Category Archives: publishing

Textbooks as a service rather than a product

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 from the 38th floor

View of NYC from the conference site

Urs Gasser – report from The Future of Books in the Digital Age


Technological innovations Рdigitization in tandem with network computing – have changed the information ecosystem. From what we’ve learned so far, it’s safe to say that at least some of the changes are tectonic in nature. These structural shifts in the way in which we create, disseminate, access, and (re-)use information, knowledge, and entertainment have both direct and indirect effects on the medium “book” and the corresponding subsystem.

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One example of how online information services improve in-classroom learning

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.”