Archive for September, 2010

Only e-texts?

Monday, September 6th, 2010

Ok, here’s an interesting approach

The All E-Book Diet

Here is how it will work at Daytona State, beginning in January: Instead of having professors tell students what books to buy and then letting them try to find the cheapest option regardless of medium, Daytona State will buy a license from publishers to grant students access to electronic versions of the texts and charge them a “digital materials” fee. The college would require publishers to provide e-books that can be read by multiple types of e-reader, including regular computers; students would have to buy a device if they do not already have one, but the college says even then the new system would save them so much on course materials that they would still be paying 50 to 70 percent less than before (the college also owns 4,000 computers that students can use).

Since Daytona State is essentially guaranteeing the equivalent of one e-book sale per student, per course, per semester — and thus no more used textbook market, a perennial drag for publishers, which only see money on new book sales — the college has been able to negotiate huge discounts from the publishers; Spiwak says the digital materials fee will probably end up being less than $30 per textbook (“very few” courses at Daytona State use more than one, Spiwak says). That is less than half the retail price of many e-textbooks, and about quarter the price of many new print textbooks.

I’m not sure how this would fit into the student equity provisions, but as an ‘opt in’ model it looks interesting.  There is still the issue of whether local students are ready for this and how much they think an e-text is worth.