“Kids won’t even know what that word means,” Jeff Livingston, a McGraw-Hill Education vice president, is quoted as saying in an interview in U.S. News and World Report.
What word is he talking about? Typewriter? Mimeo? Icebox?
It’s textbooks. The students of the near future, according to Livingston, won’t recognize the word because all course materials will be online and provide an interactive experience. Heavy, print, linear tomes will be a thing of the past.
The U.S. News article mainly discusses what kind of computing devices students will need and how much parents should expect to budget for technology expenses, but Livingston’s comments about textbooks offer a glimpse of the direction where educational publishers are heading.
Students currently buy textbooks, regardless of format, from a store or e-commerce site, but Livingston says soon students will purchase all their online course materials through a fee folded into tuition or as a subscription. He estimates those fees/subscriptions will run about $300 to $400 per semester.
If parents were hoping to see some savings with all-digital materials, they may be disappointed. According to OnCampus Research’s 2013 Student Watch report, Retail Insight: Student Shopping Trends, the average student already pays approximately $662 per school year for course materials, mostly print—about the same as the annual estimate for digital. That figure doesn’t factor in any monies students might get for reselling their paper books later.