There have been lots of good ideas being floated around at the
O’Reilly Tools of Change Conference for Publishing but I just heard one of the best.
At the conclusion of one of today’s sessions, an audience member asked the panel about the danger of releasing textbooks into academic environments without DRM. Ben Vershbow turned the question around. He responded that the entire notion of textbooks should be rethought, and that textbooks should be thought of as extensions of the classroom learning environment rather than as products — and as such, educational publishers should think of providing text books as a service rather than a product.
View of NYC from the conference site
On Confessions of a Science Librarian: an interview with CJ Rayhill, Senior Vice President at Safari Books Online
“The future of the textbook market is clearly shifting. You have products like SafariU, iChapters, and CourseSmart beginning to emerge to solve a difficult issue — the high cost of textbooks. In addition, most higher-education courses involve exposure to content from multiple sources which makes the cost of purchasing all of the required and recommended reading for students out of reach. So what happens is that students end up not even purchasing required content which must diminish the value of their educational experience.”
“Sebastopol’s O’Reilly’s recent sales bump may be indicative of industry trend…”