Friday, August 17, 2007

Ask My Readers: Revenue Sharing from Textbooks

A returning correspondent writes:

You and your readers were very helpful in responding to my questions about how to convince my college's leadership to consider my textbook project a professional rather than personal project. In fact, college leadership now officially considers my project to be professional rather than personal. But this has led to another situation. College leadership wants to discuss a "revenue sharing agreement."

What are the precedents in community colleges for "revenue sharing" in this type of situation? (To recap, I am writing the textbook in addition to teaching a full load and fulfilling my service obligations; in other words, I am writing the textbook on my own time. I want to use the following college resources: my office, my email account, my office phone, my college-issued computer, paper, post-it notes, pens, and copy machines.) I don't expect there will be much "revenue" from the project as my textbook will appeal to a fairly small niche of instructors in my discipline. How much revenue should I expect to "share" with the college considering that I will be putting in hundreds of hours of work (on my own time) and the college will be doing very little for the project, all things considered?

There is no faculty union at my institution. As far as I can tell, no other faculty member currently at my institution has published a textbook.

Gee, free Post-Its? You're living the dream!

I'll have to ask my readers about precedent, since I've never asked this question of my colleagues at other schools. At my cc, we don't give release time for textbook writing, but we allow faculty to use their offices and email and suchlike without checking up on them, and we don't ask for a cut of whatever they produce. (Development of online courses is another issue. But 'writing' in the traditional sense – books, articles, etc. -- is owned entirely by the author. In the union contract, it's clear that lecture notes belong to the professor, but syllabi can be kept by the college.)

At Proprietary U, there was an understanding that in return for institutional support, the author(s) would split the royalties from copies sold at Proprietary U. Royalties on copies sold anywhere else went to the author(s). This struck me as reasonable, since the royalties on copies sold at a single campus amounted to roughly enough to spring for donuts once a year.

Good luck. If you don't mind my saying so, I'm not overly impressed with your administration.

Wise and battle-scarred readers: what arrangements have you seen?

Have a question? Ask the Administrator at ccdean (at) myway (dot) com.