Self Published Textbooks (and where to go from here)

A bunch of years ago (6 years), the British Literature anthologies we were using were dead. Like, bindings-falling-off dead. And out of print.

So, like normal we looked to the major vendors for something suitable and new to buy. But there were problems- nothing had quite what we wanted, and they were all absurdly expensive. We were looking at having to spend something on the order of $30,000 on books we really didn’t like all that much.

Which got me thinking about just writing our own textbooks. And when I happened across an article about print on demand publishing, light bulbs began to flash.

We’ve been having our own textbooks printed for our students for five years now. I can’t take all the credit- especially the first year, there was a lot more than one person could do. But I did all the layout on the first two editions of the book (as well as contributing some text).

You know what I’ve learned in the time since then?

This is the only way to go. There’s no reason not to be doing this, at any grade level and in any subject. If you’re an educator (and presumably know your subject matter), this is the only way you’ll ever be happy with a text. Yes, it’s a lot of work, and yes, you’ll have to learn some new stuff (book layout, copyright law, electronic publishing details…), but learning new stuff is a part of what being an educator is all about.

I worked on a project last summer that put educators from all over the state together to pool resources- the idea being that it would allow any of us to create our own e-books quickly and easily because we wouldn’t have to do all the work ourselves. It was (and is) a great idea. Sadly, there weren’t that many people that seemed to buy into it last year. We’re doing it again this summer (details to follow, as I have them) and I’m hoping for a bigger turnout.