Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2002 13:41:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: AASWOMEN for November 15, 2002

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Weekly issue of Nov. 15, 2002, eds. Meg Urry, Patricia Knezek, 
& Michael Rupen

This week's issues:

1. Two additional opinions on expensive introductory textbooks
2. Conference on globular clusters announcement
3. Theory postdoc positions at Northwestern University
4. Closing date extended --  Continuing Fellow/Senior Fellow position 
   in Astronomy at RSAA/ANU

1. Two additional opinions on expensive introductory textbooks

From: Jay Pasachoff

  In reply to my old friend Michele Kaufman, I disagree with the implication 
that publishers bring out new editions without cause. We are very lucky to 
work in a field that changes rapidly, and I know that in my own teaching 
I feel that many chapters feel out of date after a couple of years. Just 
think of all the new discoveries of the last two or three years across the 
board--such as major Kuiper belt objects, progress in adaptive optics, 
statistics of black holes in galaxy centers, and BOOMERanG and other 
high-resolution observations of the cosmic microwave background. To this 
add a wide variety of new Hubble (NICMOS, ACS) and VLT images. I am happy 
that I have a chance to update my book The Cosmos (Alex Filippenko is 
co-author), which would make a 3-year interval when it is published this 

  Michele mentions specifically a physics course. The physics texts may well 
need less-often revision than astronomy books.

  The basic question is whether textbooks are worthwhile, or whether one can 
just teach from miscellaneous Web resources. As you might expect, I think 
students benefit from the organization and selection of material in a good 
astronomy textbook.

  Jay Pasachoff


From: Steve Shawl

As a textbook author (Discovering Astronomy, fourth edition,
Kendall/Hunt), I'd like to provide some brief comments on Margaret Hanson's
thoughts. First, please understand that authors have absolutely nothing
(zero, nada, etc) to do with the cost of the book. (They may not even chose
the title and most likely have only some input to the cover!) Also, you
might be surprised to know that your campus book store marks up the book
tremendously---generally 33.3%. This markup percentage is vastly greater
than the royalty paid to the authors (typically 10-18% of the net cost to
the bookstore). Next, you might want to check how your bookstore deals with
used books. The following example will show you how it works. A student
purchases a new book at, say $100. The bookstore buys it back (IF it will be
used the following semester) for $50 and resells it to them for $75. Thus,
for a book the student buys for $100, the author(s) split about $10-11 and
the bookstore makes $25. Each semester the bookstore buys/sells used books,
the store makes $25. Thus, if used for 3 years, the bookstore will make $150
and the author(s) $11.25. Without being an apologist for the publishers,
please understand some of their costs: editors, illustrators, typography,
permissions costs, printing, warehousing, marketing (which they do too
little of!), shipping, etc. Don't forget the books that publishers send to
faculty as possible adopters (which some faculty then sell to used book
dealers). Don't forget all the added things so many of us like: CD, web
site, overhead transparencies, etc. Yes, costs are high but it's not the
authors, who have gone through hell to write a book that a reasonable number
of people might use!

The ENTIRE problem, as I understand it, is the used book market,
which kills reasonable profits for publishers and authors. It contributes to
a narrower field of choices of books. Editors will choose to publish a book
that will make the profits they want, no matter how good the book. IF the
used book market could be killed, it would be possible for publishers to
sell more new books at a smaller unit cost to the student and thus make
their profits. The students would save and the publishers would be happy. My
publisher was considering publishing the book without binding but with
three-hole punch, which would then go into a binder; such a book would not
be able to be sold back. The idea, then, was to sell more new books but at a
lower price. The summer before it came out, they did some marketing However,
at my request, the publisher did print some copies this way, and I ordered
it for my students. The results were mixed: at first students didn't like
it, but after a while, many/most (?) liked it. They could carry around only
what they needed; they could interleave their notes with the chapters, etc.
Some, however, felt it was not a "real" book. (The problem was that the
publisher did not cut the price, so the students paid the full price for an
unbound book they could not sell back. Not a good situation, and not one
produced by the author!)

Yes, the web has a tremendous amount of material. However, what a
textbook brings is a storyline that links disparate concepts and ideas
together. A textbook will provide a flow and growth to the learning.
Web-based lecture notes can be extremely useful, but, while I am probably
biased, I believe students must have a book. Not having a book tells the
student that reading is unimportant. It tells them the concepts are so
trivial that they need not study them. I believe it lends itself to lower
level learning. I personally do not believe a lecture can possibly provide
all the information on a topic I want my students to understand.
Furthermore, educational research shows the strong limitations of lectures.
Even the best presentations usually do not provide long-term understanding,
but that's a discussion for another day! 

Thus, I've tried to suggest that there are ways we faculty can have
some influence on the cost. I hope I've provided a bit of useful information
on the topic of texts.

Steve Shawl
University of Kansas

2. Conference on globular clusters announcement
From: Fred Rasio

          Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics Conference on 


                         January 27 - 31, 2003
                    KITP, Santa Barbara, California

         Coordinators: L. Bildsten, A. Cool, F. Rasio, S. Zepf

More information and online registration at:

3. Theory postdoc positions at Northwestern University
From: Fred Rasio

Dearborn Observatory
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60208-2900
Phone: 847 491 7650
Attention: Secretary, Theory Postdoc Positions

E-mail submissions: Ben Acheff,

E-mail inquiries to: Vicky Kalogera,

A minimum of two and possibly more postdoctoral positions in theoretical
astrophysics will be available in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
at Northwestern University with possible starting dates as early as
January 2003. The Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Northwestern currently
includes Profs. V. Kalogera, F. Rasio and R. Taam, four postdoctoral
fellows (K. Belczynski, J. Faber, P. Grandclement, and N. Ivanova) and
five graduate students. We are particularly interested in candidates with
interests and prior experience in the following research areas: compact
object physics, gravitational wave sources and data analysis, numerical
relativity and relativistic hydrodynamics, binary stellar evolution, X-ray
and nuclear astrophysics, dense star cluster dynamics, and extra-solar
planetary systems. Initial appointments will be for 2 years with likely
renewal for a third year. Applications from women and minority candidates
are especially encouraged.

Applicants should send their CV, list of publications, a brief statement
of research interests (up to 4 pages), and arrange for a minimum of 3
recommendation letters to be received by December 15, 2002. Later
applications will be considered until all positions are filled.

4. Closing date extended --  Continuing Fellow/Senior Fellow position 
   in Astronomy at RSAA/ANU
From: Theresa Gallagher


Fellow /Senior Fellow 
(Level C/D) 

The Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics (RSAA)is seeking a Fellow 
or Senior Fellow to join its vigorous research program to undertake full 
time, self-directed research in astronomy and astrophysics and to 
participate in the School's graduate training program.  This is a continuing 

RSAA is at the forefront of observational and theoretical research in 
exoplanetary science, stellar evolution, interstellar physics, galactic 
structure, galaxy dynamics and evolution, high energy astrophysics,
extragalactic astronomy, and cosmology.  The appointee will have experience 
in observational and/or theoretical studies in these areas. Special 
opportunities exist in connection with the Institute of Advanced Studies' 
cosmology initiative at RSAA. 

RSAA operates the Mount Stromlo & Siding Spring Observatories and has an 
astronomical instrumentation program currently providing instrumentation for 
the Gemini telescopes.  RSAA staff have access to Australia's radio and 
optical astronomical facilities/partnerships (including the Australia 
National Telescope Facility, the Anglo-Australian Telescope and Gemini) and 
ANU supercomputing facilities. 

The appointment will be at the Fellow or Senior Fellow level within the 
salary range $AUD65,215 - $AUD85,797 per annum plus re-location allowance.
The University offers a generous superannuation package. 

Applicants are advised to refer to the RSAA website: 

Contact:  Professor Penny Sackett, Director, telephone (61 2)6125 0266,
fax: (61 2) 6125 0260 or email: . 

Selection criteria:  Must be sought before applying from telephone (61 2)6125 0203, fax (61 2)6125 0224 

Reference: RSAA1123 

Closing Date: extended to 13 December 2002