As some of you might have heard by now through the blogvine, my new co-authored reading coursebook, Fiction in Action: Whodunit has jointly won the 2010 Duke of Edinburgh award (*). This is exciting for obvious personal reasons of course, but here are some other possible ramifications of the award which make me especially proud:
1. Whodunit is at heart a task-based title, although this sometimes gets overshadowed by its more explicit Narrow Reading focus. There are not many examples out there of how ‘strong’ TBLT can be integrated into commercial textbooks (two exceptions here and here), so this particular prize could serve to remind the industry that it is possible sometimes to sidestep that all-pervasive grammar syllabus.
2. As far as I know, this is the first time a fully Asia produced and developed title aimed at a worldwide market has won a major award. It would be thrilling if this were to herald the emergence of Asia as major creative force in the industry on par with Europe and North America. For far too long has the region had to make do with titles produced elsewhere and with different students and teachers in mind!
3. Our publisher, ABAX, is one of several ‘indie’ publishers currently thriving in Japan and other national markets. Ours isn’t the first innovative title they have put out, nor will it be the last. If we can bring some attention to what Abax and other independent publishers have been doing in the shadow of the larger multinationals, then perhaps that alone can help to infuse some much needed innovation into the ‘coursebook industrial complex’.
4. Also worth mentioning is the Creative Commons side of things. I’ve posted about this before at the Abax blog, but I sincerely believe that copyright is one of the great issues of our time. A free and vibrant culture depends upon a fair and flexible policy of rights management–and the draconian enforcement of 19th Century laws in our digital age is simply not the way to go. I don’t presume to know the best option for every creator out there, but I do know that our CC edition of Whodunit is doing very well indeed, and if anything is leading to greater sales of the print edition. So download it, share it, copy it, and try it out in class; if you like it, pay what it was worth to you–or simply order the convenient and feature-packed print version the following semester. Hurrah for freedom! Hurrah for choice!
Unfortunately, one short term downside to this award is that I will need to take a brief hiatus from the blog. My schedule was already jam-packed with my full time teaching load and conference presentations (next up: JALT 2010)–while I can hardly complain about having to pencil in Prince Philip, the last-minute trip to London is going to be a bit disruptive for the next month or so. Apologies in advance, and I promise to be back in full force at the end of November at the very latest.
(*) This year’s other winner, I was just as thrilled to discover, is none other than MacMillan’s new flagship title Global, penned by Lindsay Clandfield of Six Things blogging fame. This is actually Lindsay’s second trip to Buckingham Palace, the first having been for his co-authored Dealing with Difficulties. I’ve gotten to know Lindsay a bit through blogging (I did a guest post at Six Things recently), and really look forward to meeting him in person next month!