The prelude: Preparing to write a scholarly textbook

Many think about writing a scholarly textbook years before actually picking up the pen to do so. That prelude is like musicians tuning up before a performance. It is an investment of time that is as critical to finishing a book as to beginning it. For a writer, the prelude is a time to organize notes and references. To draft and redraft a table of contents. To organize notes. To connect with potential editors. To investigate potential audiences and find colleagues who would consider adapting it in their teaching. The prelude contributes to the ease with which you can write the book and lays the foundation that there is an audience for it.

Check the Authors Coalition of America’s author list: You could be owed royalties

Authors Coalition of America, LLC, has identified a number of American authors who may be due royalty payments from non-U.S. sources. These royalties have been received to compensate authors for the foreign reprographic use of U.S. copyrighted materials.

While the majority of reprographic royalties distributed to ACA are the result of surveys and samplings in foreign countries done on a non-title specific basis, and therefore are remitted to organizations representing the categories of authors for whom the funds were collected (like TAA), ACA also receives royalties due individual authors from select countries that collect by title-specific methods.

Observations on teaching and textbook writing

During a career spanning several decades, I have often reflected on the relationship between teaching and textbook writing. Indeed, in my experience, every successful textbook author I have met or read about has always been a very accomplished—often a prize-winning—teacher. The reverse does not seem to be the case, however. I know of excellent teachers whose textbooks never gained traction. And there are thousands of great teachers who do not have the slightest interest in writing a textbook. (I too never aspired to textbook authorship until a publisher approached me about becoming the junior author of the leading introductory art history textbook. I eventually consented because I found enormously appealing the prospect of extending my teaching nationwide and reaching tens of thousands instead of hundreds of students every year.)

TAA raises the alarm on book banning

In recent years an alarming number of books are being banned in U.S. public school classrooms, libraries, or both.

PEN America’s Index of School Book Bans lists 2,532 instances of individual books being banned, affecting 1,648 unique book titles and 1,261 different authors in one year’s period (July 2021 to June 2022). The American Library Association (ALA) reports that this current trend in 2022 is the highest number of book challenges since the American Library Association began recording this data over 20 years ago. The subject matter of these banned books relates to content on race and racism, gender identities, and sexual content.

Textbooks as scholarship and agents of change

Virtually all faculty in academia, regardless of discipline and institution, are aware of the ongoing debate concerning “what counts” when considering criteria for raises, tenure, and promotion. In more than a few cases, the debate centers on whether textbooks are “real scholarship.” Alred and Thelen, in their 1993 paper outlined some of the common anti-text arguments. In our article in Kinesiology Review (Corbin, Yu, & Gill, 2022), we discuss textbooks as scholarship and address some of the anti-textbook arguments. In addition, we argue that textbooks are agents of change that have influenced both disciplinary and professional studies in academia.