Emerging 3.0: What Makes a New Edition?

0 0 1,049

9781457697968.jpgI’m so excited: the third edition of Emerging is now available! In this series of posts I will go over some of the new readings and offer suggestions for teaching with the new edition. But I wanted to start by talking about what makes a new edition “new.”

I think we all agree that textbook pricing is a serious challenge for students today. One recent report suggests that prices have risen over 1,000% since 1977 and there has been a lot of press on the issue and a lot of finger pointing. One prominent finger often points to publishers and the cycles of new editions, with the suggestion that publishers make modest or insignificant changes to an edition just to rake in cash.

I think this problem is complex and I think many fingers can point to many places, but in this post I’d just like to share what went into this new edition. It doesn’t do much to resolve the debate but I hope it will offer some insight on this particular textbook.

The consistent message I have gotten from my editors when thinking about a new edition is that we need to change the book to make it better. My experience of textbook edition cycles, then, has not been about profits but about what feels to me like a very familiar writing process: publish, get feedback, revise, publish, get feedback, and so on. This may be particularly true for a reader like Emerging, with its focus on very contemporary readings and current issues but I suspect it may be more generally true. The field changes and evolves, as do the teachers who teach these courses and the students who take them. When we work on a new edition, those are the issues at the heart of our process.

To begin revising the book, we think about both emerging trends (digital literacy, writing in the disciplines, researched writing) and current issues (environment, emerging adulthood, transgender, social media). We also ask instructors who are using the book what’s working and what isn’t. We rely heavily on that feedback (which I think of as a form of peer review) to help guide us in considering what essays to take out (because they don’t work or they’re not used), what topics to put in, and what other features will make the book more effective.

This is an extended collaborative process. My editor and I spend a lot of time bouncing ideas off each other. We also continue to consult with instructors—in particular I ask teachers using the text here at Florida Atlantic University to help us locate new and relevant readings. I have at least one meeting with a whole team at Bedford/St. Martin’s to discuss changes in the book, particularly ways we can improve the apparatus that supports teachers and students.

I never realized how much work went into a textbook until I first started this project and, continually, I am amazed (and daunted) at the amount of work it takes to revise a textbook. We’ve worked very hard to make Emerging a better book. I’m not sure if you will agree, but your response to what we’ve done will form a foundation for our decisions the next time around. In this sense, the book itself is a collaborative process. I have a particular vision for what Emerging can and should be, but that vision is in turn shaped and refined by what you want and need it to be.

Looking at the bare facts for the third edition, we took out 26 readings and put in 21 new ones. We scrapped the e-readings. We expanded the introduction and added more about researched writing. We totally revamped the sequences and added research sequences. And we added additional table of contents to help different instructors find a way into the book. And I can tell you this, not one of those changes (in my experience) was motivated by profit.

I’m not denying that there is a serious problem with textbook pricing. I’m not denying that publishers are out to make a profit. But when it comes to this new edition, a lot more was motivating it and a lot more went into it. Next post, I’ll go into some details on just what’s new.

Want to offer feedback, comments, and suggestions on this post? Join the Macmillan Community to get involved (it’s free, quick, and easy)!

About the Author
Barclay Barrios is an Associate Professor of English and Director of Writing Programs at Florida Atlantic University, where he teaches freshman composition and graduate courses in composition methodology and theory, rhetorics of the world wide web, and composing digital identities. He was Director of Instructional Technology at Rutgers University and currently serves on the board of Pedagogy. Barrios is a frequent presenter at professional conferences, and the author of Emerging.