Business Law Students Become Textbook Authors

Students in Bryce Jones’ classes are getting the chance to test their hands at a different kind of business-the textbook business.

Motivated by the high costs and the quality of commercial textbooks, Jones has assigned his students to write all or part of a textbook chapter for his “Legal Environment of Business” course.

Jones initiated this project after experiencing multiple issues with the previous textbook. Since it began three semesters ago, approximately 380 pages have been drafted.

According to Jones, the previous book spent too much time on unnecessary details while neglecting to emphasize central concepts. He also found the material inaccessible for his students.

“In my opinion, [the previous textbook] is written by lawyers, for lawyers. I don’t think they’re writing it to the level of a sophomore,” Jones said.

Students consult relevant resources and rewrite the information they deem important in their own words.

“Many of my students are as bright as textbook authors, and they know their audience better,” Jones said.

Along with text, Jones encourages inclusion of hyperlinks, video, tutorials, charts, real world applications, practice questions and other interactive elements in the chapters.

As the semesters have gone on, students have also assumed the task of modifying previous work. Some of the students’ duties include proofreading, fixing mistakes, revising sentences and adding examples, interesting cases, charts and summaries.

Work-study and graduate students also help edit the book.

“It is helpful for the graduate students since they will see some of the stuff on the CPA exam,” Jones said.

The book is free if accessed online or around $25 if printed, as opposed to the previous textbook, which cost up to $180.

For the fourth edition of the textbook, due out next semester, Jones is looking into going national. He is considering outlets such as Amazon Kindle or Apple iPad.

Jones recognizes the possibility that other business law classes may be able to use all or part of the book as a supplemental resource.  An advantage is that the book offers information specific to the state of Missouri, rather than making general references to state law.

Throughout the project, Jones has been highly impressed with the quality of work from his students.

“My greatest satisfaction has been that students have been able to do this,” he said. “Some people are still skeptical that something like this could be done.”

The textbook is available to anyone in a self-extracting zip file at
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