Monday, September 23, 2013

It’s a New (Publishing) World Out There

In my younger days as a faculty member at National College of Chiropractic (later National University of Health Sciences) I was involved in developing and publishing textbooks. This was a labor of love, since I knew that the potential pay-off likely would never make up for the time I put into working on each book. And indeed, the fist book I published, Fundamentals of Chiropractic Diagnosis and Management, took nearly 4 years to complete, from conception to final publication. Over the course of my career I was involved with 16 books. But as all of us are well aware, we lived in a radically different world than the one I was lived in back in the day.

Our students do not purchase textbooks like we older folk did. I love books, and I actually loved my old chiropractic texts, and each term I was happy to put out the money to buy them. But with so many information sources now available on line, the textbook market has changed in some highly interesting ways. Here is but one example:
Jones and Bartlett, one of many publishing companies, now offers customized course materials. If you use Jones and Bartlett texts for your course, they will provide you the means to build a custom packet of information for your students, drawn directly from the text. When you are done developing the text, which is easy to do online, it will generate either a print or eBook edition.  Put another way, you can take chapters from existing Jones and Bartlett textbooks, select only the ones you wish to use, put them in the order you wish to have your students read them, add in some of your own material, develop your own cover for the book, and then make either the print of eBook copy. You can immediately see the benefit. Your students do not have to buy several textbooks because you need them to read one or two chapters in each; you can just take those chapters and put them in your course book. Instructions for doing so, and a short video clip about this system, can be found at the URL I listed above.

We are seeing this kind of publishing more and more.  Consider the old model, which I admit to using in my own course. I assign a required text, in my case Haneline’s Evidence-Based Chiropractic Practice. I lecture each week using PowerPoint slides drawn from each week’s assigned reading. My guess is that few students actually acquire the text, and likely never read the supporting assigned material. They miss the richness of understanding that reading will bring to the material presented in class. Call me old school, but I always read every assignment I was given. Imagine now being able to use only the chapters you want students to have, at a price reduced from purchasing full textbooks, and even available for their tablet of smart phone? How cool is that?
Jones and Bartlett is hardly the only publisher looking at new models for publication. Elsevier allows you to develop a book containing all the articles you have ever published in Elsevier journals, as but one example. This is not just a vanity project, but if you assign those articles to a class, imagine how nice to have them all in one location, at reasonable cost.

And there is iBookAuthor, and other models that we have been exposed to. Exciting stuff; new horizons for us to conquer.

No comments: