ATG Hot Topic of the Week: The Textbook Market

by Jonathan H. Harwell, Rollins College

As Audrey Watters explains, there have been a few disruptions in the textbook market lately, and InsideHigherEd is all over it.  Doug Lederman takes a closer look at Boundless, which bundles open-access content (including Wikipedia) for students as a substitute for buying textbooks.  I tested Boundless (you have to create a free account to try it out), and I couldn’t find a single book.  We’ll see how it progresses.

Brian Kibby, President of McGraw-Hill Higher Education, says “the publishing industry needs to do all it can to ensure that within 36 months, higher education in the U.S. will be completely digital. I’m not talking about a slight or even gradual increase in e-book adoptions or the use of adaptive learning. I’m talking about a total transition from a reliance on print textbooks to a full embrace of digital content and learning systems. Aside from the college library, you hopefully won’t be able to find a printed textbook on a college campus in three years. And if you are, we should all be disappointed” (full essay here).

Barbara Fister talks about Kibby’s piece, as well as alleged e-book price-fixing, as examples of what one might call the over-monetization of culture.

Meanwhile, we’re still keeping an eye on this case, which some say could prevent libraries from lending books published in other countries.  The Supreme Court has decided to take it up.  (Note the amicus briefs here.)

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