RE: Textbook writing: don't just blame the authors!

Subject: RE: Textbook writing: don't just blame the authors!
From: "Dick Margulis" <margulis -at- mail -dot- fiam -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 2001 09:03:02 -0500

Carnall, Jane wrote:

These are
>not mistakes inserted for political reasons or as a selling point: these are
>simple uncaring errors, left in because it was worth no one's while to care
>about the quality of the product.

And now we are getting closer to the crux of the matter. Textbook publishing is a business activity, not an academic exercise. Reducing the number of errors in a book costs money. Publishers decide consciously to minimize their costs by skipping steps, so long as the customers let them get away with it. (I've done textbook production work and queried obvious errors, only to have the publisher refuse to make the corrections because they did not want to pay Author's Alteration charges. I've also been in the same situation with academic journals; there the charges are billed to the individual authors and it was they who often chose to let an error remain rather than fork over $3.00.)

So let's fix the blame where it belongs--with customers (mostly state education bureaucracies, but ultimately the local school boards that pay for the books) who accept shoddy work from publishers. If the customers demanded better quality, the publishers would comply. They might or might not be able to raise prices to cover the increased costs, but they would comply in any case.


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