Press Release

Judge Daniel Mack on What Judges Look for in PROSE Awards Entries

Judge Daniel Mack on What Judges Look for in PROSE Awards Entries

Interviews With 2023 PROSE Judges

As we approach the end of the 2023 PROSE Awards entry period, we have our final piece in our PROSE Judges Spotlight series, in which we ask veteran judge Daniel Mack for his thoughts on what makes for a winning PROSE entry.

Daniel Mack, Associate Dean of Libraries for Collection Strategies and Services, University of Maryland in College Park

Judge Daniel Mack is an Associate Dean of Libraries for Collection Strategies and Services at the University of Maryland in College Park, where he provides leadership in policy creation and implementation, strategic planning, program development, and assessment for library collections. He has advanced degrees in library science and ancient history and has taught college courses in ancient history, Roman archaeology, classical literature, and Latin grammar, all of which lend themselves to judging PROSE entries.

Association of American Publishers: What do you look for in a submission?

Daniel Mack: A successful PROSE submission is a work that sheds new light on a scholarly or professional topic while also exhibiting outstanding production values.  Whether the target audience consists of general readers or specialized researchers, a winning submission will employ clear writing, effective arguments, and appropriate ancillary matter to make its case.

 A successful submission will combine original scholarship with exceptional readability and excellence in production.

AAP: How can libraries and scholarly publishers work together to highlight best in classical research?

Daniel Mack: Libraries and scholarly publishers are natural partners to promote excellent research in the classics. Librarians work at the hub of interdisciplinarity, and classical research is a highly interdisciplinary field, combining the study of history, literature, philology, and material culture. 

Because they support faculty, students, researchers, and general readers, libraries understand the varying needs of these audiences.  Librarians can work with publishers to promote excellent classical research that supports the multiple intersections of these disciplines and readers. 

AAP: Do you have a favorite classical text?

Daniel Mack: My personal favorite classical text is the Aeneid of Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70-19 BCE).  Published at the dawn of the Roman Empire in the late first century BCE, the Aeneid immediately became the national epic of Rome. Virgil’s great work is both sophisticated and elusive, and open to a variety of contradictory interpretations, and has been a major influence on Western culture for two millennia, inspiring writers, artists, and composers like Dante, Shakespeare, Purcell, and Voltaire. 

Submissions for the 2023 PROSE Awards close next week, Friday, November 18th. Learn more about the PROSE Awards here.

Press Release

PROSE Judge Deborah Logan on What Judges Look for in a PROSE Awards Entry

PROSE Judge Deborah Logan on What Judges Look for in a PROSE Awards Entry

Interviews with 2023 PROSE Judges

In the second installment of the 2023 PROSE Spotlight series, judge Deborah Logan provides insight into not only the judging process, but also the importance of gender-balance in awards committees and scholarly editorial teams. 

Deborah Logan, Publishing Director, Elsevier, Energy & Earth Journals’ Program

Judge Deborah Logan is Publishing Director for Elsevier’s Energy & Earth journals’ program which is the largest global publishing programs in the energy and earth sciences, and which includes many flagship titles publishing world-class content. Deborah’s passions lie in raising standards, championing excellence, and promoting greater diversity in science.

Association of American Publishers: What do you look for in a PROSE submission?

Deborah Logan: I want to see the author and publisher in perfect step with each other! A strong submission letter and endorsements can really help with this.

From the author, I want to see a compelling reason for the work to have been created. Will you tell the reader something new? Will you tell it to them in a new way?

From the publisher, I want to see the work presented well. Does the work look good? Does it read well? Is there a logical flow?

AAP: Can you talk a little bit about the importance of gender-balance in awards committees?

Deborah Logan: I think balance in general is important in all areas of life. We know that a diverse team leads to innovation and better-quality decision making, both of which are critical for awards assessment, but let’s balance this where we can so that everyone feels they belong. I’ve been the only woman on a committee before, and it can be tough to feel you can introduce new ways of looking at things or influence the outcome in any way.

It’s particularly important to get different perspectives when you’re evaluating who gets an award. If you don’t have that diversity of profile, then will your candidates respect your decision? Will they even apply in the first place? Would the awards then have the value they have? I can tell you that all of the judges bring something different to the discussion and speak freely, and I know I’ve made better decisions as a result.

I feel strongly that a gender-balanced committee means we take a holistic view when we on the PROSE panel assess the awards. I also hope we can open the doors to works that might not have been submitted previously. I joined the committee to make sure I provided a fresh angle. It’s still the case that in the field I evaluate there are more men than women as authors. Yet those women authors are out there. Please encourage your publisher to submit your work!

AAP: Can you talk about the importance of gender-balanced editorial teams for scholarly works?

Deborah Logan: As with awards, so with scholarly works. This is not just about doing the right thing or having teams that reflect the diversity of the scholarly world. Nor is it even that diverse, balanced teams can stimulate excellence and innovation. These things are true, but editorial teams have another role to play. This is where you find your role models. This is where you inspire the current and future generations of scholars to create their own scholarly works in whatever field of study they choose. Scholars care about the editorial teams on journals, and they make decisions based on what they see. For me, at least, I try to make sure there are no closed doors. There are only open ones and everyone belongs.

Press Release

What Do Judges Look for in a PROSE Awards Entry?

What Do Judges Look for in a PROSE Awards Entry?

Interviews with 2023 PROSE Judges

As submissions start to roll in for the 2023 PROSE Awards, our own Syreeta Swann, Chief Operating Officer here at the Association of American Publishers, asked veteran judge Peter Berkery for some insights into what makes a PROSE entry stand out. Peter is the Executive Director of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses). AUPresses is a partner for the PROSE Awards.

Syreeta Swann, Chief Operating Officer, Association of American Publishers
Peter Berkery, Executive Director, Association of University Presses

Judge Peter Berkery brings a publisher’s point of view to the 2023 PROSE judges panel, having served as Executive Director of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) since 2013. Berkery also has extensive experience in government affairs and association management, and has a BA in Classical Studies from Boston College, both an MA and a JD from The American University, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from George Washington University.

Syreeta Swann: What do you look for in a submission?

Peter Berkery: Two things, I think: (1) the work itself advances scholarship in its discipline – or even pioneers a whole new field of inquiry; and, (2) the submission materials reflect the publisher’s belief in the work.

There’s nothing more disappointing to me as a judge than reading an entry form that’s simply a cut-and-paste of the jacket copy.

Syreeta Swann: What makes University, Professional and Scholarly Publishers unique in the publishing world?

Peter Berkery: AUPresses members share a commitment to editorial rigor, particularly as evidenced by thorough, thoughtfully-administered peer review. (The recently published 2nd edition of our Best Practices for Peer Review of Scholarly Books https://peerreview.up.hcommons.org/  is only the latest demonstration of our community’s high standards.)

This commitment bears ample fruit in the eyes of PROSE Awards judges as well: last year alone, university press publications won 30 of the 39 categories and received 4 of the top 5 prizes, including the ultimate PROSE Award honor, the R.R. Hawkins Award. 

Syreeta Swann: Can a book can be judged by its cover?

Peter Berkery: Always!!! Regardless of format or medium, production values matter, and are an important part of the overall value added by scholarly publishers. They definitely get mentioned when judges deliberate.

We thank Peter for taking the time to shed some light on the PROSE judging process and look forward to seeing the entries submitted for 2023! Over the next few weeks, look to our website to see insight from other 2023 PROSE Awards judges.

And don’t forget: submissions for the 2023 PROSE Awards will be accepted till Friday, November 19th. Learn more about the PROSE Awards here.

Press Release

Inclusive Access Supports Student Success

Inclusive Access Supports Student Success

As college students head back to school this fall, a highlight continues to be the quality and affordability of the course materials that will help them learn and succeed. Trends that have only accelerated with the digital transition in education since the pandemic.

For the past ten years, publishers have forged ahead with a twin focus on quality and affordability, leading to a significant decrease in student spending on course materials. In addition, publishers have been able to provide students with innovative new products that increase accessibility, and provide them with a broad spectrum of course material options to choose from.

One of those innovations has been the course delivery model Inclusive Access, which provides students with access to course materials on the first day of class, at the guaranteed lowest market rate. The model continues to gain popularity, with more than 1,500 campuses (and growing). According to new 2022 research from Student Watch, 39 percent of students have acquired materials through Inclusive Access models, up from 15 percent in 2019.

What’s more, the reduced costs are also folded into tuition, reducing the need for separate materials at the beginning of the semester. Federal regulations permit students to pay for Inclusive Access materials through loans or grants under Title IV of the Higher Education Act and require them to be available at the lowest cost available on the market.

Kelly L. Denson is Vice President of Education Policy and Programs at the Association of American Publishers and a former teacher.

Research has also shown that Inclusive Access often leads to major increases in student success for diverse student groups.

Researcher Michael Moore from the University of New Hampshire found that Black students, female students, and students over the age of 25 had the “largest increase in success rates” when comparing student success before and after using Inclusive Access. Inclusive Access models may have a massive impact on increasing equity in the learning environment.

And faculty appreciate that students can have their materials on the first day of class, giving them more time to start their assignments and increase their chances of successfully completing the course. Inclusive Access also provides flexibility and can be implemented on a department level, on a course-by-course basis, or even by course section.

More research continues to be done on this innovative course material delivery model. Education publishers continue to prioritize affordability, offering high-quality content and course materials in a variety of delivery models that have been proven to dramatically reduce the cost to students – including Inclusive Access, as well as digital, rentals, or digital subscription models, and individual learning apps.

Press Release

How to Trouble Isaac Newton

How to Trouble Isaac Newton

Since 1976, the AAP has sponsored the PROSE Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences & Mathematics. Every year, upwards of 20 judges spend our precious hours reading about the mineralogy of meteorites, or the ecosystems of California, or solutions to boundary-value problems in diffusion science (to name but a few of the recent winning topics). You may ask, why does AAP offer this prestigious award for Physical Sciences & Mathematics? To my mind, the answer is simple. The world needs more great science books and great science books deserve to be celebrated. You may not immediately agree with that statement, but hear me out.

First, a small philosophical digression.

Ever since Heraclitus, humanity’s deep thinkers have doubted the capacity of the human mind to comprehend the mysteries of the cosmos. In the modern era, proponents of a position known as mysterianism have followed this line of argument, suggesting that the solutions to certain “hard problems” (most notably, how consciousness somehow arises from physical processes in the brain) lie beyond the cognitive reach of Homo sapiens. After all, they say, everything we are, biologically speaking, is the result of a random process of evolution. Unless our distant ancestors were assisted in spreading their genes by a deep knowledge of the workings of the universe, why should we expect that evolution would have endowed our brains with such esoteric capabilities?

There are others who find this to be an overly pessimistic view. Having identified a mystery, are we not already on the path to solving it? The philosopher Daniel Dennett puts it this way: “As soon as you frame a question that you claim we will never be able to answer, you set in motion the very process that might well prove you wrong: you raise a topic of investigation.” Speaking for myself, a mere mortal with a limited grasp of these questions, I confess to (a) a headache brought on by thinking too hard and (b) a preference for the latter, more optimistic, approach.

What has all this got to do with books? Well, if hard problems are hard to think about, they are even harder to write about. And if you can’t write about them in a convincing way, your ideas are unlikely to gain much traction. Compelling writing is no less important in the scientific realm than it is in works of literature, say, or young adult fiction. In the sciences, I would argue, books (or, to use a more scholarly descriptor, monographs) provide the ideal setting for the careful laying out of a complex argument. Journal articles, with all their constraints and conventions and need for speed, are simply not suited to this purpose; they serve a rather different function in the research ecosystem.

As an exemplar of the power of the scientific monograph, I direct your attention to the winner of the 2021 PROSE Award for Excellence in Physical Sciences & Mathematics: David Merritt’s A Philosophical Approach to MOND: Assessing the Milgromian Research Program in Cosmology, published by Cambridge University Press. If this seems a challenging topic, see above, and I don’t propose to go into too much detail here. Just bear with me through the next paragraph.

Sean Pidgeon, is a 2022 PROSE Award Judge, editor of the 2009 PROSE Awards R.R. Hawkins Award Winner, and Senior Editor at Association of Computing Machinery

In brief, MOND refers to Modified Newtonian Dynamics, a theory advanced by the physicist Mordehai Milgrom as an alternative explanation for an apparent anomaly in the dynamics of galaxies. The speed at which stars or gas clouds orbit at a certain distance from the galactic center can be predicted by applying Newton’s laws of gravity and motion, given the observed distribution of mass in the galaxy. Astrophysical measurements have shown that this holds true near the centers of most large galaxies, but perplexing deviations begin to appear farther out in the galactic disk: the orbital speed is found to be systematically larger than that predicted by Newton’s laws. In the “standard model” of cosmology, this observation is explained by assuming that galaxies are embedded in haloes of “dark matter,” a mysterious substance that has never been directly observed. By contrast, the MOND theory posits the radical idea that Newton’s laws are themselves modified in regions of very low mass density, such as the outer reaches of galaxies.

Is MOND an accurate description of what’s really going on, or should we stick with invisible dark matter? I have no idea, and Merritt does not claim to have answered that question definitively. What he does demonstrate, though, is the value of a carefully reasoned long-form scientific argument. Constructed with exquisite care over 270 pages and beautifully written for its intended audience, his book builds its argument with devastating logic. A glance at the reviews shows that even the skeptics are impressed with the way he develops his thesis. As a physics graduate myself (though in ancient times), I confess that I found the book entirely gripping, despite having to skim over some of the really complicated stuff. In some distant foggy recess of my brain, I am still pondering the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, and wondering whether modified Newtonian dynamics might have a part to play in that.

If Sir Isaac Newton is furrowing his brow, that’s got to be a good thing: it’s how the hard problems get solved. And so, in closing, here’s my heartfelt plea to the deep thinkers of the world: write more books like this, please. And to my fellow science publishers: publish more books like this, please, and don’t forget to submit them for the PROSE Awards. If we work together, maybe we can keep those pessimistic mysterians in their place.

Press Release

A League of Their Own: Non-Fiction Graphic Novels

A League of Their Own: Non-Fiction Graphic Novels

When was the last time you read a graphic novel? And when you think of them, do you think of Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes, Batman and Superman, or webcomics like xkcd?

While many people associate graphic novels or graphic narratives with comics, the truth is that these robust works are often used to explore a wide range of complex topics, including scholarly analysis of historical events, educational materials related to science and medicines, memoirs, and biographies. Although scholarly graphic novels frequently tackle the same serious subjects that are found in traditional books, readers engage with them a different way.

In fact, Graphic narratives are often used in educational settings as a way of encouraging reluctant readers. They’re usually seen as fun, especially to those who view reading a book as onerous. But it would be a mistake to say that these works are ‘simple’ when compared to text driven publications. On the contrary, by using a combination of visual and verbal communication, these works are quite complex, simultaneously engaging multiple literacies. As a result, they can be used to convey information or emotion more effectively to the reader.

Recognizing the growing importance of graphic novels, last year the Association of American Publishers created the Nonfiction Graphic Novels category for the annual PROSE Awards. This category recognizes the creativity and innovation in publishing graphic narratives and showcases the best of the genre.

Judging from the submissions we received for the 2021 PROSE Awards, the first year with the Nonfiction Graphic Novels category, publishers are making good use of the format. One great example is Witness to the Age of Revolution: The Odyssey of Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, published by Oxford University Press and authored by Charles F. Walker and Liz Clarke, which won the category last year. Part of OUP’s Graphic History series, the work follows the life of Juan Bautista Tupac Amaru, from his participation in the unsuccessful Tupac Amaru Rebellion in the Peruvian Andes, through his imprisonment following the revolution, brutal forced travel, first across the Andes and then across the Atlantic, and eventual release and return to South America decades later.

Chronicling the experiences of Bautista, Walker and Clarke engage the reader through a hybrid approach of nontraditional narrative of the Age of Revolution, filled with highly detailed illustrations, followed by a traditional narrative with additional details of the same story, and then primary sources. Witness to the Age of Revolution is well researched and structured in such a way that it nearly writes itself into a course syllabus.

Sara Kern is a 2022 PROSE Awards Judge and Student Success & Outreach Librarian at Juniata College

As a librarian who often advocates for the use of graphic narratives in college classrooms, I like to refer to them as “sneaky vegetables”: students are often excited and, anecdotally, say they are more likely to read the graphic narrative on the syllabus. Even though they think of it as fun reading, they still engage with the material in a meaningful way.

While works like Witness to the Age of Revolution lend themselves well to classroom use, graphic narratives are not valued simply for their educational uses. The 2021 PROSE finalist, Light in Dark Times: The Human Search for Meaning, published by University of Toronto Press and authored by Alisse Waterson and illustrated by Charlotte Corden, brings together art and anthropology and asks the reader to reflect on their place and purpose in the in the world at this moment. Part of University of Toronto Press’ ethnoGRAPHIC series, the work is based on Waterson’s 2017 speech at the American Anthropological Association’s annual conference, the work offers those not present for the address the opportunity to engage with the work in a different way – in the graphic narrative, the reader is able to join Corden and Waterson, traveling together through space and time to meet more than a dozen writers and activists and engage in conversation with them, while presenting a call for action to create a new future.

I love graphic narratives because they’re fun, but also because they challenge me to engage with material I might not otherwise read. I’m excited to learn from this year’s submissions.

Press Release

Uniquely Accessible

Uniquely Accessible

“Accessible” has to be one of the best back-handed compliments: “Oh, you’ll enjoy that book; it’s very accessible.”  Wait, is that a crack at the book, or a crack at you? But accessibility in the sense of availability and appeal to a wide audience is hardly a shortcoming in the mind of a book acquisitions editor or an art director. Trade book publishers, in that sense, thrive on accessibility and make the Outstanding Work by a Trade Publisher PROSE Awards category uniquely rewarding.

Steven Heffner is 2022 PROSE Awards Judge and Managing Director Publications, IEEE

Appeal is not a disqualifier for significance, and Trade publishers have always been major contributors to scholarship. In the current publishing and academic environment, I would even venture to say that Trade publishers have a unique and essential role to play, bringing vital perspectives and distinct advantages, qualities that are helping to balance and propel professional scholarly work.

First, we rely on Trade Publishers to strike notes with current resonance. Academia tends to remain aloof from what it perceives as transient cultural trends, maintaining a distance social phenomena deemed temporary, passing. The Trade is not bound by this particular pretense. Indeed, the Trade Publishing industry thrives on being au courant, which means its contributions are often highly relevant to the current cultural moment and, at their best, help to contextualize and define as-yet undefined areas of exploration.

In 2020, the PROSE Award for Outstanding Work from a Trade Publisher went to W.W. Norton & Company for Sisters and Rebels: A Struggle for the Soul of America by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall. Hall’s extensively researched work tells the story of three sisters springing from the Southern establishment who are carried by the currents and eddies of American social thought and geographic migrations to very different vocational end points. Among many other things, the story speaks dramatically to our current moment of splintered political discourse, suggesting that our rifts can be viewed in the context of America’s ongoing intellectual development, almost beckoning us back from the edge of apocalyptic interpretations of our political state. The use of rigorous scholarship to tell a politically or socially relevant story—one that is made more impactful precisely because of its meticulously documented factual detail—is a vital contribution from the Trade publishers.

Another space we look to the Trade to fill in professional and scholarly publishing is a widening gap of scholarship’s own making. Ever-increasing specialization and the curation and indexing technologies that drive professional communities into narrow and isolated channels have diminished the opportunity for (and benefits of) serendipity and cross-pollination, particularly in science but in the humanities as well. Unconstrained by rigid conventions manifest in the academy, the Trade Publishing industry has the luxury of a broader view, one that can take a chance on cross currents and meta-conclusions.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan and the 2019 PROSE Award winner for Outstanding Work from a Trade Publisher, published Underbug: An Obsessive Tale of Termites and Technology, which weaves author Lisa Margonelli’s experience following researchers in biology, computer science, robotics, and natural history into an unassuming work of observation with strong contributions to engineering ethics, the history of science and even epistemology and philosophy of mind.  It’s a fine example of the Trade Publishing industry’s ability to apply an unorthodox perspective on scholarly pursuits to produce interdisciplinary insights.

I’m personally looking forward to the submissions from the Trade publishers this year. What emerging issues will get a unique spotlight? What serendipitous encounters are being synthesized? I for one will relish the “accessible” insights.

Press Release

SPARC Offers Myths as FACTS

SPARC Offers Myths as FACTS

In searching for the truth, one should deeply question organizations that require resorting to falsehoods to create their narrative. The new inclusive access misinformation site, developed by SPARC and their backers, weaponizes myths surrounding inclusive access to confuse consumers trying to make the best choice for their education.

For the past ten years, publishers have forged ahead with a twin focus on quality and affordability, leading to a significant decrease in the cost of course materials. In addition, publishers have been able to provide students with innovative new products that increase accessibility, decrease expenses, and provide them with a broad spectrum of options to choose from. However, this new SPARC site uses myths to conceal the progress publishers have made, while pushing fake “facts” to create a false storyline surrounding inclusive access.

Through their website, SPARC pushes a series of fictions easily dispelled with real facts published by research groups Student Watch and Student Monitor, as well as by the College Board itself. First, SPARC claims the cost of college course materials has risen over the past twenty years. This is simply untrue. Recent surveys from two different groups, Student Watch and Student Monitor, found a 36% drop in the amount students spend on course materials over the past decade.

SPARC also makes the incorrect claim that Inclusive Access constrains faculty ability to choose course materials. In reality, Inclusive Access is extremely popular precisely because its flexibility encourages academic freedom for faculty: programs can be implemented on a department level, but they can also be provided on a course-by-course basis, or even by course section.

SPARC falsely asserts that Inclusive Access limits student choice, but students are always able to opt-out, and the truth is that there is a robust market for used books and rentals for students to choose from, as supported by data from Student Watch.

Kelly L. Denson is Vice President of Education Policy and Programs at the Association of American Publishers and a former teacher.

SPARC argues that American students should be forced into a one-size-fits all solution of taxpayer funded OER when it comes to course materials. There is no question that high quality, innovative and constantly updated course materials offered by American publishers are critical to education, and in the case of some of the most iconic and groundbreaking works available, admired around the world.

Despite SPARC’s rhetoric, it is clear to everyone in the education ecosystem that faculty and students need access to first rate, professional course materials and need the freedom to choose the materials that work best for them, both in terms of quality and affordability. Indeed, the Inclusive Access programs that SPARC attacks are an increasingly popular option because they deliver on both fronts.

SPARC’s website relies on the idea that students are paying more for their course materials, and Inclusive Access contributes to that, but the data shows this is simply untrue. The facts matter, and data published by the College Board, Student Monitor, and Student Watch, shows students are spending less than ever.

While we’re always open to honest debate, we find it disheartening that SPARC has chosen to resort to disinformation to make its point. SPARC should ask themselves why their arguments rely on faulty facts as a driving force. And we should all be wary of the intention behind sites that make such obvious attempts to mislead the public.

Press Release

Education Publishers Focus on Quality, Affordability and Accessibility Made Learning Possible During Pandemic

The 2020-2021 academic year presented incoming students with the unprecedented challenge of learning in a new virtual environment. Many students – and some educators – felt unprepared and unsure of how they might access the materials they needed to succeed in this virtual learning environment. Without the ability to access libraries, classrooms, and physical materials, students, teachers, and parents alike were faced with the question of how to best serve students and set them up for success.

But as professors, teachers and students made the move to remote learning, publishers had their backs, with a wide range of new, online course materials that helped to alleviate some of the stress that accompanied this unusual – and rather unsettling — online school year. Education publishers were uniquely positioned to meet the moment and invest in change. As an industry, publishers have spent decades shifting first-rate content and learning solutions to a variety of innovative formats that better enable students to learn and succeed from anywhere at any time.

Here is some important background: in recent years, education publishers have focused on quality and affordability, as well as on ensuring that students have easy access, when creating education materials. Quality has, of course, always been a watchword for education publishers, who invest heavily – and annually – in ensuring that education materials are up to date, and top quality.

When it comes to affordability, publishers have embraced a wide array of new, affordable digital choices, including digital rentals, and inclusive access programs, that have helped fuel a phenomenal 36% decline in student spending on course materials over the past decade, according to independent researchers Student Watch and Student Monitor. In contrast to the overall rise in tuition and other college costs, the decrease in student spending on course materials is a rare bright spot, making the efforts of publishers more than a little noteworthy.

Kelly L. Denson is Vice President of Education Policy and Programs at the Association of American Publishers and a former teacher.

Because the focus on digital options isn’t new – publishers have been developing these materials for many years now — some instructors were already well versed in using digital alternatives when teaching, giving them a great advantage in switching to virtual instruction at the beginning of the pandemic.

To quote Donna Vandegrift, Dean of Rowan College at Burlington County,

“As a Dean, when COVID hit, we definitely had to readjust in a lot of ways. My division was uniquely prepared to pivot to support our students as they were learning remotely because we were using a lot of inclusive access materials. Our students and our faculty therefore had easy access to materials. Because our students and our faculty were familiar with the materials, they were able to readjust quickly to provide learning opportunities for their students in a remote environment. Students already knew what to do, and they were ready to do it. And our faculty didn’t need to take time to readjust. All of those new materials were easily accessible for the students and for the faculty.”

We’re proud that publishers made a positive academic experience possible during the pandemic, and even more proud that they make quality, affordability and accessibility their watchwords year in, and year out, making every academic year better, and some academic years – like the one we just had – possible.

VIDEO: Multi-Year Decline in Spending on Course Materials

INFOGRAPHIC: Student Watch Report

INFOGRAPHIC: FACT v. FICTION: Student Spending on Course Materials

Press Release

Ginsburg, Scalia, and Possibly Barrett, on Copyright

As I write, the Senate Judiciary Committee is considering Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose death, like her life, was an extraordinary American story.  A pioneering scholar, lawyer, and jurist throughout her career, Ginsburg—the beloved RBG—was dedicated to the principle of equal justice for all people.  She smashed glass ceilings until the very end, becoming the first woman in the history of the United States to lie in State at the Capitol, the first Jewish-American to do so, and only the second Supreme Court Justice to do so after William Howard Taft, who had also served as President. 

The publishing industry, devoted as we are to the democratic exchange of ideas, owes more than a debt of gratitude to Justice Ginsburg for her unwavering commitment to the gender equalities, minority protections, and LGBTQ rights that have given voice to new leaders and fresh perspectives in the 21st century.  We are also grateful for her copyright leadership on the bench, which was clear, consistent, and straightforward.  Indeed, as a jurist, Ginsburg repeatedly upheld the Constitutional basis of copyright law, the plain meaning of the statute, the right of Congress to amend the statute, and the overall importance of a well-functioning copyright system to free speech and the dissemination of knowledge.   

Assuming Judge Barrett joins the Supreme Court, we have little to go on regarding her views or disposition towards copyright jurisprudence, but what we do know is this:  Barrett is a conservative scholar who embraces the strict judicial perspectives of Justice Scalia.  “His judicial philosophy is mine, too,” Barrett has said of her mentor, “A judge must apply the law as written.” 

If confirmed, it is possible that Barrett will look to Ginsburg’s copyright decisions as guideposts, a proposition that is more than theoretical if one considers that Scalia joined every copyright decision that Ginsburg authored during their mutual service on the Court.  Although the pair famously disagreed on judicial philosophy—Scalia devoted to original text and Ginsburg devoted to a living Constitution—they were mainly aligned on questions of copyright interpretation.  The alignment may have had something to do with their shared interest in the opera and other arts, but more likely had to do with the fact that the Copyright Act has clear Constitutional origins and extensive statutory text.

While serving alongside Scalia, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in four copyright cases and a major dissent in another, all of which Scalia joined.  Two of her opinions—Golan v. Holder and Eldred v. Ashcroft—involved Constitutional challenges against the government, which she handily shut down. 

The 2012 Golan case questioned the authority of Congress to restore lapsed copyrights in certain foreign works as part of an intergovernmental negotiation.  In rejecting an assertion that copyright amendments must be limited to provisions that incentivize new authorship, Ginsburg explained that Congress has wide latitude to create a copyright regime that achieves the overall objectives of the Copyright Clause, including creating international agreements.  She expressly rejected the assertion that copyright is singularly about new authorship, noting that even from the earliest days of the United States, the Framers were focused not only on authorship, but also on other issues, such as publication and dissemination.  Scalia agreed.

Nearly a decade earlier, the Court’s 2003 decision in Eldred upheld Congress’ decision to extend copyright term by 20 years, a premise that petitioners had challenged under both the Copyright Clause and the First Amendment.  Rejecting both arguments, Ginsburg explained that “copyright’s limited monopolies are compatible with free speech principles” and “copyright’s purpose is to promote the creation and publication of free expression.”  Scalia signed on.

Although Scalia did not take the pen on copyright decisions, he voted with Ginsburg in every case where she controlled the pen.  In 2001, he joined her very first copyright opinion for the Court in New York Times v. Tasini.  Her opinion rejected the premise that publishers could republish authors’ print articles in a database without further permission, because the database did not meet the statutory definition of a revised collective work.   

In 2014, in Petrella v. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Scalia joined Ginsburg in rejecting the equitable doctrine of laches, after a movie studio claimed that it was unfair for a copyright owner (the heir of the author who wrote the screenplay for Raging Bull) to delay the filing of her lawsuit over many years.  Ginsburg refused to curtail the copyright owner’s relief, noting that the suit was properly filed within the statutory window, and that it is wholly reasonable under the Copyright Act for a copyright owner to consider the defendant’s profits in deciding whether and when to file suit.   

Of course, Ginsburg didn’t always write for the majority, and Scalia parted ways with his colleague on a couple of occasions.  In 2009, both Justices supported the Court’s unanimous opinion penned by Justice Souter in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Grokster (the famous file-sharing case), but Scalia did not go so far as to join Ginsburg’s deep dive concurrence into the Ninth Circuit’s misapplication of the Sony Betamax case. 

More puzzling—and more extreme because of the defendant’s purposeful efforts to elude the Copyright Act—was Scalia’s dissent in the 2014 case American Broadcasting Company v. Aereo, which was the final copyright case of his career.  Here, Scalia declined to join Justices Breyer, Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Kagan in finding Aereo liable for retransmitting television content over the Internet without permission.  In his dissent, joined by Thomas and Alito, Scalia rejected the premise that Aereo performed like a cable system under the Copyright Act, calling the majority’s reasoning, “guilt by resemblance.” Pointing to Congress, he quipped, “it is not our job to apply laws that have not yet been written.”

Ginsburg’s only copyright dissent came in the 2013 publishing case Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons.  Justice Breyer, writing for the majority, declined to stop an unauthorized seller from importing textbooks into the United States, although it was clear that the publisher had manufactured and priced the books specifically and solely for foreign markets.  Rejecting the majority’s reasoning, Ginsburg said that both the text and legislative history of the Copyright Act made clear that Congress had enacted a national, not international, first sale doctrine.  True to form, Scalia joined Ginsburg’s dissent, except for the parts where she discussed legislative history. 

Copyright questions are not a part of Judge Barrett’s confirmation hearings, as the Senate is focused as it should be on both her qualifications and pervading questions of religion, healthcare, and social justice.  But if Barrett is confirmed, it is inevitable that she will hear copyright cases on any number of issues, from exclusive rights to fair use to first sale.  If so, Barrett would be exceptionally well-served by looking to the wisdom, clarity, and precedent of Ginsburg’s writings, as their mutual friend and colleague would surely have agreed.

Maria A. Pallante is President and CEO of AAP and a former Register of Copyrights.  She appreciates the research assistance of law clerk Renata C. Mitchell, a student at the George Washington University Law School.