result, it gives higher education institutions a much easier way to provide their students with online access to our textbooks and gives students themselves a much better reading and studying experience.

Sustainable open access – What’s next?

As more publishers consider this model, it seems like a good time to dive a little deeper into collective action models and Subscribe to Open in academic publishing and also to consider why interest in these models might be accelerating.

Predictions for publishing trends in late 2020 and beyond

If there’s one thing 2020 has shown us, it’s that our lives are not nearly as predictable as we like to think. This isn’t exactly a new revelation — the best-laid plans of mice and men, etc. — but it’s one that brings fresh perspective and humility to all our forecasts now, whether in regards to the weather, the government, or the state of the publishing industry.

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 5): Longevity

McGuffey Longevity Award WinnerWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This final installment of the five-part series focuses on achieving long-term success for a manuscript. [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 4): Co-authoring

Textbook Excellence Award WinnerWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This fourth installment of the five-part series focuses on working with co-authors. [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 3): Contracts, editing, and marketing

Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, and more. We will be sharing their answers in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

This third installment of the five-part series focuses on textbook contracts, working with editors, and marketing strategies. [Read more…]

2020 Textbook award-winning insight (Part 1): Purpose, timeline, and results

TAA Textbook AwardsWe recently reached out to winners of the 2020 TAA Textbook Awards and asked them to answer some questions about why they made the decision to write their textbook, strategies they used for successful writing, advice on contracts, editing, marketing, co-authoring, 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 the authors decided to write their textbook, how long it took to complete the process, and the benefits and challenges of doing so. [Read more…]

Full results of TAA’s 2020 Textbook Contracts & Royalties Survey now available

Click to download PDF ebook

In a recent survey conducted by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA), 27% of respondents reported that their 2019 royalties were 25% or more lower than in recent years. Only 8% reported that their royalties were 25% or more higher than in recent years.

One survey respondent, who writes in the Business discipline for Cengage and has been authoring textbooks since 1985, said: “Cengage Unlimited has had a significant impact on our royalties. We were told that CU would capture more sales (at a lower price point). It has not happened; we are selling (marginally) fewer units, but at a much lower price point.” The highest royalty rate this respondent had negotiated for both their print and digital textbooks was 20% and the lowest was 15%. They also reported their 2019 royalties were between 10% and 25% lower than recent years. [Read more…]

TAA announces 2020 Textbook Award winners

2020 Award WinnersTwenty-nine textbooks have been awarded 2020 Textbook Awards by the Textbook & Academic Authors Association (TAA). Seven textbooks received William Holmes McGuffey Longevity Awards, 14 textbooks received Textbook Excellence Awards, and eight textbooks received Most Promising New Textbook Awards.

The McGuffey Longevity Award recognizes textbooks and learning materials whose excellence has been demonstrated over time. The Textbook Excellence Award recognizes excellence in current textbooks and learning materials. The Most Promising New Textbook Award recognizes excellence in 1st edition textbooks and learning materials.

The awards will be presented during an awards reception at TAA’s 33rd Annual Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference in San Diego, CA, June 12, 2020. [Read more…]

The textbook report 2019

The Textbook Report 2019As we near the end of the decade, textbook authors face a myriad of changes in industry structure and public perception reflected and fueled by the headlines in the news. In her annual textbook report, veteran author June Jamrich Parsons shared some of those headlines and the details behind them with attendees at her 2019 conference session in Philadelphia, PA.

Below is a summary of her presentation, including key takeaways about industry profitability, textbook prices, publishing formats, and instructor perceptions. [Read more…]

Preparing for ripples, waves, and tsunamis in textbook and academic publishing

wavesRecently, we’ve seen shifts from print to digital, the rise of open educational resources and open-access journals, the consolidation of large publishers into mega-publishers, fundamental changes in how authors are compensated, and other significant changes to the nature of authoring. As we wait to see which of the ripples coming over the horizon dissipate and which become large—perhaps overwhelming—waves, what can we authors do to remain afloat?

Three main strategies can help academic and textbook authors continue to succeed as changes in textbooks, journals, or scholarly publications come along: vigilance, honing core skills, and agility. [Read more…]