In today’s publishing world the big players are pretty much known for their race to the bottom what payments for writers concerns. The story inside the company probably went like this: ETS says to subcontractor “We need a new textbook. This one from Edulang we still have lying around from contract talks is pretty good. We want a similar one.” Subcontractor has too much on his / her plate, gets late with the delivery and starts to copy and paste to meet the deadline. End of story. That does not mean that someone at ETS should not have double checked the book but it also does not mean it was a deliberate act from ETS.
But I am probably even more shocked that the commenters did not know what to say or do – just offering their best wishes.
OK, I understand that if you are under shock you are most likely not able to react, hence the word “shock” has been chosen wisely as it does not implement action from the commenter. Why aren’t they upset, enraged, infuriated or on the barricades instead?
There is a huge difference, especially for the Edulang team, between words and action. Now, I don’t mean that the commenters should sharpen their pitchforks, light up the torches and gather around the ETS Global headquarter but there are things that can be done that have some more impact than that.
The problem are the totally different company cultures. From my visit at Edulang I know that there is a great, personal spirit in the team, and their CEO Michel Nizon really cares about the quality of Edulang’s products and their clients’ success. Something you can only find in small to medium sized businesses. ETS, like other big publishers, is simply too big to care anymore. Caring takes time, resources and effort. If people are buying your products anyway (because they have to) you automatically scale back the caring to maximize the profit.
Which brings us to the solution. If you as an ESL teacher really care about Edulang, or any other small publisher, then you have to vote with your dollars (or Euros). It’s the same like complaining about caging chickens but still buying eggs from battery chickens instead of free range. If you want to change this, buy free range. If you want to crack the monopoly of big publishers, buy from small ones like Edulang. And then tell your colleagues, recommend it to your students, even better, use the material in your classes. If you have a blog, write about it, sell it on your website as affiliate and so on and so forth.
As people say, talk is cheap. Same applies for commenting. My friend Jason Calacanis once said that when one of your friends is publishing a book, it is your duty to buy as many as you can afford and give them to your family, friends and employees. If you want to support small publishers like Edulang, the same rule applies. Letting off steam in the comment section won’t hurt the big publishers. And yes, even buying a book from Edulang won’t change much (if anything at all) for ETS but it will make a huge difference for Edulang. And that’s what counts. So, put your money where your comment is.