Tag Archives: Forbes

Digital Textbooks and Open Educational Resources – Summary of SOCHE Think TV session

On Tuesday, May 3rd I recorded a 15 minute segment for the Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education on Think TV, the local public television station in Dayton, Ohio.  My topic was the rise of digital textbooks and options available for students and faculty to access and produce textbooks and learning materials.  Below is a snapshot of my general comments with links to various sources for more information.

Our current textbook system is broken.  We have arrived at $200 textbooks and have students who cannot afford them.  As a result, students try to borrow a textbook from the library or a friend (sometimes the older edition), purchase a used one, or go without.  Neither of these options provides revenue to the publisher, thus resulting in higher price points in an effort to recover the costs or production.   What can we do about this catch 22? Continue reading

New articles of interest

Articles I’ve bookmarked this week include:

College Bookstores Hope to Turn Their Web Sites Into E-Book Portals

In Defense Of Google Books – Forbes.com

DRM viewpoints: Michael Gartenberg vs. Michael Masnick

On the ropes? Robert Darnton’s Case for Books – 9/14/2009 – Publishers Weekly

Google Signs Print-on-Demand Deal for Two Million Public Domain Titles – 9/17/2009 – Library Journal

Tim O’Reilly: Kindle needs open ePub-style standard to survive, from Teleread.org

Tim O’Reilly: Kindle needs open ePub-style standard to survive
www.teleread.org – Posted: 23 Feb 2009 08:40 AM CST
“Unless Amazon embraces open e-book standards like ‘epub,’ which allow readers to read books on a variety of devices, the Kindle will be gone within two or three years.” – Tim O’Reily in Why Kindle should be an open book, in Forbes.

The TeleRead take: It’s hard to tell how things will shake out, but Tim persuasively summons up a little history—Microsoft’s failed attempt with the Microsoft Network publishing platform. By contrast, O’Reilly got on the Web early with the Global Net Navigator and in time was well rewarded for the experience it gained with an open approach.

The point is, closed standards are a pain in the rear for e-book-lovers and other users who inevitably will want hardware or content that isn’t compatible with MegaCorp’s system. This disillusionment is a little akin to decaying Web links. At first, people buy into Mega’s plans and think that its  proprietary product line will endure forever. Only later do the hassles emerge.

E-book lessons from Oprah’s past
Remember how Oprah touted Gemstar e-book readers some years ago? But then consumers rebelled against a limited choice of books. Even now, following her backing of the Kindle, Oprah fans are finding that many O-blessed books are missing. Last I knew, she wasn’t doing a K version of her O magazine. Her fans may also have been put off by the complexities of the technology, to which proprietary formats can add.

While Jeff Bezos can talk of offering every book in E, he’s jeopardizing his own version by aiming for exclusives. What happens when other giants step in and start bidding wars—not just for temporary exclusivity but in time for the permanent variety?

The score that really counts in book-selling

More importantly, Jeff should also remember that the most meaningful score in the book-selling isn’t market share but healthy growth of earnings. Closed standards like the Kindle’s will slow down the rate of e-book adoption, as people find that his supposedly universal solution isn’t one at all.

What’s more, with Kindle-type DRM, all kinds of nasty issues emerge, such as the inability of readers to own their books for real. Jeff was smart enough to set up a music store without DRM. He should consider the the same for e-books, using social DRM, if need be, in place of “real” DRM. Publishers could still have the option of using DRM, but I suspect that market pressures would encourage back off from this consumer nightmare. DRM is especially nasty in that it turns nonproprietary e-formats into proprietary ones.
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