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
A very interesting post in the Scholarly Kitchen today, Crowdsourcing, Reference Works, and Peer Review: Some surprising Connections. Kent Anderson, the author of the post, discusses a plenary session at the PSP conference and the debate that ensued around the future of the reference book. A clip from Anderson’s post:
Last week, during the PSP plenary debate that touched on the future of the reference book, the opposition made two statements as if they were unassailable facts:
- Getting authors to write things is expensive and requires a lot of motivation that only the prestige and importance of the current system can generate
- Quality reference information can’t be generated via crowdsourcing Continue reading
Great article on The Scholarly Kitchen blog by Kent Anderson, who is questioning a recent survey on student preference of print textbooks. A clip from the blog post:
Anderson says, “The survey is drawing the wrong conclusion by framing the question in terms of media choice. It’s not about print versus electronic. It’s about economics and selection.
Imagine if someone asked you if you wanted to pay more for something and have limited selection. Would you trade a cheaper format with a broader selection for something you’d calculate as more costly and less abundant? Only if you’re a devoted early adopter.
For the vast majority of students, print textbooks are economically superior to e-books simply because there’s a robust used book market for expensive print textbooks. Buy them new, sell them back. Want them cheaper? Buy them used. The market is much more favorable and robust.” end clip
Later in the post, Anderson states, “As an aside, I have yet to find this survey released in any form other than a press release. That’s not a good sign. It makes me think the whole thing was about generating the press release.” I’ll add to Anderson’s speculation by repeating something I heard at the Charleston Conference last week. Can you really trust surveys that boast student’s reliance on the print book which are sponsored by college bookstores?
Very interesting post in SSP’s Scholarly Kitchen from June 14th – “The Latest Library As Purchaser Crisis: Are We Fighting the Wrong Battle?” by Kent Anderson. Anderson discusses the site licensing issues between libraries and publishers, using examples from Nature, Elsevier, and Univ. of California system. He says, ” The fatal flaw of site licensing is that it pits traditional allies against each other, effectively putting libraries and publishers on opposing teams. This flaw points out how non-strategic site licensing has been for libraries and publishers.”
Here is a link to the University of California letter to faculty concerning this issue.
Site licensing appears to be the preferred business model for eBooks in academic libraries. Are we making a mistake?
Interesting article in the Scholarly Kitchen blog today, Blogging Software as A disruptive publishing tool, is there anything it can’t do? The author, Kent Anderson, discusses the popularity and success of blogs as a replacement for traditional news sources (ie Huffington Post and NYT) and possibly for books. He discusses LeanPub as an option for blogs to be published as books, specifically:
Another new venture, LeanPub, purports to use WordPress so that blog owners can publish their blogs as books, or write books using WordPress at LeanPub and then publish them. I’ve tried LeanPub. I uploaded the Scholarly Kitchen’s posts through mid-May 2010 into it. The resulting book . . . well, it doesn’t exist. I tried uploading the blog twice, and no dice. Nothing ever came out of their conversion engine. Nevertheless, the site seems to be about 80% right, and there’s no reason to think it won’t work at some point. (Remember, part of disruption is that things like this get dismissed too easily, and then incumbents forget they’re coming.)Kent Anderson under, The Scholarly Kitchen, May 2010
The entire article is worth a read.