I often think of those jokey, cartoony ESOL books from the 80s, because for me they were such fun. Was it just that I was new to teaching, or was there something about teaching English with Streamline and Contact English? Of course, when I wanted to find examples of Contact English recently, I couldn’t, though we still have the wallcharts at work. I looked online, but it seems that it’s OOP (out of print), and that always feels sad. There may be newer, more comprehensive or up-to-date books around, but sometimes there was something in an old book that you’d really like to use…

What happens to out of print books?

As a writer, if you’ve written a book that’s gone out of print, there should be a ‘reversion’ clause in the contract, where the rights return to you (less common these days with the possibility of print on demand, so books can technically stay in print forever).

However, what returns to you is the content you supplied – not the finished form – and sometimes the layout and illustrations are what make a book really work. So I felt really appreciative when Pearson Education said they’d be happy to let me put a pdf of SpellingWorks online as a free download (and our fabulous illustrator Shane Nagle also agreed).

Maureen Hague and I wrote SpellingWorks back in 1996, but I still get enquiries about it. It’s a book of spelling strategies, for people who have some basics, but get stuck around the irregularities of English. It’s more of a book for high schools, with a general rather than ESOL/EAL focus, but I wanted to mention it here.

You can find it at spellingworks.com, as well as some useful links and my ‘in hindsight’ thoughts.

Happy spelling (and happy hunting down old books, hopefully to find they’re as wonderful as you remember them…)