Give the Teachers What They Want! Teacher Appreciation Week

Teachers are the ones interacting with the kids every day — those very individual, often vulnerable young people at the ideal center of a school’s focus. And not merely interacting with, but guiding, hearing, interpreting, counseling, correcting, encouraging, alloparenting, and instructing.

Teachers’ names and faces are the ones kids remember as they move through school and into their adult lives.

So if schools want to serve kids, let’s face it, what’s good for teachers is good for schools.

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Ways to Save on Books this Summer

Summer is officially here and so is book-ordering season. As you settle into summer and hopefully get some rest and relaxation, we’re in gear to guide you through your ordering for the upcoming school year. We know negotiating budgets and complicated purchasing probably isn’t at the top of your list of ways to enjoy your summer. As such, we’ve compiled a list of ways to offset costs and save you time so you can spend it on enjoying the sun (with sunscreen, of course):

Tip 1: Integrate Used Books

We make reconditioned, used textbooks, particularly those of an older edition, available at large discounts. If you would like to check ‘used’ availability of a book, just email us and we’ll see if we have it in stock.

Tip 2: Organize Orders

Thoughtful organization of orders by grade, department, or teacher means easier unpacking and distribution. We’ll do our best to mark and ship your items so that they mirror the organization of your order.

Tip 3: Buy in Bulk

The golden rule of bargain hunters everywhere: you buy more, you save more. New paperback novels and trade hardcovers are available at 35% off the cover price when ordering ten or more copies. For most classrooms, that’s not even a lot.

Tip 4: Consolidate Ordering

Buying all of your books—trade titles and textbooks—from one, reliable source means that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of contacting multiple publishers. Even better, you have one place to return inevitable over-stocked items. If you work directly with the publisher, often you have to fill out tedious request forms for permission on returns.  Adams can supply any book from any publisher at a competitive discount and when you have returns, they’re handled through us and we don’t charge a restocking. Another major perk is that if you use us as your primary source, your school gets free ‘shipping and handling’ on all orders. Let’s review: that’s time and money (and significant stress) saved by working with one source for your school’s needs. This means more time to relax and soak up some rays.

Tip 5: Access Free Teaching Materials

The price of teacher editions and supplemental materials can easily run into hundreds of dollars when in many cases, these items are gratis with the school’s purchase of the student textbooks. Adams will work with you and the publisher’s sales representative to discover which items are free and provide them to your school. For more details on how this works, please visit our short guide to gratis materials.

Tip 6: Source Alternative Editions

Publishers are frequently changing the prices on editions, but also new editions are continually appearing on the market, either from a different publisher or from the same one at a different quality. Talk to our sales representatives about looking for alternative, less expensive editions to the one you’re using, especially if you don’t mind familiarizing yourself with a new edition or smaller print. You may even discover you like the new edition better. Searching an item on our site reveals links to view alternative editions.

Tip 7: Invest Long-Term in Quality Editions

Sacrificing quality may also mean that you’re sacrificing the lifespan of a particular item. Consider how your students use their books and whether it’s worth replacing mass-market paperbacks with trade paperbacks, which are more likely to last longer.

Tip 8: Talk to Humans

Avoid machine recordings, anonymous representatives, and cyborgs. Consolidated ordering, means the ability to communicate with one consistent person for all of your needs, at least in Adams’ case.  A human being will answer the phone and you will be matched with a dedicated customer service representative who will work with you to understand your school’s needs and fulfill them to the best of their and our ability, thus saving time and usually money. View a list of ways to contact us on our site.

Explore our full catalog of books at www.adamsbook.com. If you don’t see what you’re looking for, talk to us. Call (800) 221-0909 to speak with a customer service representative.

Free with Adoption

(originally published May 2011)

The price of Teacher Editions and Ancillary Materials can easily run into hundreds of dollars. If your faculty makes use of the supplemental teaching and testing materials that the publishers’ create to accompany their textbooks, obtaining these materials free of charge is a great cost saving.

Major publishers usually provide Teacher Editions free as long as they receive an order for student copies. Minimum order quantity varies by publisher but is usually in the range of 25 to 50 student books. Your Adams representative can assist you with information and procedures.

Getting the Ancillary teaching resources and testing supplements gratis is a little bit more involved but worth the extra effort.  If your faculty is planning any new textbook adoptions this year let an Adams representative assist to get the ancillary material ‘free with adoption.’ First step, the teacher should contact the local publisher’s representative for the textbook you are interested in adopting.  If you don’t know the publisher’ reps name, contact Adams’ customer service, [4]cs@adamsbook.com or 1-800-221-0909 and we will be happy to assist you.

Publisher sales representatives get a budget specifically for the purpose of providing these free materials. The local publisher representative must be involved because free materials come out of their budget.  Explain to the publisher’s rep that you are “considering” adopting one of their titles and ask, “What is available free with adoption?”  The rep will usually ask what quantity of student books you will be purchasing, so the teacher should have an approximate quantity in mind.  Request the publisher’s rep to email you the list of gratis items so that the terms are clear.  Sometimes the rep will say that they will drop off the free materials once the textbook order has been placed. This is fine but ask them to confirm in writing the free items you will be receiving. The publisher’s rep is there to help you so try to develop a good rapport.  A professional relationship is mutually beneficial. When you place your textbook order with Adams include the information on which material is gratis.  Adams will follow through on getting the free materials and the publisher’s representative will get credit for the sale and receive their commission.

Adams works closely with the various publishers to make sure all goes smoothly. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call your Adams’ customer service representative.

Stretch-your-budget with free teacher ancillary materials!  The employees of Adams Book Company are here to help you do your job smarter and easier, and we put you first by having a human answer the phone.  Thank you for allowing Adams to serve you and have a wonderful summer!

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Prepare Your Students for the ACT

Test Prep Books at 35% Off

Barron’s ACT, 16th Edition

This test prep manual presents a detailed review of all ACT test topics—English, math, reading, science reasoning—and guidance in responding to the essay. Includes practice questions, study tips, and test-taking strategies. Also offers a diagnostic test and three practice exams.

Paperback: ISBN 9780764144820

Cover price: $18.99   |   Adams’ Price: $12.34 for 10+ copies

With CD-ROM: ISBN 9780764197581

Cover price: $29.99   |   Adams’ Price: $19.41 for 10+ copies

Barron’s ACT Subject Workbooks

ACT Subject WorkbooksWorkbooks in English, Reading and Writing and in Math and Science provides students with practice and review for the ACT. Each includes a full-length self-assessment, practice questions, drills, study advice, test-taking strategies, and practice tests. Paperbacks.

English, Reading, and Writing: ISBN 9780764139826

Cover price: $14.99   |   Adams’ Price: $9.74 for 10+ copies

Math and Science: ISBN 9780764140341

Cover price: $14.99   |   Adams’ Price: $9.74 for 10+ copies

Barron’s ACT Flash Cards

ACT Flash Cards

Covers test prep on all sections of the ACT: English, Math, Reading, Science, & Writing.

ISBN 9781438071361

Cover price: $16.99   |   Adams’ Price: $11.04 for 10+ copies

Barron’s ACT 36

This book offers strategies and practice tests in all ACT test areas. The book can be purchased with an optional CD-ROM including a full-length ACT practice test plus 50 extra-difficult practice questions.

Paperback: ISBN 9780764147056

Cover price: $16.99   |   Adams’ Price: $11.04 for 10+ copies

6 ACT Practice Tests

This manual contains six full-length practice tests for students to determine their strengths and improve their weak areas. Use independently or in tandem with Barron’s ACT and Flash Cards.

Paperback: ISBN 9780764147227

Cover price: $12.99   |   Adams’ Price: $8.44 for 10+ copies

Grammar Workbook for the SAT, ACT and More, 2nd Edition

This workbook presents a detailed grammar review with dozens of practice quizzes and exercises to sharpen students’ skills. Sample questions exactly like those found on the ACT, and come with fully explained answers.English, Reading, and Writing: ISBN 9780764139826

Paperback: ISBN 9780764144899

Cover price: $14.99   |   Adams’ Price: $9.74 for 10+ copies

eBooks Explained: A guide to the different formats and features

Digital reading content, or eBooks, is emerging in varied and sometimes difficult to navigate formats, each one suited to unique uses in classrooms and curricula, and in some cases not suited at all. The goal of this newsletter is to provide a primer on the different formats for delivering eTextbooks onto a personal device, and guide teachers and administrators to identify which are available and how each format can integrate into his or her classroom. Also we will seek to explain what kind of technical support is required within the classroom.

Consistent with our role as a one-source supplier of traditional printed books, Adams is working to provide the books you’re looking for in a digital format. If you’d like to integrate eBooks into your classroom, please reach out to us with a list of titles you’re interested in, and we’ll work with our partners at the publishers to make them available.

The following identifies popular downloadable formats for school adoption. It is admittedly quite long so as to provide a full and in-depth picture of the evolving eBook landscape.

Please note that the formats discussed below exclude eBook textbooks which are accessed by students via login and password to a publisher’s website. Some of our customers who have ventured into eBooks in past years will be most familiar with that method of delivery. The below seeks to explain downloadable formats which a user can view and read through a device—whether it be a personal computer or a mobile reader—and without a web connection.

PDF

The most basic and accessible format of an eBook is the PDF (file extension .pdf). Initially it was created by Adobe Systems as a standard format for containing a set of images of pages. PDFs are compatible with most internet-connected devices, but the downside to the format is that traditionally the text is static and cannot be “re-flowed” to fit the screen width, size, or resolution of devices varying in size. A PDF document conforms to standard printing sizes and proportions of a 9.5 by 11-inch page. The lack of device-tailoring can make the reading experience less than ideal. The memory required to store large collections of images, can also slow down the reading experience and requires a good internet connection, discouraging one from offline reading.

Responding to some concerns, Adobe has adapted their technology to allow for reflowing, but many of the documents are still not offered in this modified version and it often requires additional effort (and conversion software) on the part of the reader to update to the newer format.

In the Classroom: PDF-formatted eBooks are adequate for reading and displaying data such as charts and graphs, however the limitations on interactivity restrict collaboration and connectivity to external resources, such as a dictionary or supporting multimedia. Additionally, the file sizes and formatting often make textbook reading more cumbersome, a potential discouragement for already reluctant readers. Ultimately the advantage a PDF textbook has over the same traditional print textbook is portability, which is not to be underrated. Adams has been distributing PDF-formatted texts for a couple of years now, and looks forward to continuing to support distribution.

EPUB

EPUB (file extension .epub) is a growing open-standard eBook format created with the intention of building a universal and free standard for publishers to create eBooks and for devices to access them. Thus it is widely supported across different reading devices and tablets, including Kobo eReader and the Blackberry Playbook and by various reading applications installable on additional devices including the Barnes and Noble Nook, Sony Reader, Apple’s line of portable devices, and personal computers.

Aside from its accessibility, the benefit of publishing and reading in ePub is that it is designed for reflowable content, meaning that the display is optimized both for the device and for the reader’s tastes: the reader may choose to adjust the size of the print and the direction of the text to fit on the page comfortably.

Most popular literature is available in ePub format with the number of works quickly growing. However, few textbooks are offered in ePub. This is largely because the reflowing of text—while a benefit when reading literature—doesn’t allow for the structured layout of images, charts, graphs, equations, and problem sets that textbooks are used to incorporating. In other words, there is no guarantee that an image will show up next to the block of text that a publisher wants it to appear with. Additionally, ePub doesn’t offer the amount of robustness that an application (described below) offers in terms of providing interactivity, which in many cases is the motivation to integrate tablet devices into learning.

Last fall, the IDPF released specifications for Version 3 of ePub, designed to address many of the educational needs that the earlier version wasn’t meeting. This version supports greater integration of multimedia and a more fixed layout. However, at the time of this newsletter, ePub3 is largely unsupported by devices and reading applications. IDPF has released a beta version of an EPUB3 reader application which is slowly rolling out and is anticipated to be finalized mid-2012. By summer 2013, we expect to see publishers making more titles available and look forward to distributing them.

In the Classroom: The big advantage is that EPUB is a standard across platforms and hardware-agnostic, enabling educators to choose the device that is right for a given student body. Students can access the given book both through a device in the classroom and by the student at home on his or her personal computer. While EPUB’s free and open-format makes it an ideal fit for reading literature, until EPUB3 format is more widely supported, the EPUB textbooks on the market are limited both in their number and functionality. Adams is providing distribution for the EPUB2 standard format this coming summer and looks forward to EPUB3 distribution in 2013 when we expect titles to begin emerging on the market.

Applications

eBooks that require more robust functionality are made available as an application, more commonly known as an “app”. These are generally web-based pieces of software that encourage interactivity. The evolving capabilities of tablet and mobile devices have provided an enticing opportunity for publishers to create content, and there is a noticeably emerging appetite among students. Given the level of interaction made possible, apps represent a change in how content publishers are viewing “books” as a text and information-based interaction. They blur the definition of reading. Some graceful examples of book apps suited to educational purposes include a line of Merriam-Webster’s Dictionaries, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Scientific American’s virtual exploration of the solar system in Journey to the Exoplanets, Touch Press’ The Elements: A Visual Exploration which invites learners to explore the periodic table, and several titles provided as part of Pearson’s eText application.

The downside of book apps is that while they offer the robust interactivity and information desirable in a classroom, they are expensive for content publishers to create. As a result, many of the textbook-like apps included are more like in depth explorations of a single topic or companion exercises to printed textbooks. Likely this will evolve with time and appetite, but at the time of this newsletter, that appears to represent the bulk of what’s at market. Book applications are different than reader applications, which are essentially programs designed to serve as digital libraries on a device. Apple (iBooks), Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook, Google, Kobo, Sony, as well as several publishers have reader apps and link to their bookstores. Library eBooks are opened using readers like Bluefire and Overdrive. Many of these reader applications, including Pearson’s eText, are portals through which to access book applications.

Occasionally Book Apps are also referred to as “enhanced books” though this term is also loosely applied to eBooks with “enhanced features” which may be as simple as additional notes rather than deep interactivity.

Another consideration is that not all eReaders can support app functionality; many are geared solely towards reading and won’t support internet-functionality. Similarly, an app must be custom built for each platform, so don’t assume that just because your device or PC has internet-functionality that the app you want is available for its operating system.

In the Classroom: Book and other educational applications offer exciting opportunities for an educator to create an engaging reading experience in the classroom, integrating multiple media and interactivity.

Additional Popular Formats

Several of the big hardware providers in the market have developed their own proprietary formats for the marketplace. All eBooks purchased through Apple’s iBookstore are in iBooks format (.iba) and all those purchased through Amazon’s Kindle store come in Kindle format (.azw). Both are very similar to EPUB in both form and function, with the exception that they’re not an open format. Kindle or iBooks titles must be read in the supplier’s proprietary reader and can’t be transferred to other devices, unless it’s another of the hardware supplier’s devices or through a proprietary web-based reader (which often requires internet connectivity).

The benefit of these formats are that, particularly in the case of iBooks, the technology and support available is more evolved than what’s currently at market, on par with that of EPUB3. Apple’s January release of iBooks2 included the release of several textbook titles as discussed in our January version of The Word. However, as discussed in that newsletter, the number of textbooks is currently limited (15). Texts presently available appear to be based to core state standards.

In the Classroom: The interactivity of the iBooks platform makes it an irresistible option for a classroom if the text fits the curriculum AND if the budget can accommodate the purchase of an iPad. The down side in adopting the iPad platform is that the basic iPad ($500.00) does not have the memory to download more than a limited number of these texts, so schools will likely have to upgrade to a more expensive model with more memory in order to accommodate the breadth of courses to which a given student is enrolled.  Since Apple and Kindle are sole distributors of their formatted titles, this not only limits the device, but fragments the book-shopping experience, separating traditional from electronic.

Taking a step back (and one which we haven’t yet taken in this newsletter), it is worth considering what the concentration of technology to a single platform means to commerce and society. The U.S. Justice Department is presently investigating the pricing of electronic books, to probe whether there was improper collusion by Apple Inc. and trade publishers to prevent discounting.

Adams looks forward to supporting distribution of PDF and EPUB formats for the 2012-2013 school year and implementing new technologies and distribution methods as the technology evolves. Both of these formats are open and hardware-agnostic, enabling students to read across different devices, moving their opportunities for learning between the classroom and home. This gives the school the benefit of choosing devices that meet their price-point. In most cases, the novels you’ll want are going to be offered in ePub and the electronic textbooks (until the emergence of EPUB3) are going to be available in PDF, if they’re available at all.

We’re presently working on updating our current sites to include eBook title listings and provide a uniform distribution method across titles. As stated above, we’d like to hear your requests for titles that you would like to see available, and are looking forward to the coming weeks in which we’ll be sharing a catalog of debut digital titles with you.

If there are any questions concerning eBooks please feel free to reach out to your sales representative or Cori Schattner at coris (at) adamsbook (dot) com.

Email us to subscribe to our email newsletter, The Word.

E-textbooks for the classroom: The Future of Education?

Is now the right time to invest in eBook devices?

(originally published June 17, 2011)

Technology in the classroom is evolving.  The purpose of this communication is to let you know where things stand right now.

It is important to distinguish between trade books that may be used in the classroom, and textbooks.  Trade books are the novels, plays, biographies, etc., usually in paperback format that are sometimes used for supplemental reading in the classroom.  These are readily available for download onto a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader device. Readability is very good; you can adjust the size of the print and the words scroll to fit the screen of the device. Generally, to download these books, a credit card is necessary and it is downloadable to a specific device and ownership is non-transferable. There is minimal or no price advantage over the paperback version usually used in the classroom.

Publishers have treated textbooks differently.  Other than a possible PDF format on to a PC, it is not downloadable in the same way as a trade book.  The PDF, when available, is static in presentation and does not offer workable links.

The textbook publishers have used ‘login and password’ onto their website as the preferred method for delivering an e-textbook.  The online version (e-textbook) is generally available for purchase by itself or in conjunction with the purchase of the hard copy.  Generally, purchasing the online version alone is approximately 25% of the hardcover price for a one-year license.  A six-year license for the e-version login is usually equal to the price of the hardcover.   The later editions of online textbooks offer links to source materials and additional information as well as offering instant result quizzes to assist instructors in identifying student weaknesses.

Considerations for assessing whether online editions (e-textbooks) are a viable alternative for your student population include:

  • Does your student body have access to high speed Internet at home for accessing the textbook at home?
  • Does the school have sufficient wireless Internet structure for multiple student use through out the day?

There has been a lot in the news lately about publishers introducing textbooks compatible with Apples’ iPad.  Though I have heard about beta tests being performed around the nation, the only major publisher to introduce anything viable so far is Houghton Mifflin. Houghton Mifflin, after beta testing for the past year, has introduced an “Algebra 1” app that appears worthy of consideration.

Before rushing out to buy iPads, schools should be wary of the fast evolving pace of the electronics industry and the pursuit of a standard.  The reason publishers have been slow to introduce materials for the iPad is that the iPad is not compatible with Flash.  Flash is a product of Adobe Systems that is used to add interactivity to web pages.  As discussed, textbook publishers have been making e-books available only by logging into their website, which were typically created using Flash.  Publishers will have to invest time and money to convert to programs compatible with the iPad.  Publishers have also expressed some concerns with the proprietary nature of Apple products.

The iPad is a tablet computer, or a “tablet PC.”  Though Apple has grabbed market share with their early introduction of a well priced tablet, the iPad, there are other well established computer manufacturers introducing their version of the tablet.  Included in this group are Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Blackberry (Research in Motion) and they are all compatible with Flash.

It appears that the publishers are hedging their bets.  While putting some resources into making books iPad compatible, they are waiting to see which eBook reader will gain the most market share.  Once that battle has been decided, publishers must then calculate whether the technology is affordable on a schools budget.

Apple’s iBooks 2: A Long-Term Game-Changer

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(originally published January 20, 2012)

In January, Apple announced their release of digital textbooks in partnership with publishers Pearson PLC, McGraw-Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In the long term this is a significant game-changer for the delivery of textbooks to schools. Adams is very excited about this development as during the past year we have been working to license delivery of eBooks to schools using a more open, non-proprietary platform. The publishers have been slow to take action, stating that there was content in their textbooks that they did not have the rights to distribute electronically. It appears that Apple’s clout has managed to filter some of the problematic content out of a limited number of textbooks and/or create new textbooks that excluded these issues. There are sure to be more titles made available in the coming year. The pricing of the eTextbooks made available at present is extraordinary: $14.99 or less.

The caution for schools in all of this is not to let “the tail wag the dog.”  It’s in all schools’ interests to provide an extraordinary education, utilizing cutting-edge technologies to prepare their students for the future. It’s our interest at Adams to help facilitate these groundbreaking classroom experiences. However, it’s equally, if not more important, to avoid forcing nascent technologies into a classroom setting simply for the sake of it.

Looking at this development in the short term, the immediate offerings are limited. Only eight school-level textbook titles are available across all disciplines through the iBooks 2 platform. These textbooks are versatile and interactive and will likely be well suited to some classrooms. Accordingly, we encourage schools to remain diligent in evaluating these titles as you have always done for book adoptions. While we realize the prestige that comes along with being a leader in the adoption of technology, we’re also aware that doing so prematurely could potentially result in a less-than-optimal classroom experience. In our role as your gateway to an ever-changing publishing world, we look forward to working with you to evaluate whether these titles are an appropriate academic fit for your classrooms and to develop future strategies for eLearning.

Follow us on Twitter for more ideas for your classroom and additional updates on the publishing industry.