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Book Smarts

C. Rosenberg

Why would someone write or publish a textbook? How long does it take? Do textbooks ever become obsolete?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

 Mishpacha image

 

M

eet the Experts

Mrs. Baila Roth
Roth Publishing (Monsey, New York), a publishing house for Yiddish and English textbooks

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

Combining my love for writing and teaching. 



Mrs. Pessie Frankel

M&M Publishing (Beit Shemesh, Israel), a publisher of English as a Second Language textbooks and other materials to help learn the language.

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

It’s rewarding when kids (and teachers) come up to me and say, “I love English because I love your book!”



Mrs. Rifky Amsel

Former writer at Mosdos Press (Cleveland, Ohio), a publishing house of literature textbooks.

Favorite part about working in a publishing house?

The challenge of applying my skills and appreciation for literature, writing, and analytics, while making it interesting and relevant for the students.



Behind the Scenes

So who actually creates our textbooks?

“Most of our books are created by teachers who understand how students learn, and have seen the need for a specific book in their own classrooms,” Mrs. Baila Roth says. “The books may have started off with just a few stencils the teacher created for her students, which were later developed into a full-fledged program for other students to enjoy. Sometimes, if the book is successful, the author adds new volumes for the next grade levels.”

Textbooks are also written by other experts (such as college professors or researchers) in the specific field of study such as math, science, etc.

Getting the Book Out

However, lest you think differently, textbooks are more than authors writing the text. At M&M Publishing, Mrs. Pessie Frankel employs a staff of graphic artists, writers, artists, editors, and proofreaders just to plan the book and its layout.

As the publishers work on the book, they constantly evaluate whether their product meets the state’s educational criteria, as well as those important to schools. Then, a government agency determines whether the book complies with state curriculum guidelines.

 

“I am constantly updating, changing, coming out with new materials, like flashcards, CDs, and books, of course,” Mrs. Frankel says. “There is always new research to take into consideration, and the Ministry of Education is constantly changing, revising, and updating its requirements.” Mrs. Roth adds that before they print a title, they do a “trial year.” At the end of the year, they make changes and corrections based on the feedback received from schools who used the program. If a spelling word or lesson is too difficult to understand, for example, they simplify it.

The Right Domain

Both Mrs. Frankel and Mrs. Amsel (who worked on the Ruby (fourth-grade) Literature Workbook at Mosdos Press) speak about the complications of getting rights to reprint literature stories. Since they use stories from many different authors and publications, the copyright holder for each story must be found, and reprint permission requested.

“Some of the permissions were easy to get,” Mrs. Amsel recalls. “Yet others never made it into the book. Some were expensive and some were free.”

After a book’s content and layout is complete, the book is ready to be published, sold, and distributed.

With so many different facets of the puzzle that need to fall into place, planning a textbook requires more than just a bit of know-now, dedication, and determination. Yet, once it all falls into place, the feeling of triumph is inestimable! (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 675)

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