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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Future of textbooks....interesting quote

Here are some excerpts from a recent interview with CJ Rayhill from Safari Online. I think her comments relative to textbooks are interesting and worth discussion. Particularly in light of some new big news that came our way this week (and which I will be posting here shortly -- so stay tuned!) You can find the whole interview with CJ Rayhill on the "Confessions of a Science Librarian" blog.


Q4. What's the future of the text book? Do you think this model would
apply to other disciplines as well? Physics, marketing, philosophy?

The future of the textbook market is clearly shifting. You have products like
SafariU, iChapters, and CourseSmart beginning to emerge to solve a difficult
issue -- the high cost of textbooks. In addition, most higher-education courses
involve exposure to content from multiple sources which makes the cost of
purchasing all of the required and recommended reading for students out of
reach. So what happens is that students end up not even purchasing required content which must diminish the value of their educational experience. I'm not sure which model will emerge as the clear leader in this space...

Q5. What do you see as Safari's biggest competition, other ebook publishers or free stuff on the net?

Both! Our biggest partners (Google, Amazon, etc.) can potentially be our biggest competitors. And the balancing act is not getting any easier. Especially for technical reference-type books, how much do you give away for free on Google Book Search before it eats into your revenue stream possibilities? Does the exposure help or hurt sales? I think free content is great -- but I also think that there is a place for being able to search across and access good, vetted content from trusted sources. The next 3-5 years is going to be one of the most revolutionary periods for publishers in my opinion, especially in our space.

The next 3-5 years will likely be a very revolutionary period for stores as well. This theme was repeated over and over at the TOC conference last week and in other publisher venues I have tapped into lately. Our timeline to prepare is diminishing. Where is all the discussion of this topic within our portion of the industry???


Anonymous said...

CJ Rayhill is a talented woman. "His" comments are actually "her" comments. :)

M said...

My apologies. I will correct the text. Thanks for pointing out my error.

Melissa said...

The future of textbooks is buying online on sites like www.cheapesttextbooks.com

Anonymous said...

Or on CourseSmart, as CJ mentions ;-)

Check this blog too...

M said...

The two examples pointed out are interesting.

Let's look at www.cheapesttextbooks.com first. I am not sure this is the best example of what the future of textbooks will be, particularly as they go more digital. I do think the site does a good job comparing among sites though for traditional copies. This is a function stores should be offering -- and in fact, there are some examples of these comparison sites run by college stores. What we have found in the stores, however, is that many of the sites which cheapesttextbooks searches do have some problems when it comes to supplying the correct textbook. College stores authenticate which books faculty require for a course. Stores handle many complaints from students who buy online that they received the wrong edition. From our most recent industry study student satisfaction rates are higher when they buy from the campus store compared to online -- due to several convenience factors, immediacy, and the ability to return materials. Of course, if you are shopping purely on price then such online stores do perform better. There are many online comparison shopping sites. I do not think these are the future of textbooks, but they do signal an important factor that will drive future change -- finding less expensive ways to deliver textbooks online. That probably means digital.

CourseSmart is a different animal than www.cheapesttextbooks.com. As a publisher aggregator, it has more direct access to the digital assets and may be able to provide the print edition as well. A number of stores are already working with CourseSmart, and we are also looking for models where more stores can work with publisher-related organizations (including and like CourseSmart) in order to provide students with the correct content at lower cost. We see such models as an opportunity to provide new product/service opportunities for students that merge the best of the current aspects of both online services and college store services -- such as chapters on demand electronically or on paper at low cost, immediately, from one source, and where you know you are getting the right content.

From general e-commerce we see that pure "click" or online stores rarely are fully successful in changing a market. Normally or often it is some combination of "click and mortar" -- meaning a combination of both the electronic or online store combined with some physical store or infrastructure. No question, though, that sales are increasingly going online.

Stores are very aware of the need to find ways to reduce costs for students. Current industry pressure in this area can, will and is creating new innovations that should help do just that. We are following a couple industry prototype projects right now, and have others in the work, that will likely have a big impact on this key factor going forward.

Stores that experiment and work on developing these new models are finding improved sell-through, and new ways to better serve students. Many are seeing sustained or growing textbook sales on their campuses. Stores that resist such signals of the future are probably seeing more of the opposite.

Thanks for the two examples of online sources for textbooks. I do not know if they will be "the" future, but they or sites like them will certainly be an important part of what the future business models look like.

must said...

Have u try the
Physics Bookstore online bookstore


I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are
brand new textbooks and half price and discount textbooks and cheap textbooks.

Good luck and wish some help.

hehe ^_^