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Pearson Replacing Print Textbooks with Digital For College Students
#1  drjenkins 07-17-2019, 11:52 AM
I just saw this on Slashdot:

Pearson Ditches Print Textbooks For College Students in Digital-First Strategy

They claim that switching focus from updating and printing paper textbooks to keeping digital products current will save them money and reduce the cost to students. They claim that their ebook prices range from about $40-$80 while paper editions can run $200-$300.

We are well into the 21st century, it is about time that textbooks finally catch up with the late 20th century.
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#2  jhowell 07-17-2019, 12:14 PM
I wonder whether a recent change to how they make their ebooks available on Amazon is related to this. It seems that these textbooks are only sold there with strong DRM.

https://www.mobileread.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=320762
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#3  ilovejedd 07-17-2019, 12:15 PM
Oh please. This is a cash grab, pure and simple. No more secondhand book market to contend with.
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#4  leebase 07-17-2019, 12:33 PM
Quote ilovejedd
Oh please. This is a cash grab, pure and simple. No more secondhand book market to contend with.
Professors have been gaming that system for a long time, coming out with new editions every year and requiring the latest edition....ruining used text books anyway.

There is a missing competition mechanism enabling the absurdly high prices of college textbooks having nothing to do with paper vs ebook.
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#5  jhowell 07-17-2019, 01:51 PM
There are alternatives, such as the Open Textbook Library, that could in the long run upend the textbook market in the same way the Wikipedia did the encyclopedia market. In the mean time they (Pearson) are going to grab the cash while they can.

Quote
Textbooks every student can access and afford

Open textbooks are textbooks that have been funded, published, and licensed to be freely used, adapted, and distributed. These books have been reviewed by faculty from a variety of colleges and universities to assess their quality. These books can be downloaded for no cost, or printed at low cost. All textbooks are either used at multiple higher education institutions; or affiliated with an institution, scholarly society, or professional organization. The library currently includes 635 textbooks, with more being added all the time.
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#6  tomsem 07-17-2019, 04:19 PM
Quote jhowell
There are alternatives, such as the Open Textbook Library, that could in the long run upend the textbook market in the same way the Wikipedia did the encyclopedia market. In the mean time they (Pearson) are going to grab the cash while they can.
That’s fine for high school and below, but that will not ever include more specialized college and graduate level textbooks.

I’ve been looking at math books recently. I’m kind of appalled at how horrible they can be when rendered in reflowable format (replace formulas with embedded image, some of the Apple Books samples were unreadable). I think this is a case where I would strongly prefer PDF (Google offers both in some cases). But this is just a sample of a handful of titles that I looked at.
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#7  Philippe D. 07-17-2019, 05:53 PM
Quote tomsem
That’s fine for high school and below, but that will not ever include more specialized college and graduate level textbooks.
I don't see why not. I had a quick look, and there are at least some reasonable college textbooks in my field (computer science) over there. Higher level books typically don't make their authors any decent money anyway, so I don't see why they shouldn't release them under open licenses.
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#8  tomsem 07-17-2019, 10:42 PM
Quote Philippe D.
I don't see why not. I had a quick look, and there are at least some reasonable college textbooks in my field (computer science) over there. Higher level books typically don't make their authors any decent money anyway, so I don't see why they shouldn't release them under open licenses.
Perhaps open source textbooks will gain some momentum, but I’m not seeing it.

I don’t fully understand how Pearson is successful selling textbooks given what is available on the internet for free. If I were teaching computer science, I would not be have my students buying and reading textbooks, I’d have them writing code every day, and coming up with projects on their own.

Khan Academy seems quite good for k-12 and there are no textbooks involved.
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#9  pwalker8 07-18-2019, 07:31 AM
Quote tomsem
Perhaps open source textbooks will gain some momentum, but I’m not seeing it.

I don’t fully understand how Pearson is successful selling textbooks given what is available on the internet for free. If I were teaching computer science, I would not be have my students buying and reading textbooks, I’d have them writing code every day, and coming up with projects on their own.

Khan Academy seems quite good for k-12 and there are no textbooks involved.
There is a pretty big difference between k-12 and college.

Perhaps there are a lot of programming material available for free on the internet, but quite a bit of what is available for free in many subjects is questionable at best. I certainly wouldn't want to drive across a bridge designed by someone who learned civil engineering and bridge building from free articles on the internet.

There are certain classic programming books, some of which are college text books, others are not, that every programmer should read. For the most part, a good college education will give you are framework for continuing to educate yourself for the rest of your life. That's true of most subjects.
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#10  olderTechnology 07-18-2019, 02:16 PM
I wonder what incentive there is for a professor to actually use open source? Probably not much. My wife's new German textbook costs $200. How much has German changed in the last few years?
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