Whacking down “text” prices, eh?

Posted on January 31, 2017



That’s the link to an article about the latest trend in textbooks:   “day-one access.”  Instead of buying a book at the bookstore, you pay a price and bam! you can download on the first day of class.   At first they tried selling the stuff at 2/3 original price, then went down to 32-35%, and then to 20%.

My inner Hermione says:   make it *real* access! I want to read ahead!

Also… 20% of what a text would cost?   What effect is that going to have on the quality of the interactive, online materials?   Research and development?

The article goes on to discuss the profit cycle — how a new edition is when you sell a bunch of texts, and then … used books erode your sales like a hurricane at the Outer Banks. The “digital access” removes that entirely.   You need to pay full price (albeit much less).   I believe the nice ones give you access for a year if you have to repeat…

They mention that McGraw-Hill has acquired learning platforms including ALEKS (they leave Connect out), and note that that fewer than 6% of students find “other providers” (than the bookstore) for their materials.   (Financial aid isn’t even mentioned here.)

Now, SURPRISE 🙂   They talk about open! Culture change!  David Harris of OpenStax talks about the idea of unrestricted access — so we Hermiones *could* digest the whole book in eighth grade if we so chose 🙂 (and if it were really open, make our own version), as opposed to some of the platforms which limit how many pages you have access to at a time and other limitations which I suppose might be to prevent pirating and/or cheating. Now, there’s a research project or four:   exploring the different worlds of the people in college to learn, and the people in college courses because, say, that’s what their athletic scholarship or “career program” decreed.

I rather like the idea of abandoning the idea of trying to make “cheating” to get a “grade” impossible and finding good ways of accessing and assessing your competencies.   Make it reasonably hard to cheat, and find reasonably good ways of discerning what you know afterwards.

Then the article talks about David Wiley’s blog post  and the idea that unless OER get some of those features of the platforms, OER-land will be like a jungle and commercial platforms its harvesters.   End users won’t want to navigate the vastness, especially if different resources require different technology, and will rightfully desire sophisticated activities.   Funding that is a real challenge in OER world (per David Lippman’s comment on David Wiley’s older blog post – whose math book I like but — like him — wish had more interactives, and — like David Wiley — wish it had adaptability)   but… if the publishers are whacking down their prices, they may be challenged as well.   I could also imagine a publisher being willing to commission a project and pay for it even if they didn’t have exclusive rights to it.   If they need it, they’ll want it to exist.   They can dress it up their own way.  (It could have to say about the OER part that ‘you can get this free at:  ” per the “advocating for CC-BY” post).

And then there is today’s swell of new-to-me students … whew!   definitely a ride-at-lunch day and… not a “Tuesday’s are dead quiet” day 😉



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