CourseSmart Saves Students More than $100 Million On Textbooks and Course Materials
Here’s the press release, pretty standard with a quote from the CEO and a student singing their praises.
One note about CourseSmart, in case you didn’t know – it’s the big four’s (Pearson, McGraw, Cengage, & Wiley) most concerted effort to circumvent Amazon & Apple, instead going after direct-to-student e-textbooks. It’s probably best geared toward students that want to access e-textbooks on their laptops. They do have apps for iPad & iPhone but of course require that ebooks are purchased through those apps, as opposed to the more natural flow of using iBooks. Selling ebooks direct-to-students nets them a higher profit than paying Apple or Amazon up to 30% of the purchase price. Because students ultimately decide to buy a device (Kindle/iPad), they then expect e-textbooks to be available on that device. So, the same books served up through the Kindle or iBooks Store will ultimately beat out an option that is catered to laptop users or via a third-party in-app purchase.
College Stores Association Argues Against DOJ, E-Books and E-Textbooks Are Different ( via Digital Book World )
Factually, the terms ‘academic textbook’ and ‘e-textbook’ are not used consistently, so without an explicit definition in the settlement agreement, interpretation of the document will be difficult and could cause publishers to hesitate to experiment in the higher education marketplace. Are ‘the Odyssey’ or ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ academic books when sold for use in a classroom?,” said Marc Fleischaker, of Arent Fox LLP, the NACS counsel.
Since no illegal conduct was alleged in the e-textbook market, the DOJ should make clear that e-textbooks are exempt from the settlement and from the lawsuit, the NACS says. Further, the NACS is urging the court — Judge Denise Cote — to reject the settlement unless it makes this distinction in the e-textbook market.
Majority of College Students Prefer Buying Used Textbooks over Renting Textbooks, New Textbooks & eTextbooks ( via PRWeb )
Textbooks.com, an online textbooks retailer, recently conducted a customer survey to understand college students’ textbook purchasing habits…
Almost 40% of students plan on purchasing more used textbooks this fall while over 30% plan on renting more, and 28% expect to purchase more digital eTextbooks. Sixty percent of students prefer used textbooks, followed by rental (24%), new (9%) and eTextbooks (7%).
This is interesting – makes me wonder how diverse the students polled were. Just playing devil’s advocate, say you asked only juniors & seniors… They’re pretty far along in their major’s course requirements, so we can assume that they prefer to purchased used books so they can keep them for future reference, whether for grad school or generally in their field of study. Rentals are more applicable to freshmen & sophomores, so if the survey polled a higher concentration of older students, they’d certainly be more likely to buy used textbooks, as opposed to renting.
From our own data, orders on FreeTextbooks.com hover close to even – somewhere between 50/50 and 65/35 in favor of rentals. I would expect this number to be even higher for sites that offer really rock-bottom rental prices. Because we offer free 2-day & $10 overnight UPS shipping, we’re usually about $6-8 more expensive than the absolute cheapest rental price on the web.
Regardless, this data also shows a quickly-increasing number of students that plan to purchase e-textbooks. I do wonder what effect the media plays in this with the recurring (& grossly sensationalist) articles proclaiming “print is dead”. Most articles about e-textbooks that actually focus on case studies show that many students quickly ask for their print textbooks back. But, that’s another story…
Research from Xplana, a research arm for Missouri Book Service that is the parent company for Textbooks.com (administrator of this survey), reports that digital textbook sales should double year-over-year from 2012 & beyond. Current estimates put digital textbooks at about 6% of the total higher education textbook, but expected to hit 11% in 2013 & 19.5% in 2014. (Source: Digital Textbook Sales in U.S. Higher Education)
Which leads to this…
Huntsville district ahead in digital textbooks, but state encouraging others to catch up ( via AL.com )
State Superintendent Tommy Bice said an advisory committee met Friday in Montgomery to discuss implementation of Alabama Ahead, a law passed by the Legislature in May that authorizes the Alabama Public School and College Authority to sell and issue up to $100 million in bonds to help local school districts purchase laptop computers or tablets, software and digital textbooks.
Huntsville City Schools’ roll-out of digital textbooks will also be done in phases, though all students will have the necessary hardware at the beginning of the new school year in August. Kindergartners through second-graders will get iPads, which they will use at school only.
Superintendent Casey Wardynski has described the process as a “fading out” of bound textbooks and “fading in” of digital texts. Wardynski said the move to digital will save the district money. He said traditional curriculum costs are about $11.5 million for books and an additional $5 million to $7 million for supplemental materials.
This is happening across the country. State school budgets are strapped for cash & the publishers are there to pitch them on the cost-savings of digital textbooks. Starting in California, Texas, & Florida, school districts from nearly every state are following suit & investigating ways to save money by going with e-textbooks.
If you want to estimate the future adoption of higher education e-textbooks, this is the place to start. Today’s students reach for print because they were trained to learn with print, through the dynamic process of flipped pages, highlighting & note-taking. If today’s elementary (even middle) school students are given iPads, they’re changing their learning dynamic in the formative years leading up to college. For the life of a print textbook, that’s the writing on the wall, right there.
Future post – From textbooks to t-shirts: what the digital classroom means for college stores…