P814: Going indie: One man’s journey into writing and publishing his own textbook

Author: R. Mark Matthews, Durham Tech, USA


Date: 8/6/14

Time: 4:20 PM4:40 PM

Room: ASH 2302

Related Symposium: S23

For my two-semester general chemistry course, I’ve recently abandoned the standard practice of adopting a major-publisher’s textbook in favor of using my own, self-published work. The book takes a novel approach on two fronts: it’s written and designed in a way that encourages it be read just like any other book, while also eschewing many of the tropes of traditional chemistry textbooks. Figures, graphs and tables are embedded within the text itself, usually without labels or captions, in an attempt to keep the “narrative flow” going. Similarly, sample calculations are presented in a step-by-step fashion to mimic how I would guide a student through a problem if I were doing it in person. The end result is one where my course textbook is no longer just a supplement to my lecture, but a written record of my lectures themselves. It also gives my first-year students – and anyone else who may be interested – an affordably priced textbook. And since it was written almost entirely in Microsoft Word and published with the assistance of Lulu Press, Inc. (lulu.com), the upfront costs to publication were very low, meaning anyone interested in following suit will find that the primary barrier to entry is committing the time required to see the project to completion. During my presentation, I’ll briefly describe my experiences and lessons learned from the writing and publishing process, as well the initial reactions from both myself and my students during its first year of implementation.