The textbook, published by Prentice Hall, went out of print some years ago. A new publishing firm,
“Q: Is adopting the textbook required for this review program?
“A: No, absolutely not. There are many reviewers who are not using the textbook in their classes. However, the application process is competitive and it is often the case that the reviews that come from spending an entire semester using the textbook in class contains more in depth detail and familiarity with the content which best serves our editorial team.”
Well, out of curiosity, I sent in my name as a potential reviewer and received an exam copy of the textbook. It was very cheaply produced. Most of the illustrations--maybe all of them, I don’t recall, and I no longer have the books--were black-and-white illustrations from the Library of Congress, which means, again, cheap. According to the publisher’s web site, the book was $55 for the bookstore, so the price to students would have perhaps $75--a lot of money (this was about five years ago) for what was likely the cheapest-produced textbook around.
Another thing: With other textbooks, the campus bookstore can return unpurchased copies of books and receive a full refund. But
“Returns are subject to a 20% restocking fee. Credit will be issued upon receipt of returned books--credit only, no cash refunds.” Neither of these provisions--the restocking fee or the credit instead of cash refund--is typical of reputable publishers.
I realized this was a terrible scam, but I filled out the form to “review” the book for $2,500. To one of their questions (yes, they actually asked this), I honestly replied I would not use the book in my class. I wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t chosen for the review process.
But that’s not the end of the story.
I then received another letter from
Here was the deal. I could change up to 20% of the Jordan/Litwack textbook, tailoring it to my approach, leaving out what I didn’t want, switching chapters to fit my syllabus, even adding some of my own material. I would be listed as co-author on the title page! For every copy sold to my students, I would receive $15.
Since it might take a while to do my revisions of the textbook,
I didn’t take them up on this, hence missing the chance to co-author a book with Winthrop Jordan and Leon Litwack.
Jordan and Litwack had nothing to do with this. According to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (reproduced here), they were dismayed by the whole affair.