The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More on CafeScribe acquisition

A couple weeks ago I commented on the acquisition of CafeScribe/Fourteen40 by Follett. In this week's Campus Technology there is an interesting interview with Bryce Johnson, CEO for the company. The piece has some interesting comments. I know one person wrote me recently to ask if CafeScribe is working on a hardware based e-reader (like the Kindle). Bryce somewhat answers that question:

CT: Are we at the tipping point with e-books because of hardware like the Amazon

Johnson: [In my study] ... I looked at hardware as well. In fact, [we]
had a piece of hardware that was identical to the Kindle. For the first eight
months [of launching Fourteen40], that's what I was pursuing. We rolled it out
at Stanford as a pilot and students said, "How much is this? $400? No way. I
just want [content] on my laptop."

Bryce also points out a common problem for many in the e-textbook space currently -- the lack of content (aka digital assets, aka inventory). Bryce predicts that once the content inventory is improved (which he estimates will occur over the next 12-18 months) that student adoption of digital will improve. I have made some of the same predictions -- that a big current barrier is the lack of complete or sufficient inventory. There are other barriers though, as well, so it remains to be seen how quickly adoption will unfold. I expect we will see improved adoption over the next academic year (2008-2009), but it is likely the following year where a bigger effect will be felt.

Finally, my favorite set of quotes from the interview:

CT: At one point last fall, you offered scratch-and-sniff stickers with a
musty smell to them. Where did that idea come from?

Johnson: We're brainstorming one day. In a survey, we asked students ... what they [would] miss in a normal textbook or book. I think 60 percent of them responded that they missed the smell. We thought, "They like the smell. We'll ship you a scratch and sniff you can stick in your laptops." That's where that came from.

CT: And does it really smell like an old book?

Johnson: It really does.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been taking classes at DeVry for nearly two years. Every classes text is a PDF document. Great, I bought a Sony reader. With no announcement whatsoever we are now using this junk CafeScribe. I see that Mr. Johnson intends to DENY students the use of Kindle and Sony readers. So we are letting one man dictate the desires and learning tools of the masses when his alternative is proving to be EXTREMELY inadequate. Inadequate, just ask any DeVry student in the week of CafeScribe's not so grand debut.