The iPad may not usher in E-Textbooks
Why am I not hearing about plans for real E-Textbooks being developed or released. Why was there so much talk of them at the beginning of the year coinciding with the announcement of the iPad? Was that talk just about satisfying the legislators who were politically concerned about the strain of expensive textbooks on higher education. But really, nothing seems to be happening. If you dig you still hear all the excuses about a complicated business model. But you also hear the same old ridiculous ideas like time bombing the digital copies or still demanding nearly the same prices. So are the textbook publishers going to step up to the plate? I don’t think they are, I think they are content to manipulate the market as long as they can with the belief that they will always control the textbook industry.
In talking with faculty I get the sense that they are ready for a change. They realize that they have access to equivalent digital material that used to be the foundation of their textbooks. Doesn’t mean they want to spend the time to build out a new course, but they are open to alternatives. One alternative that may not be that far away are the various forms of self or university controlled digital publishing. Distribution is not an issue, Amazon or Apple present excellent options or maybe Google ends up winning it all. Maybe the bookstores grab the action as in Follett’s CafeScribe. Pearson Education could be well positioned. CourseSmart’s may be able to go with the flow.
The answer may lie with the question of whether textbooks are really needed anymore. Let’s face it, all of the information that exists in most textbooks is available digitally throughout our Internets. Devices such as the iPad may not usher in the E-Textbook era, they might eliminate it.
May 31, 2010 – Wired Epicenter
Amazon Vs. Apple be Dammed: Publishers Pine for a Universal e-Book Format