International Alliance of independent publishers

Publishing a textbook, step by step

The module’s objective

This training module aims to provide you with the knowledge that anyone involved in the production of a textbook needs to apply. It details the process, describes the stakeholders, outlines the tools at their disposal, and explains the constraints that need to be taken into account. It also helps anyone already active in the field of textbook production to add to their knowledge base and get a broad overview of the process.
Each of the different steps along the way–from conception all the way to the distribution of textbooks–are presented with an outline of their limitations, a conceptual toolbox and a checklist of important matters that need to be understood.

The specific features of textbook publishing

The publication of a school textbook responds to very specific needs: A textbook is linked to a specific curriculum, it is used by a teacher in the classroom, for a specific subject and a particular class. In one way, a textbook is a book like any other: Written by authors, it is illustrated and sold. But it also has to conform to certain expectations, and have a form and content that correspond to a particular use.

For all intents and purposes, the publication of a textbook is a considerably more expensive exercise than for other books. It has to follow a set tuition programme; it needs to be educational; it often must be printed in colour and contain illustrations; and must be available at the start of the school year (or at least in bookstores if the distribution model is based on these sales outlets). It is also, among others, accompanied by a teacher’s manual, or an educator’s handbook, describing the teaching method applied, guiding the teacher on how to use the textbook in class, and containing the answers to all textbook exercises.

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