As the New Year springs us forward into perpetuity, Janna and I are delighted to share the news with you that we have finally taken the advice of our Hardcore ASL students and instructors who have wanted to have all seven levels — all the teaching — in a single reference book.  Introducing, from Boles Books Writing and Publishing — Hardcore ASL Textbook for Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 — available right now from Kindle Direct Publishing:

Here’s a little taste of American Sign Language HandShapes from the book:

The HandShapes — how you form your hand to help create the sign — varies in each section, and you will see how they change and expand as you progress through the learning. HandShapes are a critical part of ASL. You can’t say, “we am walking” with HandShape V or 5. You must use HandShape 1. Be sure to memorize all the HandShapes linked to your syllabus. A lot of times Hearing students don’t pay attention — or focus enough — in creating their HandShapes and often the “signs” don’t mean anything or they mean something else. However, there are times when you will see a specific sign for a word can have more than one HandShape and that is perfectly acceptable and confusing. We will help you know the difference between what works and what doesn’t.

If you choose to follow our Hardcore ASL system as written, you’ll spend three weeks per level and finish our program in 21 weeks. All that learning equals 3.5 years of semester-by-semester study at a traditional university! That said, you may also move at your own pace and learn in your own time.

We have been actively teaching ASL online at for many years.  Our students always wanted to have a way to take their learning with them.

We seriously considered using iBooks and iAuthor from Apple to publish our textbook, but we were concerned with censorship and the future viability of a closed system.

There isn’t much proprietary about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing that makes getting your book ready for sale a hard nut to crack.  I created a Google Doc with all seven Hardcore ASL levels, saved it as a .PDF, and then uploaded it to Amazon.

The whole process, from upload to being available online for sale took five hours:  One minute to upload the book and 4:59 for the textbook to propagate across the Amazon servers.

The one great thing Amazon has done is open up the Kindle Book reading experience to any and all devices.  You can read a Kindle book on your computer, smartphone or tablet without any trouble at all.

That ease of portability of your library is the genius of Kindle Direct Publishing.

Janna and I hope you enjoy our Hardcore ASL Textbook for Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 — writing the book has been a lifelong labor of loving — just beware the textbook is text only.  There are no embedded images or video.  American Sign Language is a visual means of communication, and the videos for the textbook are a separate purchase on the website and you can also choose to study on your own, or with us.

The learning decision is all yours and the textbook alone spans over 250 standard typewritten pages and well over 90,000 words!


    1. It was a tough decision to stay with Kindle or move to Apple. It took some time and tide to decide, but sticking with Amazon is the easiest and safest bet. Kindle publishing has been good to us. Why challenge that success? Now we can share all seven Hardcore American Sign Language levels with anyone and everyone and they can work through the book at their own pace without feeling the ticking of a 21-week clock — unless, of course, they want one! SMILE!

      1. Not everyone needs to learn that fast so it is good people can move at their own pace. This also lets other ASL teachers take our work and use our methods as a textbook for their students without us being directly involved.

        1. Exactly right. This opens everything up. Hardcore ASL is now more than just us and our select students. Today, everyone can learn American Sign Language “The Deaf Way.”

  1. What did you do as far as formatting goes to make sure it looks like the great book that I am sure that it is? Some people pay professional book formatters to get their book looking a certain way.

    1. That’s a good question, Gordon. We have always been about plain text in teaching Hardcore ASL. We don’t worry about design or looking pretty. We just want reams of information overflow. That said, we just presented a pretty bare bones .PDF file to Amazon and then let the Kindle format it device-by-device. Since there are so many variables across devices, we didn’t even make hard page breaks. The textbook really is all one idea anyway…

      If we’d gone the Apple route, we would have been more particular about look and feel and page-by-page formatting because that’s a requirement of that system — and if I’d been able to ever figure out how to embed video files on that Apple publishing platform, we might have tumbled down that pathway — but with Kindle publishing, particularity of that nature really wasn’t an issue for us, and for that, we are grateful.

          1. Yes, Apple created a total bummer. .MOV files — pre-edited in iMove — INCOMPATIBLE… and without any help or notification as to how to solve the problem. That created several long months of simmering frustration. I wasn’t going to go back and re-save or re-edit hundreds of videos that were perfectly fine and usable just to get iAuthor to like them.

  2. Congratulations, Janna and David! I know this book was a long time coming and it was quite the job to get it all put together in one textbook.

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