E-Textbooks: Now THIS is Forward Thinking…

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I read a very small article in Publishers Weekly today:  Ingram and Taylor & Francis Sign E-Textbook Partnership.  There was actually no by-line on this announcement to attribute it to a person being the source.  Although this was a very small blurb of an article, it foretells monumental changes that will be occurring in the textbook publishing field in the near future.

Thinking Differently, You Don’t Say

The article in a nutshell said this:

“Under the program, students who purchase a Routledge Interactive textbook will receive 12-month complimentary access to the e-textbook through Ingram’s VitalSource Bookshelf platform. Each title includes specially-tailored interactive content, ranging from embedded videos to walkthroughs and quizzes to best suit the needs of each textbook.

Business is always a changing dynamic, and the publishing industry is no different from any other industry in terms of change and renewal.  This announcement is a harbinger that some publishing executives are getting the message:  Think Differently or GO HOME.  If you are unwilling to think in directions that may be unorthodox, you are betting on mediocrity for sustained revenue streams.  With the amount of changes that are occurring all over the book world, this is a recipe for demise.

Corporate symbiosis is a way to ensure revenue coffers stay full.  Who better to partner with than Ingram?  Ingram with CoreSource and Lightning Source as umbrella units that cover electronic format distribution and print-on-demand fulfillment is the perfect partner to make a publisher successful in any format delivery system.  Taylor & Francis with a past history of excellence in the textbook publishing field, has staked out territory that other publishers can only view and salivate over.

Lack of Executive Vision Means Out-of-Business

As the old saying goes, if you continue to make buggy whips because you have always made buggy whips and that is what you produce, you will eventually be buggy whipped out of business.  Flexibility, innovation and constant analysis for a changing industry landscape will put you in the driver’s seat in the long run and ensure continued viability and profitability as a corporate entity.  Deviating from the normal constraints of due diligent business practices in an evolving and volatile economic environment is tantamount to corporate suicide.

Here is another quote from the original article:

“By providing these enhanced e-textbooks, with interactive content embedded within the text, we are empowering students and educators to more easily access our digital content and create their own personalized learning experience, combining the best of print and digital,” said David Cox, head of digital publishing and development, Routledge Books.

Corporate Planning:  “It goes to 11.”

A personalized learning system is what most publishers are looking to get out to the Marketplace.  Thinking differently, partnering, doing the unexpected are all traits and signs of a company that is forging a successful future off the beaten track.  It still remains to be seen if this partnering will be the dominant player in the textbook field, but with the track records of those involved, I think this will be a marriage that will be mutually beneficial to both parties in the short-term and down the road as well.  Thinking differently in this case means, “It goes to 11.”



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8 responses to “E-Textbooks: Now THIS is Forward Thinking…

  1. StJohn

    I would love to check out an interactive textbook. I presume these would also be regularly revised as required. (that would be an “11”)

    • Based on the companies involved, I would think the revision process would be fairly simple. Getting alternate media into electronic products is a great way to get students involved in the overall learning process. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Doug Goldenberg-Hart

    I don’t think T&F are pioneering here – they are joining a bandwagon of textbook publishers using CoreSource and Lightning Source. Embedded content is new for T&F. But are they building Learning Management platform that flows into the gradebook? If not, they will likely lag behind Cengage, Pearson, McGraw-Hill and Wiley.

  3. Skeptic

    I don’t know, if you look at ebook sales by channel, etexts are a very, very small slice of overall revenue. Professors are a pretty conservative bunch when it comes to technology. People have been talking about ebooks taking hold in education markets for 15 years – and investing in products – and consumers have yawned and sat on their wallets. Surveys of students say ebooks are just not popular. And the upside benefits of etexts – multimedia, interactivity, customization – come at a high price tag (software engineeers come much more expensive than authors). What makes you think students want etexts and are willing to pay a premium for them? And if they don’t want them, won’t pay for them, why should publishers invest in them? Why be first? If market dynamics change, it will be easier and more profitable to enter more mature etext markets.

    • I’m not sure where you get your information but most of it seems to be wrong. E-texts are taking off like e-books overall in education and elsewhere in the revenue streams of publishers. School districts don’t want to keep paying for textbooks when they can get E-texts that will be revised continuously. Students don’t want to be carrying the weight of textbooks around and also are more tuned in to the technologies that are bourgeoning in the publishing business and elsewhere. Kids are carrying smartphones and are more tuned in to Social Media and electronic and digital formats than anyone else in this society. It only makes sense for educators and publishers to work hand in hand to make technological tools that are useful and succeed in the process of getting knowledge in the hands of the next generation, whether by print texts or e-texts.

    • Our Platform aPperbook is designed specifically for K12, so does not require a K12 student to buy one book at a time with a credit card, that’s the problem with the systems designed already for 3rd Level. It’s been used by a K12 Publisher here in Ireland for the past 2 years, and you are dead right, the unexpected upside has been increased participation in extra curricular activities, now the heavy bag is gone. aPperbook is a great transitional product for textbook publishers, again correct, the cost of building interactive books is immense, our system gives you the books as it was, if you want to add interactive elements, that can be done. At the recent NSBA conference BYOD was a big trend, the platform needs to work on multiple device types suitable for education and work in offline mode as well as online. Publisher maintains/increases market share with modest investment, student gets digital textbooks, win win.

  4. I’ve taken things one step further with my online textbook creation platform. Professor authors can create their own textbooks, update them at will, and there’s an interactive assessment component. And, they’re super easy to create (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJOn9LZxRt0). The challenge of course, is to get professor authors who are willing to explore the new paradigm.

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