ASJA opens two awards to the public
The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has opened The Arlenes: Books and Articles That Make a Difference and The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism to the public, marking a change from ASJA’s long-time policy of these monetary awards going exclusively to members.
“We are excited to be able to expand the pool of eligible work for recognition,” said Alexandra Owens, ASJA’s executive director. “Independent writing is the lifeblood of a free society, and in today’s media environment it’s more challenging than ever. These awards recognize the best work of freelance writers who dedicate themselves to truly making a difference with their work.”
The Arlenes are made possible by the Arlene Eisenberg Memorial Fund, which was established by ASJA member Howard Eisenberg, Arlene’s husband. Ms. Eisenberg wrote What to Expect When You’re Expecting, as well as other books affecting (and improving) the lives of parents worldwide. The awards are for freelance articles and/or trade books making a documented difference in society by inspiring readers to take action to make a positive change in the world around them.
The Arlene Article Award is presented annually for articles published within the last two years. This year the award will be given to articles published in 2009 or 2010.
The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism is funded by a bequest from Donald Robinson, third president of ASJA. This monetary award goes to a freelance-written article representing exceptional achievement in investigative journalism or exposé writing. Entries for 2011 award must have been published in 2010.
ASJA encourages freelancers—members and non-members alike—to submit their work for consideration if they feel it meets the criteria for one of the awards.
For complete details and submission instructions, visit http://www.asja.org/awards/awards.php. Submission deadline is January 7, 2011.
Usability studies in textbook design
Textbook editor and former English professor Michael Greer talks to the Copyright Clearance Center's Christopher Kenneally about his new book, Usability of Complex Information Systems, Evaluation of User Interaction, coauthored with Professor Tharon Howard of Clemson University. A podcast of the interview is available on CCC's Beyond the Book site.
Their account of textbook usability studies with contemporary college students reveals that "the conventions that teachers are familiar with are not familiar to students." Greer said: "We're in the midst of a fundamental transformation in the way people read. Students interact with websites, with apps, with various kinds of information products that are both like and unlike books. They're coming of age in a culture that is one of digital literacy, and we don't really know what that means. There is perhaps a fundamental disconnect between the literacy that their teachers practice in the classroom, and he literacy that those students have grown up with."
McGraw-Hill reports increases in third quarter el-hi, higher ed markets
McGraw-Hill attributes its strong third quarter performance partly to increases in the U.S. elementary high school and higher education markets and double-digit increases in the sales of digital products in higher education and professional markets.
Substantial orders from the adoption states with the biggest student enrollments -- Texas, California, and Florida -- contributed to thethird quarter increase. Texas, which did not adopt new materials in 2009, bought K-12 reading and literature in 2010. With its English- and Spanish-language Treasures programs, the McGraw-Hill School Education Groupexpects to capture about 39 percent of the K-5 reading market in Texas. In California, Treasures turned in a strong performance in the second year of that state's reading adoption, winning anestimated 50 percent of the K-5 readingopportunity.
In professional publishing, online sales of books and digital products produced solid growth in the third quarter. Double-digit e-book sales were a bright spot in the sluggish retail book market, which continues to be buffeted by difficult economic conditions. More than 5,000 McGraw-Hill professional titles are now available to customers as e-books.
Call for submissions to ‘Academic Exchange Quarterly’
Academic Exchange Quarterly is seeking submissions for its Fall 2011 issue. The issue theme is “Popular Culture’s Place in the English Composition Classroom.”
Often, the discussion regarding the use of popular culture in the classroom focuses on content-area courses. There are, however, myriad ways in which pop culture can be used to enhance students’ critical thinking and writing abilities within the structure of English composition courses. This issue of AEQ seeks submissions that discuss both the theoretical and practical uses of popular culture in the composition classroom, as well as ways in which pop culture can be integrated into composition assignment design.
Teachers, theorists and researchers interested in exploring the use of popular culture in the English composition classroom are encouraged to submit. Papers may discuss case studies, examine hands-on experiences of using pop culture in a composition course, explore the practical applications of using pop culture in lectures and assignment designs, or other aspects of the topic. Submissions should focus on the use of popular culture in composition courses only, not in content-area courses. Please identify your submission with keyword: CULTURE-10
The deadline for submissions is May 15, 2011. To view AEQ’s submission procedure, visit:
Exploring the next generation of content providers
Although university presses, commercial academic presses and textbook publishers still dominate the interaction between researchers, professors, authors and students, open-source and digital texts are entering the market as viable alternatives, changing our views of what constitutes a “book” and “publishing.”
One company, Words & Numbers (www.wordsandnumbers.com), has found a niche in this expanded market by serving as a resource to publishers, private and for-profit institutions, and technology partners in their efforts to develop open source and digital content.
“We see our company as a ‘next generation content provider’,” said Roland Elgey, senior director of business development. Whether it is a textbook with a heavy emphasis on ancillaries like online simulations and podcasts, online courses for for-profit colleges and institutions, or “true” e-books with audio, video, and interactivity, said Elgey, close to 75 percent of what they produce is either all digital or a print product with a heavy digital component.
Words & Numbers COO Phyllis Hillwig said that the shift to digital content can be a real boon for authors: “Today, authors and subject matter experts have a greater voice. It used to be—and to some degree still is—that publishers control the channels of communication. Now, it is much more transparent. The user is very exposed and connected to the curriculum provider or the curriculum.”
When professors create their own podcasts, lecture notes, or post sample lessons on shared forums, said Hillwig, they are taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to put their voice out there and see where it goes. “It’s really not that risky,” she said. “Plus, you’re able to create content that is different than in the past.”
Creating content differently is one significant change Hillwig sees in the “next generation” of publishing: “Think about something simple: say I want to learn how to tie my shoes. Do I look for that information in a big book about shoes at the library, or do I ask online ‘how do I tie my shoes?’ Things are getting more modular and granular because how we learn and process information is much more granular now. You have to design your materials in response to that.”
Instead of looking at a whole book, said Hillwig, many publishers are now looking at lessons as individual objects to be sliced, diced, and customized: “So when you’re creating the content, it has to be a lot more self-contained.” She encourages authors to remember that in the writing and creation process each lesson or activity should stand-alone, be self-sustaining, and address a discrete learning objective.
Even if academic publishing is plunging into a new era—Elgey said that the last 18 months have seen a significant rise in the desire of publishers to “go digital” in one form or another—publishers themselves aren’t about to go the way of the dodo bird.
“There’s absolutely still value in a publisher; they understand the market,” said Hillwig. “I could have the best ideas but if I can’t communicate and sell, they’re not going anywhere. The publisher has the experience both in identifying a market and finding the right voice for that market.”
One way authors can test the reception of their lessons, she said, is on the open source site Connexions (www.cnx.org), but cautions that part of the problem with these open sites is that they’re constantly changing. “The tone is different, there’s no consistency,” she said. “You can’t build a book with five different voices and inconsistent examples; it’s too disconcerting for the people who wind up trying to use it. A publisher’s job is to smooth the transitions between otherwise stand-alone lessons.”
What’s different about the academic market today, said Hillwig, is that it contains more—and more varied—content developers. Would-be authors should make themselves known to companies beyond just university presses and textbook publishers, she said:
“Do this by putting out a tweet or posting a chapter or lesson on a blog or open-source site, and seeing what kind of traction you get. If you have no traction, then maybe you shouldn’t be in this business. But if you get nibbles, that’s how you can start connecting with a user base and with content developers.”
The instructional materials business is a multi-billion dollar industry, said Hillwig. “Many educational products are being produced at companies like ours and we’re all always looking for subject matter experts—always,” she said. “Frankly, you can tell people to send their resumes to me and we’ll put them to work!”
She also suggests searching sites like the Association of American Publishers (www.publishers.org) or the Association of Education Publishers (www.aepweb.org), which may list LinkedIn groups, publishers’ forums, or focus groups that individual subject-matter experts can join. And don’t forget conventions, said Hillwig: “See who is developing new educational products and talk to them. That’s always a good way to get your foot in the door.”
Leanne Silverman hung her shingle as a freelance writer and editor in Denver, CO after leaving a 12-year career in academic publishing.
Words and Numbers seeking executive review board members
Words and Numbers, an outsourced content development and creation solution (www.wordsandnumbers.com), is looking for authors interested in serving on an executive review board for each of these subject areas: sociology, physics, biology and anatomy and physiology.
Can a great textbook be free?
Authors interested in learning more about open access can participate in an upcoming webinar on Thursday, January 27 from 2-3 p.m, entitled "Can a Great Textbook Be Free? Building a Sustainable New Text Model in the Era of the $200 Textbook," presented by Eric Frank, co-founder and president of Flat World Knowledge.
With the emergence of disruptive new business models, higher education publishing is in a state of tremendous flux. The rise of high quality, peer-reviewed open textbooks challenges the current status quo and the traditional model of overpriced, inflexible and too-often revised textbooks. Eric Frank will discuss:
Or listen to the recording of these webinars:
"The Stitz-Zeager Open Access Precalculus Project" by Carl Stitz, professor of mathematics at Lakeland Community College, and Jeff Zeager, associate professor of mathematics at Lorain County Community College (1-13-11)
"Connexions: Transitioning from the Edge of Education to the Mainstream," by Joel Thierstein, Associate Provost, Rice University, and Executive Director, Connexions (1-20-11)
Listen here -- Look for the title of the webinar and then click "Archive" to access the recording.
Authors of open textbook to share their story
Carl Stitz, professor of mathematics at Lakeland Community College, and Jeff Zeager, associate professor of mathematics at Lorain County Community College, will talk about the 18-month process of writing a 900+ page Precalculus book, why they gave it away for free on the Internet, and their plans for the book and its website, during a 60-minute webinar on Jan. 13 at 2 p.m. EST. To participate, click here. Look for 1/13/11, 11 a.m. The Stitz-Zeager Open Access Pre-Calculus Project, and click on GO. The webinar is hosted by Florida Distance Learning Consortium. To call into the webinar: 888-886-3951 and enter code 238212#
ASJA opens two awards, previously open only to ASJA members, to public
The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has opened the Arlenes: Books and Articles That Make a Difference and The Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism to the public, marking a change from ASJA’s long-time policy of these monetary awards going exclusively to members.
Opposition to 'rogue site' bill may put decision on hold
On November 19, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved S.3804 by a 19-0 vote and it is now awaiting the vote of the full Senate. Senator Wyden from Oregon opposes the bill, however, and may put a hold on it thus keeping it from a vote in this session.
It is now even more critical that authors write their representatives supporting this bill. You can now respond to this bill on the POPVOX.com website: Click here
Classic book contract negotiation manual revised
The classic book for authors on negotiating book contracts — Negotiating a Book Contract: A Guide for Authors, Agents and Lawyers, by New York lawyer Mark Levine — has been revised to include information on how authors can protect themselves in the age of e-books and electronic rights.
"If you use the old formulas, you'll lose control of your own book," said Levine.
The book has been the basic guide in the field since its initial publication in 1988. The revised edition differs from its predecessor in two significant ways:
The original edition was hailed by TAA member, and best-selling human anatomy and physiology textbook author Michael Timmons, as a "lucid explanation on how to successfully negotiate a book contract which takes into account the interests and rights of the author…a must for any author before signing a contract, revising or planning any further projects with a publisher."
The new edition is available at www.BookContracts.com [link to site] as an e-book (pdf) and a trade paperback. The pdf is published by Scarf Press and the paperback by Asphodel Press.
College stores receive $8.9 million in federal grants to fund textbook rentals
Eleven college and university bookstores received a total of $8.9 million in federal grants to fund pilot textbook rental programs in a effort to improve textbook affordability and help establish best practices for textbook rental programs.
The Department of Education received 63 applications. The textbook rental pilot grant program was authorized in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and funding by Congress in 2010. The provision was sponsored by Reps. Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).
An additional award went to the Alternative Media Access Center at Georgia Tech in Atlanta to make digital course materials more accessible for students with disabilities.
The schools picked for the grants are: Bellevue College, WA; Columbia College, Sonora, CA; Delaware Valley College of Science & Agriculture, Doylestown, PA; Florence-Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC; Illinois Central College, East Peoria, IL; Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA; Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, NY; St. Johns River Community College, Palatka, FL; San Diego State University, CA; West Los Angeles College, Culver City, CA; Western Oregon University, Monmouth.
For a detailed listing of grant winners, their proposals, and amounts of the individual grants, click here.
TAA ED interviewed on Beyond the Book
TAA Executive Director Richard Hull, and former TAA Council member and attorney Michael Lennie, were interviewed by The Copyright Clearance Center's Christopher Kenneally on "Why E-Textbooks Just Make Sense" for authors, publishers and students. The interview is available on the CCC's Beyond the Book program, a podcast series on the business of writing and publishing. Listen to the interview
As a first-year assistant professor at a Research I institution, my job is to write. My college and institution have provided a great foundation for my success so all that’s left is for me to get to it. Some days I sit with a black screen, fingers poised above the keyboard, waiting for the words and ideas to flow. Unfortunately, they don't always flow as plentiful as I would like. So, when I was asked to review Tara Gray’s Publish and Flourish: Become a Prolific Scholar, I jumped at the chance, eagerly anticipating learning something new. Gray’s book provided me, and gives other writers, a blueprint for academic publishing. The book, while small in presentation, is chock full of tips, tools, and techniques for novice and experienced writers. Her 12 steps are like rehab for the unproductive scholar.
The Writing section includes steps 4 and 5. In step 4, Gray extols the benefits of writing from Day 1 of your research project. Writing throughout the project helps improve your writing and saves times. Another time saving tip, Gray says, is to post your thesis on the wall and write to it. In step 5 she declares, posting the thesis will “help you define, refine, and write to your purpose.”
TAA Member Column: The Statutory Termination Right: One Copyright Act Provision Your Publisher Hopes You Never Hear About
In the fall of 1977, Ralph Little had just received his Ph.D. in Elfin Studies and was beginning his first faculty job as an assistant professor at Middle Earth College. Elfin Studies was in its infancy – many universities did not even recognize it as a legitimate discipline -- and there was no introductory textbook on the market. Each week Ralph prepared lecture outlines on ditto masters for the dozen intrepid undergraduates in his Elfin Studies 101. When a representative of Colossal Publishers, Inc., came by his office, Ralph, sporting the sideburns and bell-bottoms of the day, told him about his idea of writing an introduction to Elfin Studies.
Soon afterward, Colossal offered Ralph a contract to write his Introduction to Elves, for a royalty of 5 percent of Colossal’s receipts on every copy sold. The royalty sounded almost as diminutive as the subject matter. But Ralph was thrilled to become a textbook author, and the editor promised him that when the book came out, he would be invited to Colossal’s Midwestern sales meeting in Minneapolis. He signed the contract early in 1978, and the first edition was published on January 10, 1980.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s, Elfin Studies steadily grew throughout the United States and, although
The editors always came back with sad faces and the grim report that “the lawyers say that the terms in the contract apply to all future editions.” “But there’s good news,” they would add. “We’re inviting you to our North American sales meeting in Kansas City and this time you can have your own room.”
Meanwhile, other publishers were constantly asking Ralph whether he could jump ship, saying that they could offer him a much better deal. But Ralph’s contract prevented him from switching publishers. The best he could do was to keep giving his pep talk on Introduction to Elves at Supercolossal sales meetings across the country.
That was then and this is now. Now a Distinguished Full Professor at Middle Earth, Ralph Little parted long ago with his sideburns and bell-bottoms. But in 2011 he can avail himself of something even better: the statutory termination right. Under Section 203 of the Copyright Act of 1976, an author who granted publishing rights to his or her work after January 1, 1978, can terminate the grant thirty-five years after the work’s publication.
Congress enacted the termination right precisely in order to provide authors like Ralph – and their heirs -- a chance to renegotiate second-rate contracts that the authors had entered earlier in life. Take the case of high school friends Jerome Siegel and Joseph Shuster, who in 1938 conveyed the future rights to Superman to Detective Comics for the grand sum of $130. As the House Report put it, “A provision of this sort is needed because of the unequal bargaining position of authors, resulting in part from the impossibility of determining a work’s value until it has been exploited.” Especially as copyright terms were lengthened – they now last for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years -- it became necessary to give authors and their heirs this second chance.
In Ralph’s case, he can serve a formal notice that will terminate his grant of rights to Totally Awesome Enterprises, LLC (which merged with Supercolossal at the turn of the century) as of January 10, 2015 (35 years after the first edition of Elves was published). The notice must be sent to Totally Awesome at least two years – and no more than ten years – before the specified termination date. He can serve the notice right now.
Once he has served his Notice of Termination and filed the notice with the Copyright Office, Ralph will be free to negotiate with Totally Awesome for a better deal. And if the termination date arrives without a new contract, Ralph will be a free agent. He will be able to negotiate with the other publishers who have been clamoring for the book and he can even decide to publish Introduction to Elves himself.
The termination right may be of great value to many textbook authors – not only made-up ones like Ralph Little but also real ones: veteran authors who entered into less-than-ideal contracts early in their careers and whose books have remained in print with the original publishers or their successors. Authors who entered into their contracts after January 1, 1978, and whose books were published in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s – or their heirs -- can serve termination notices now for terminations that will take effect in 2013 and subsequent years. As time goes on, authors who entered into their contracts in the late 1980’s and the 1990’s, too, will be able to exercise the termination right.
If you decide to serve such a termination notice, don’t expect your publisher to be happy about it. In fact, this is one part of the Copyright Act that your publisher hopes you never hear about. There are many grounds on which publishers can try to combat efforts to exercise the termination right, and they sometimes will be successful. For example:
Not all textbook authors will be able to make effective use of the statutory termination right. If your book’s sales have been declining, a termination notice may simply spur your publisher to say “good riddance,” and you may not be able to find a better publishing option.
In many cases, however, the termination right will work as it is supposed to work, giving authors with long-lived but undercompensated books the chance to renegotiate with their publishers and, failing that, to seek greener pastures. The termination right will thus help to level the playing field between textbook authors and their publishers.
New members-only discount
Busy TAA People: Mary Kay Switzer
TAA Vice President Mary Kay Switzer established a collaboration with a nonprofit foundation and developed a new theatrical group called, A Repertory Theatre Group (ART). The group conducts fund raisers for various charities in their region. Their latest production, which Switzer wrote and directed, "A Radio Christmas Cavalcade: It's a Wonderful Year," played to packed houses in their newly built theatre. The proceeds (ticket sales plus a canned good per person) went to feed the needy -- via two food banks, HELP and Side by Side. Both of these groups help over 5,000 needy families every month. "We felt very good about donating our talents to a worthy cause," she says. "It made us feel the Christmas spirit!!!!"
Kären Matison Hess dies
TAA member Kären Matison Hess died December 19, 2010. Hess was a charter member of TAA and served on the TAA Council as secretary for two terms in the early 1990s. She was a member of the TAA Council of Fellows, which honors distinguished authors who have a long record of successful publishing. She was also a member of the TAA Foundation Board.
Hess received a TAA McGuffey Award for the 9th edition of Criminal Investigation, which she co-authored with her daughter, Christine Hess Orthmann.
She taught writing at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota for 30 years while authoring or co-authoring over 30 trade books and college-level textbooks on a variety of topics including financial planning, dental marketing, art, literature, engineering, hospice care, reading, management and report writing. She authored or co-authored 10 criminal justice textbooks for Wadsworth Publishing Company, several going into their eighth and ninth editions. She also served as the editor for Innovative Systems - Publishers, Inc., a company her husband owns and operates.
Hess earned her B.A. in English, B.S. in Education, M.A. in Educational Psychology and Ph.D. in Instructional Design from the University of Minnesota. She also earned a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Pacific Western University.
She is survived by husband and best friend, Sheldon; children, Christine (Craig) Orthmann, Lt. Col. Timothy (Bobbi) Hess, USAF; five grandchildren; siblings, Judy Ealy, Jim (Janice) Matison, William (Jacqueline) Matison, and Debra Tucker. She was actively involved in many local and national professional and civic organizations. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorials be sent to the Kären Matison Hess Memorial Fund at any US Bank.
Davis awarded $750 TAA Publication Grant
Dannielle Joy Davis, an associate professor of educational leadership, policy and law at Alabama State University, has been an awarded a $750 TAA Publication Grant to cover the costs of preparing an article and book chapter.
"This grant from TAA will cover publication related expenses that my department was not able to cover," says Davis. "It is so nice to have my research supported in this way!"
The grant will cover editorial, book, and program costs for the Hat Trick Program, a Productivity Program that helped her complete the project, she says.
Davis's article, "KEMET Academy: A University Outreach Model for Addressing the Wholeness of Learning in a Rural Context," will be published in The International Journal of Progressive Education in March 2011. The article introduces a model of university outreach in rural communities which promotes increasing post-secondary options for rural dwelling African American youth, says Davis. KEMET (Knowledge and Excellence in Mathematics, Equilibrium, and Technology) Academy is a comprehensive academic enrichment program targeting African American students enrolled in under-resourced schools and communities across Alabama's rural Black Belt region, she says.
"The group comprised 48 intermediate level students in four counties," she says. "Drawing upon professors representing two land grant institutions, KEMET faculty engaged KEMET Scholars in activities designed to enhance skills in reading comprehension and application, mathematics, science, computing, decision-making, as well as health and wellness during a two-week summer program and tri-monthly “Saturday Academies” annually, for over a five year period. Facilitators of the program found it effective in meeting its overall objectives of enhancing the academic and cultural enrichment experiences of rural youth."
Davis has studied and conducted research in Ghana, South Africa, Egypt, Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Her interdisciplinary, K-20 research examines the experiences of marginalized groups in educational settings and the role of organizational policy and practice in the promotion or inhibition of egalitarian academic and occupational outcomes. She has published over 20 refereed journal articles, book chapters, academic commentaries, volumes, and reviews.
TAA Publication Grants are open to member and non-member authors. Authors can apply for a Publication Grant of up to $750 to cover the cost of publishing already accepted journal articles, or for the preparation of artwork or other charts, diagrams or images to be included in accepted articles or academic books. For more information on TAA Publication Grants: Click here
Call for nominations to TAA Council
Nominate yourself or a colleague to serve on the TAA Council. Open positions include Vice President/President-Elect and two Council positions. Terms start July 1, 2011. Any member of TAA is eligible to serve on the TAA Council. The Vice President/President-Elect term is two years. The Council terms are three years.
TAA Council members are required to attend two meetings per year, one in January in St. Petersburg, Florida, and one the day prior to the association's annual conference (held traditionally in late June or early July). Travel and lodging expenses related to attending these meetings is reimbursed. Officers also attend monthly teleconferences.
Nominees must send a photo, a 100-150 word bio, and a 100-150 word position statement with their nominations, describing why they would be a good candidate for the TAA Council. Deadline for completed nominations is March 10, 2010. Ballots are mailed to the membership March 15, 2011. The deadline for the receipt of ballots from members is April 15, 2011. Terms begin July 1, 2011.
To nominate yourself or a colleague for the TAA Council, email your nominations toTextandAcademicAuthors@taaonline.net or mail to TAA, P.O. Box 56359, St. Petersburg, FL 33732-6359. Contact TAA if you have any questions: (727) 563-0020 orTextandAcademicAuthors@taaonline.net.
For more information or to view detailed job descriptions for each position, visit TAA Elections.
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