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Is there an art to writing textbooks? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
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LMGilbert
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Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby LMGilbert » Mon Apr 08, 2013 8:29 am

I've started part two of a two-part Introductory Accounting program; this time around it's an on-line course. I completed the first section a few years ago, and the required text is SO different. The first one was easy to understand, engaging, and actually seemed to be designed to make accounting interesting! This one is deadly dull, somewhat confusing, and accompanied by a website "MyAccountingLab." You can't check your work on the demo problems without going to the internet and spending a lot of time figuring out how to get around & find the info you want on this website -- its primary function seems to be selling more book/packages to students.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of thing when changing from one textbook to another? How do bad textbooks get published and sold? I imagine they're cheaper to produce so colleges and universities with dwindling budgets will go with the cheaper item. Does anyone on the forum have "insider" information on the world of textbooks?

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mammamaia
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Re: Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby mammamaia » Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:34 pm

ALL 6 e-book collections of my work are FREE...email me with "want free books" in subject line and include a message.

FREE writing help/mentoring: http://www.saysmom.com

"You must BE the change you wish to see in the world." Gandhi

TerryRodgers
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Re: Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby TerryRodgers » Mon Apr 08, 2013 1:33 pm

I would think that in order to write a college textbook and have it accepted you would need some pretty big credentials. I assume you have at least a bachelor degree because if you didn't why would I want to purchase a textbook from someone that never took a college course. I also think colleges can be pretty choosy when it comes to their reputation and would be looking for textbooks written by course experts. Now if you have a masters or PhD, which you may, then you would be well on your way to being an expert. Ditto if you are a college professor or a teacher of the subject you want to write about.

Also, something you mentioned had me perplexed. When I went to college and when both of my sons that just finished college acquired textbooks, we had to pay for them. I don't think colleges need much of a textbook budget when the students are required to purchase or rent the textbooks. Don't let any college fool you, they have plenty of money, tuition is way up, and so is attendance. Not sure about overall graduation rates. They may be down because of higher costs.

Finally, Accounting? Ugh. How can you possibly make accounting fun and interesting. :lol:

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LMGilbert
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Re: Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby LMGilbert » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:36 pm

You'd be surprised Terry! A certain type of geek just loves to see numbers making sense, and loves to analyze the "back-story" of why the numbers look the way the way they do. My thinking about courses that require cheaper textbooks, is that perhaps when students have to pay such high tuition costs, they might balk at taking a course that requires more expensive textbooks, and choose the course that has a lower-costing textbook. Your thinking is probably much more logical than mine.

Mamamaia, I'm not looking for particular information, just curious about the whole subject of textbooks.

I should have posted this in "Writer's Block Party" since I'm doing everything I can to avoid working on a crit of another local writer's work, and of course avoiding my own writing...

TerryRodgers
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Re: Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby TerryRodgers » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:24 am


James A. Ritchie
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Re: Is there an art to writing textbooks?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:36 am

I don't know about "art" but writing a good textbook certainly takes talent, logic, and a reader's mind. Just because you're an expert on a given subject does not mean you're a good writer.


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