I've always been interested in new editions of books. Growing up I always thought that there was a certain immortality that came from publishing, but if you can constantly amend what you had previously said by releasing a new edition, how does that alter my childhood conception?
For example, for some time now I've been meaning to read The World Is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman, but it seems like every time I look there is a new edition that has just been released. One could argue that this semi-episodic release form humanizes writing by further endowing the book with flexible qualities. It takes the static relationship and makes it a dialogue between readers and writers. Still, time and money are limited. If each edition is largely the same information, then what is the incentive for picking up the latest edition?
Well, in answer to that question I decided to do a side-by-side comparison of the fourth and fifth editions of The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors by Leigh Ryan and Lisa Zimmerelli. While I found much of information to be the same, there were some notable differences, both good and bad.
In the fifth edition some minor changes in "The Writing Center as Workplace" emphasize the "personal" in terms of how the tutor (to borrow from Burke) catches the tenor of writing center theory and practice. While tutors are still encouraged to learn about writing center history and to keep a personal journal, the fifth edition has opted out of proposing the option of maintaining a group journal. Still, this modification is relatively minor considering that both editions encourage tutors to participate in discussion forums, and we can see how the fourth edition pointed toward this option being eventually merged by acknowledging that much of what was being suggested, if done digitally, would be very similar to the use of an in-house writing center blog.
Other minor changes include reorganizing the information. For example, in the "Tutoring in a Digital Age" section (the new version of "Tutoring and Technology"), you will no longer find a section on face-to-face computer tutoring listed, as the emphasis of this section seems to have shifted toward online tutoring. Don't panic. If you jump over to section four ("Helping Writers throughout the Writing Process") you will see that there is a sub-section titled "Working with a Text at a Computer," and here you will find that much of the fourth edition content has been identically transferred in a numbered layout.
In terms of modifications, one thing I found interesting was the revision of language in the sub-section now titled "The Second Language Writer" (previously "The Writer for Whom English Is a Second Language"). I found the additions of "The Learner" hat for tutors to try on and exercises for the digital tutoring section to be useful expansions.
I was also pleased that the authors have kept the appendix information on presenting at a conference and tutoring or editing outside of the writing center, as these sections help tutors to recognize that the skills they gain through their work have value outside of the center and, with regards to the conference, invite them to contribute to the scholarly work that is being done in the field. For this reason, because I appreciate any attempt to bridge the gap between tutors seeing what they are doing as a job and recognizing that there is a possibility for similar work to be a career, I was disappointed that the annotated bibliography was not kept for the fifth edition.
So, while this review is in no way comprehensive, both guides are incredibly helpful for their breadth, and tutors, writing center directors, and anyone who has a stake more generally in composition will want to pay close attention to the newest edition of The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors.