This blog is dedicated to the topics of Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education. it is intended as an information source for the college store industry, or anyone interested in how course materials are changing. Suggestions for discussion topics or news stories are welcome.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Google Book Search settlement delayed

On Tuesday, the Google Book Search settlement was postponed for four months to give authors more time to decide whether to participate in the settlement or opt out. The deadline to opt out is now September 4, 2009 and the final hearing will be on October 7, 2009. According to an article on CNET, the four month extension appears to have been in direct response to a request from a group of authors and not in response to Google’s request for a 60-day extension to ensure that rightholders are given enough time to respond. Gabriel Stricker, a spokesperson for Google commented, “We're excited about the proposed settlement agreement regarding Google Book Search. As we've said previously, the settlement is highly detailed, and we want to make sure rightsholders everywhere have enough time to think about it and make sure it's right for them.” Although Google was in favor of a delay, the postponement may actually benefit the parties opposed to the settlement. John Simpson, a consumer advocate with Consumer Watchdog, commented, “The four-month extension is a big victory for those who oppose the Google Books settlement. It's a clear recognition by the judge that there are problems with the proposed deal. The extension also gives the Justice Department more time to consider the antitrust issues that we and others have raised and discussed with them." As mentioned previously, if the settlement is approved, Google could gain exclusive rights to the orphan books held in university libraries which would easily affect every community and stakeholder in our industry.

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has also posted a video and a summary of the Copyright, Content and Class Action Lawsuits: A Debate on the Google Book Search Settlement event held last week at the Library of Congress. Participants in the panel included: Dr. Alan Inouye, Director of the American Library Association’s Office for Information Poicy; Dr. Daniel Clancy, Engineering Director for Google Book Search; Allan Adler, VP of Government Affairs for the Association of American Publishers; and Peter Brantley, Director of Access for the Internet Archive.

E-textbook study in the UK finds that bundling print and digital increases textbook sales

Recently, John Smith & Son, an academic and professional bookseller in the UK, conducted an e-textbook study with multiple sales models for e-textbooks including: bundling print and digital, discounted e-textbooks, point of sale add-on, and full-price e-textbooks. According to an article from Book Business, the results showed that bundling e-textbooks with the print version was the most successful model and sales increased by 25 percent. Additionally, when digital textbooks were available, used textbook sales decreased considerably with some sales decreasing as much as 68 percent. John Smith & Son anticipates that their e-textbook program will continue to grow as publishers recognize the opportunity to drive revenue growth with digital content. Already, the company has increased their e-textbook sales over 20 times last year’s units.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Apple hits its one billionth app download in just nine months

Apple's countdown to the one billionth app download ended last week when a lucky winner downloaded the “Bump” app. If you have not heard of “Bump” yet, it is a pretty cool free app that lets users swap contact information by bumping two phones together. Appropriately, the winner was a thirteen year-old and just this week there is a new research report out that indicates that teens have been cutting back spending in many areas due to the economy but one area that has been less affected – digital products. An article from Advertising Age notes, “Teens are not willing to live without things such as music, DVDs, video games, and video-game systems.” As teens become more and more immersed in digital in and out of the classroom and Apple begins the count to its two billionth download, we must consider how these factors will affect our industry in the future.

Amazon: top source for e-books and e-commerce

On Monday afternoon, Lexcycle, creator of the popular Stanza book reading application for the iPhone, announced that they have been acquired by Amazon. A posting on their website says that they are not planning to make any changes to the Stanza application and customers will still be able to browse, buy, and read ebooks from their content partners. It goes on to say, We are excited to join forces with a company that has innovated on behalf of readers for over a decade and is a pioneer in ebooks. Like Amazon, we believe there is a lot of innovation ahead for ebooks and we could not think of a better company to join during this exciting time.” This acquisition is definitely a bit surprising and has the industry talking. An article from Business Week questions the move given that the Kindle app currently ranks higher than the Stanza app in the Apple iTunes store. The article explains that it could be that Amazon did not want Stanza to be purchased by a competitor or Amazon may be interested in adding some of Stanza’s features to the Kindle app. Another posting from PCWorld notes that Amazon was likely interested in Stanza’s ability to export PDFs, Word documents, and other eBooks which can then be placed on the Kindle. While a posting on the Bits blog indicates that the move will help Amazon strengthen its position on mobile devices, particularly Apple devices but potentially Google Android phones, the Palm Pre, and Windows Mobile devices. Many of the sources are also wondering if Amazon will eventually support more e-reading formats and in particular ePub. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out but one thing is for sure, Amazon now owns two of the top reading apps for the iPhone.

In addition to acquiring Lexcycle, it was recently reported by Barron’s that Amazon could be responsible for about one third of all U.S. e-commerce. RBC Capital analyst Stephen Ju performed the analysis and his data suggests that U.S. e-commerce through Amazon was about 34% in Q4, up from 27% a year earlier. Ju’s analysis concluded that Amazon is continuing to gain share in the U.S. and there is opportunity for further gains in international online retailing. A posting, from the Amazon blog on Seattle P-I notes that the lack of online sales tax in most states could be a large factor for Amazon’s growth in sales during a recession.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CACS E-Book Performance Survey

The following posting is courtesy of Kathleen Kaser, Director North for the California Association of College Stores (CACS). We were very happy to learn that Kathleen recently led an informal performance survey for CACS regarding the availability and demand for e-books by higher education students in California. More about the survey and the results can be found below.


CACS conducted an informal survey regarding the availability of E-books offered by higher education institutions and the demand for E-books by higher education students in California for the spring semester or winter quarter of 2009. It was compiled for Don Newton, who as CACS legislative liaison was asked for the information by Senator Elaine Alquist who sponsors SB 48 which “will be mandating that publishers provide both a print & full electronic version of a textbook along the following timeline; 50% of textbooks must have a full electronic version by 2015 and 100% by 2020."

The general comments are based on responses from seven California Universities and twenty Community Colleges. Universities responding were: SDSU, CSU Fresno, CSU Fullerton, UC Riverside, UC Davis, UCLA, and Cal Poly. Community Colleges responding were: Los Medanos, Ohlone, Santa Barbara, Fresno CC, Citrus, LATT, San Diego (3), Solano, San Mateo (3), Cabrillo, Foothill, Fullerton, Chaffey, Modesto, Coastline, and Chabot.

Respondents were asked three questions:
- How many E-books do you have available to sell (generally) this semester?
- How many are you selling?
- What is the student response to E-books?

Three of the seven Universities surveyed offer approximately two hundred titles, and two offer a hundred titles this term. One University offers nine titles this term, but usually has thirty. One University offers none citing no student requests. Sales results are mixed with SDSU reporting sales of a thousand E-books this term, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly sold about two hundred, Fresno State sold thirty five, and UC Davis and UCLA sold less than ten.

Eight of the twenty Community Colleges surveyed offer more than twenty titles with no one offering more than sixty five titles. Two colleges offer ten titles this term, two colleges offer one title, and the remaining eight colleges offer none. Top sellers for E-books this term were SDCC and Coastline who each sold one hundred and fifty, Foothill sold seventy five, Chabot sold forty three, Chaffey sold twenty, Santa Barbara sold nine, with the remaining ten colleges reporting no sales.

Positive bookstore comments about E-books:
- 70% of students surveyed at a University would buy another E-book.
- 33% of students surveyed at different University would buy an E-book again, and 25% thought the E-book was better quality than the textbook.
- Demand is increasing as the supply increases.
- Students are satisfied and demand is growing.
- It is important to offer students many choices of course content.

Negative bookstore comments about E-books:
- Half of all the bookstores surveyed experience indifference to Ebooks or no demand yet from students or faculty, even if they offer E-books for sale.
- Cannot sell E-books due to district firewall connectivity problems.
- E-book prices may be too high. Students know that buying a used book and selling it back to the store at the end of the semester is less expensive than buying an E-book.
- There are some problems with downloads and refunds, but the technology is improving.
- Publisher representatives do not push E-books.
- Logistically carrying around a laptop instead of a book is cumbersome, and it is expensive to print out the book.
- Students and faculty are more interested in free, Open Educational Resources than E-books. (Comment from only one of the respondents.)

The sources of the E-books offered were Jumpbooks, MBS Universal Digital Titles, CourseSmart, and Follett. It does appear that the E-book market is a fledgling industry and that demand is increasing as the supply increases for students comfortable with technology. Fewer titles are available for Community Colleges at this time.

Don Newton added the following comments to the E-book survey results sent to Senator Alquist: “I think your goal of 50% availability by 2015 is certainly doable. However publishers are mostly moved by marketplace acceptance. Much work needs to be done to make electronic titles popular enough to warrant the investment required for publishers to make more electronic titles available.”

“The investment needed to make electronic books available is not in getting content in an electronic file. The problem is with securing the intellectual property from piracy and maintaining that security. In addition, as some of our comments show, publishers will need to make it more convenient and more reliable.”

“If publishers need to oppose your bill it will probably be for customer lack of demand, not for their inability or unwillingness to have the product in e-formats. In a few years we will see what direction customer demand leads e-book publishing availability. I am sure publishers will be speaking with you about this. Thanks for your time and please remember CACS members are ready to help with any information we have.”

Many thanks to all who responded so quickly to my request for information.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Initial results from the JISC national e-books observatory project

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) national e-books observatory project in the UK began in 2007 and since then the committee has been working to explore the impacts, observe the behaviors, and develop new models to stimulate the e-book market. Earlier this month, the JISC released the results of their first user survey which was circulated to 127 higher education libraries and included more than 20,000 responses. The portions of the survey of particular significance to college stores include: the interest level for e-books and e-book purchasing intentions. The results of the survey show that there is a high level of interest in e-books with more than 60% of the academic population already using e-books. When reviewing the results by gender, age group, and level of study, men and postgraduates were more likely to use e-books and there was no significant difference among age groups. However, when it comes to purchasing e-books, students purchasing intentions are low. Only 4.6% of students actually paid for the book, while 45.3% got it from the university library, and 43.5% accessed it free off the internet.

Last week at the London Book Fair, the JISC discussed the initial results from their observatory project which provided UK university students with free access to 36 science, technology, and medical e-textbooks for two years. The results of the study show that giving students access to the e-texts did not have an effect on print sales and e-textbook usage was strong across all age groups. The study also revealed the current challenges with e-books including: students and administrators dislike for DRM restrictions and their dissatisfaction with the current purchasing model for e-books. The full report will be released in June and the results will be shared with participating publishers and academic institutions in an effort to help the market develop, and to help target the current pricing and licensing issues for e-books.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

E Ink technology update

An interesting posting on Joe Wikert’s Kindleville blog discusses his recent visit to the E Ink office. Wikert reports that the company is making progress on color displays and that he actually saw a prototype with slightly washed out color but excellent clarity. He also saw displays that support animation and several displays with sharper renderings of text and graphics. While these displays will not be available for some time, the technology is progressing.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

KnowledgeWorks 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning

The KnowledgeWorks Foundation’s second future forecast entitled 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning is now available. The forecast explores the key forces of change that will influence the next decade and the actions that we can take today to shape the future of learning. The forecast is designed to help users make connections among things that may seem unrelated and to help them understand how challenges occurring today fit within the larger context of patterns of change. KnowledgeWorks first forecast entitled 2006-2016 Map of Future Forces Affecting Education is still relevant but includes trends that have evolved in recent years. The new forecast is organized into six future forces and within each force there are signals, trends, and ways to take action. Some of the relevant trends for college stores include: transliteracy, eco-schools, open leadership and sociability, visual literacy, and open-source assessment. Additionally, the website features scenario planning information that you may find useful. The information is intended to help users: make use of the forecast in their own educational organization, spark conversation about future challenges, and to build support for change.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

E-book and E-reader predictions

Recently there have been several noteworthy predictions and comments about e-books and e-readers that all indicate the tipping point from print to digital is approaching.

In an article from this month’s Fast Company, Steve Haber, developer of the Sony Reader said, “E-book readers will largely dominate the industry, and it could happen in less than 10 years. Every time I give a Reader to someone to test, I never get it back. It's just like when TiVo or digital cameras came out. At first, people didn't know they needed it. But once they have it, they can't live without it.”

Richard Doherty, an analyst from the Envisioneering Group expressed a similar thought in a New York Times article a few months ago when he said, “I have not interviewed any owner of an ebook device who says that I should not have bought the thing.”

Steve Pendergrast, co-founder of Fictionwise, recently predicted that by 2010 there will be a “huge surge in e-book sales” and the “tipping point” of e-book popularity will occur as consumers see more users reading e-books on planes and subways. He added that Fictionwise’s typical customer has transitioned from men to women providing “evidence that e-book sales have shifted away from the early-adopter stage” and that e-books will become more widely accepted on the mass consumer level as technology improves.

Pendergrast’s prediction is in line with the comments by Russ Wilcox, president and CEO of E Ink, at the Tools of Change Conference in February. Wilcox said, “In 12-18 months, 2-3% of American households will own e-readers.” This prediction is significant because it is at that point that everyone will know someone who owns an e-reader which will lead to the tipping point. As we begin to see more sources with corroborative data, it provides better evidence that we are in fact nearing the tipping point for e-books and e-readers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Book Industry Environmental Council announces goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions

For the first time, the book industry has set goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This week the Book Industry Environmental Council announced that they are aiming for a 20% reduction by 2020 and an 80% reduction by 2050. A posting from Publishers Weekly reports that paper accounts for 65% of the U.S. book industry’s carbon footprint and returns are another significant factor. If the industry can reduce emissions by 20%, it would save up to 2.5 million metric tons a year which is the equivalent of the annual emissions of roughly 450,000 cars. Pete Datos, chair of the Council’s climate subcommittee commented, “I have confidence we can reduce returns dramatically. We have to work together to do that in a way that is equitable for the whole industry. We have better methods to forecast, we can get books printed and shipped faster than ever before.” The announcement did not discuss e-books but we can expect that digital options will also play an important role in the industry’s effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wall Street Journal e-book article

Today’s Wall Street Journal features a great article entitled, How the E-Book Will Change the Way we Read and Write. In the article, author Steven Johnson discusses the “aha” moment when he realized that the book's transition to digital will change the way we read, write, and sell books in profound ways, and what the future of books and reading will look like as a result of these changes. Johnson also provides a prediction for the future, noting that as a result of developments such as the Kindle and Google Book Search, “2009 may well prove to be the most significant year in the evolution of the book since Gutenberg hammered out his original bible.” The article is very well written and worth a read.

Espresso Book Machine pilot in the U.S. and first installation in the U.K.

A recent article announced that the U.K.’s leading academic bookseller, Blackwell, will be the first bookstore in the U.K. to install an Espresso Book Machine (EBM) 2.0. The EBM 2.0 will allow the store to print and bind a 300-page paperback book with a four-color cover in about four minutes. Blackwell anticipates that the machine will help increase sales because they will be able to offer a larger variety of books and titles will no longer be out of stock. The machine could also attract new customers such as authors and self publishers who wish to have their works printed. Blackwell hopes to install more machines throughout its retail locations in the coming months.

In other news, there will be a significant number of EBM installations occurring in the U.S., as Lighting Source prepares to launch a pilot program that will let select publishers offer their titles on Espresso Book Machines located in bookstores across the country. Publishers participating in the pilot include: Simon& Schuster, Jon Wiley & Sons, Hachette Book Group, McGraw-Hill, Macmillan, University of California Press, and Norton. It is expected that 85,000 titles will be available for printing when the pilot begins next month.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fun writing game

If you’re in the mood for something fun, try out this Twitter inspired writing game that was recently featured on the The Digitalist blog. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Amazon Kindle 2 sales predictions

A recent posting on TechCrunch indicates that the Kindle 2 is likely selling at twice the rate of the first generation Kindle with about 300,000 units sold to date. The first generation Kindle sold about 400,000 units total and Amazon expects to sell about 800,000 Kindle 2’s in 2009. Some analysts predict that the sales could even reach over a million this year. As e-reader technology continues to improve and more books become available in digital form, we can expect that e-reader sales will continue to increase.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Collegiate Retail Alliance partners with CourseSmart

Earlier this week, the Collegiate Retail Alliance (CRA), a coalition of 52 independent college stores, announced a partnership with CourseSmart that will integrate CourseSmart’s products and services into CRA’s VisualRATEX store management system. Users of the VisualRATEX system can now offer students 6,000 e-textbooks from 12 publishers. Students will be able to purchase the e-textbooks in the college store by picking up cards with access codes that will be placed near the printed version of the book. Once the access code has been authorized, students will be able to download the e-textbook to their desktop or access the book online via CourseSmart. Later this year, an eRATEX web store will also be available. Richard McDaniel, CRA President and Chairman, explained the initiative by saying, “As course materials shift to new platforms, the ability to offer students texts in electronic as well as print formats is essential.”

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Apple approaching 1 billion iPhone app downloads

The Apple app store debuted just 9 months ago and already nearly 1 billion apps have been downloaded. The number of downloads has actually doubled since January when the count was at 500 million. A counter to track the downloads has been added to the iTunes webpage and it is moving quickly with over 34 million apps downloaded since last Friday. As mentioned in a previous posting, in recent months we have seen an increase in the number of reading, learning, campus related, and social networking apps and given these new statistics, we can expect to see many more in the coming months. Additionally, an interesting chart on the Mobclix website features a breakdown of the number of apps in each of the 20 app categories. Books and Education apps are in the top 5 with 4842 applications (13.6%) and 2313 applications (6.5%) respectively. Apple has also released a listing of the top 20 of all time PAID apps and the top 20 FREE apps. Although Books and Education apps are not featured in the top 20, two of the top free apps include social networking sites Facebook and Myspace. With the popularity of the app store increasing everyday and rumors of a large screen Apple device due out later this year, we anticipate that Apple could make a considerable impact in the higher education market in the coming months.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is Amazon working on a large screen Kindle?

An article from The Wall Street Journal indicates that a new large screen Kindle could be released just in time for the holidays this year. Amazon has not confirmed the rumor but some insiders say they have seen a version of the device. Whether or not the rumor is true, there are likely several large screen e-readers in development. Jennifer Colegrove, the director of display technology research at DisplaySearch confirmed that suppliers for several e-readers have been working on screens that measure 10 inches diagonally and she estimates that the world-wide market for e-readers will triple in 2009 to three million, up from one million in 2008. (Note: that is better than exponential growth).

As mentioned previously, there is also speculation that Apple is working on a large screen device that could be released this fall. If these rumors are true, then both companies and perhaps others could become viable competitors in the textbook market later this year. This is just another sign that the e-book space is starting to heat up and that we may be passing the “knee of the curve” when it comes to e-books.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Scholarly presses benefit from digital publishing

An interesting article by Scott McLemee on Inside Higher Ed discusses the recent move towards digital publishing and some of the advantages that it has provided for scholarly presses. The article begins with a telling quote from an observer of trends in the industry that reads, “We’re going to see a 15 year leap in the publishing industry in the next two years.” Interestingly enough, that comment was made last summer when the economy was in better shape and “before trillions of dollars starting vanishing into the ether.” The piece goes on to discuss an article written by Sandy Thatcher, director of Penn State University Press and past president of the Association of American University Presses entitled “The Hidden Digital Revolution in Scholarly Publishing: POD, SRDP, the ‘Long Tail,’ and Open Access.” In the article, Thatcher discusses how the small market for scholarly titles has actually given university presses an advantage because they have been able to experiment with and benefit from short-run digital publishing and print-on-demand while others in the industry are continually trying to reduce their costs through economies of scale. Additionally, university presses have been able to publish more scholarly works and distribute them to a broader audience through digital publishing. In the coming months, we can expect to see more acceptance of and experimentation with digital options as the industry struggles to find a more profitable business model during these tough economic times.

Monday, April 13, 2009

New color e-reader to hit the market early next year

A recent posting on the iReader blog features a new color e-reader that is expected to hit the market in Q1 2010. The e-reader is being developed by the companies Netronix and Astak and known as the Netronix EB900 or Astak Mentor Pro. The E Ink screens will be provided by Prime View International (PVI), the maker of the E Ink Kindle screens. The e-reader comes with some impressive features including, a large 9.7” touch screen with either 26k color or 16 shades of gray-scale, the choice of Linux or Windows CE, WiFi Bluetooth/3G wireless connection, 4GB memory, SD Card slot, two USB 2.0 ports, and it supports a variety of languages such as English, Spanish, German, French, Japanese, Korean and Portuguese. According to Netronix’s website the company plans to release five other e-readers this year that are all 5 or 6 inch devices with different capabilities/options on each.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Even children’s books are becoming iPhone apps

Last week, Houghton Mifflin and ScrollMotion released Curious George’s Dictionary as an iPhone/iPod Touch application. An article from the Earth Times explains that the application is designed for children in preschool through first grade. David Langevin, vice president and director of Electronic Markets for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Trade & Reference Division explained, “ScrollMotion has done brilliant product development, combining elegant design and child-friendly functionality. We feel the world’s most curious monkey’s dictionary adventure will be the most popular educational app in the iTunes App Store.” This has us wondering; how many young children have their own iPhone/iPod Touch or are their parents handing over their pricey devices to keep the kids entertained? Either way, more and more children are participating in digital learning with technologies designed specifically for them. How will these factors affect the way children learn in the classroom?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

January 2009 e-book sales statistics

E-book sales statistics for January 2009 have been released by the Association of American Publishers (AAP) via IDPF. Trade e-book sales were $8.8 million for January 2009, a very significant 173.6% increase over January 2008. Note that these figures represent the 13 trade book publishers who have been willing to supply their data to IDPF.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Is Barnes & Noble working on an e-reader too?

Rumor has it that Barnes & Noble is the latest company preparing to release an e-reader to compete with the Amazon Kindle. According to the jkOnTheRun blog, Barnes & Noble is one of the five companies that recently approached Verizon about providing wireless services to the e-reader. However, those talks may have ended and the company could be in discussions with Sprint and AT&T. This rumor could prove to be true because as mentioned in a previous posting, Barnes & Noble recently acquired e-book retailer Fictionwise with plans to incorporate the company into its digital strategy. Although Fictionwise’s e-book inventory is not as large as Amazon’s, they still have tens of thousands of e-books and they do offer non-DRM books when publishers allow, unlike Amazon.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Popular myths about e-books

An interesting posting on the Epublishers Weekly blog features 10 popular myths about e-books. The posting is worth a read and includes some interesting points to take note of:

Myth: E-books and electronic publishing are killing the print publishing industry
Truth: Print publishing is struggling for many reasons. The print publishers that survive will need to embrace electronic publishing, transform their business models, and renew the original vision of publishing, where books are published not for profit only, but to enrich and renew our culture.

Myth: Buying e-books instead of paper books does not really help the environment
Truth: E-books save trees, energy, transportation costs, and reduce pollution. To produce one weekly issue of the Sunday New York Times 75,000 trees are consumed. To produce one year’s worth of Sunday papers, more than 3.9 million trees are consumed.

Myth: E-books are not ready for prime time: the digital reading revolution is years away
Truth: E-books and electronic publishing are young but e-book sales will surpass 100 million dollars this year. (And this does not account for rapidly-increasing influx of "free culture" works: more than two million e-books and electronic publications that are available at no cost.) That 100 million dollars is still a small part of total print publishing sales. Yet e-books are by far the fastest growing segment of this otherwise-troubled industry.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Peter Osnos – The Future of Books

The Century Foundation recently featured interesting commentary by Peter Osnos. In the piece, Osnos discusses how print and digital books can easily co-exist in the future because print books will not necessarily disappear as digital progresses. While there are often comparisons drawn between the book and music industries, Osnos explains that he believes the book industry will follow a similar path to that of the movie industry. In the movie industry, consumers are provided with a variety of movie viewing options including: DVD’s, downloads, rentals, movie theaters, etc. As the industry evolved, new delivery options were added while still allowing previous options to exist and remain viable revenue streams. The book industry could evolve in a similar way by allowing a variety of print and digital options with their own pricing structures to co-exist. Customers will appreciate the ability to consume books in multiple ways and to choose among the options just as they can when they want to watch a movie. The digital options will likely become more popular in the coming years but there will always be times when consumers just prefer a printed book.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More news on Google Book Search

An article from The New York Times discusses the objections to the recent settlement proposal for Google Book Search. As you may recall, the Google Book Search initiative includes the scanning of millions of orphan books or those which are under copyright but out of print and the rights holders are unknown or can not be located. Many major libraries including university libraries contain large numbers of orphan books and Google could gain exclusive rights to publish the books online and profit from them if the settlement is approved in June. Some academic and public interest groups plan to file legal briefs for fear that Google could become a monopoly if the settlement is approved. Without orphan books, competitors will not be able to create a library as comprehensive as Google and therefore Google could potentially charge universities, libraries, and others high prices to access the database. Alexander Macgillivray, a lawyer for Google defends the company by saying that the goal is to make orphan works more widely accessible and the prices charged would be reasonable. He adds, This agreement expands access to many of these hard-to-find books in a way that is great for Google, great for authors, great for publishers and great for readers.” But is it great for college stores and university libraries? Several of our members forwarded this article on to us noting that if the settlement is approved it could be a real game changer and easily affect every community and stakeholder in the industry. One member summed it by saying that Google has the potential to wipe out recommended title sales overnight which could further erode the market share college stores have in the book business.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More e-readers soon to be on the market

An article from Yahoo! Tech explains that Verizon Wireless has been approached by five companies to provide wireless connections to e-readers. The article does not confirm who the companies are but explains that Verizon is looking to enter parts of the e-book market that the Kindle is not currently in, more specifically, the college textbook market. This news provides further verification that the higher education textbook market is under a great deal of pressure to change. We can expect current players in the space and companies looking to enter our market to introduce e-readers designed specifically for textbooks within the year. What is not clear yet is what the business models will look like and if the companies will choose to work with us or against us.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

What is all the twitter about?

With all the recent twitter about twittering we thought you might enjoy this comic from Being Five. Have a good weekend!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

What we can learn from the decline of the newspaper industry

This week’s issue of The Chronicle features interesting commentary by Kevin Carey that discusses how technology could impose a similar threat on the higher education industry as it has on the newspaper industry. He explains that the industries are threatened by technology because they are both in the business of creating and communicating information and technology is making this easier than ever before. He goes on to say that what is happening now to the newspaper industry was actually predicted in the 1990’s when the internet was introduced so newspapers had time to prepare for the digital future but the temptation to cling to the old ways was too great. However, it is not too late for higher education, the industry still has more time to embrace technology, prepare for change, and move to a more sustainable cost structure. It would be a mistake to believe that accreditation will be enough to protect universities because with the economy in decline and tuition on the rise, the number of students taking online courses is growing by hundreds of thousands each year. If higher education decides to hold on to the past like the newspaper industry did, “then someday, sooner than we think, we're going to be reading about the demise of once-great universities — not in the newspaper, but in whatever comes next.”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Innovative Kiosks

There was an interesting article in the New York Times this week about new kiosks being developed by Intel that could eventually be placed in retail locations. The kiosks feature large touch screens with software that can identify customers, recall their purchase history, suggest specials or additional items to coordinate with their new purchases, and even let customers try out virtual clothing and cosmetics. The idea behind the kiosks is that it will provide customers with more product information as well as customer reviews, in other words, the information that they would see if they were purchasing online. Joe Jensen, general manager of the embedded-computing division at Intel explained the kiosks by saying, The prototypes are a vehicle for showing the direction we see retailers needing to move.” As retail locations begin to change their models to provide an online shopping experience in store, how will consumer’s expectations change? Or perhaps more importantly, what will students come to expect when they shop in the college store?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

iPhone applications - a growing trend

Blackboard, maker of campus learning management system software, is the latest company to announce that they have released an iPhone application. According to the press release, the new application provides a mobile version of the same tools used on their website in an effort to support learners on the go. Blackboard is just one of many companies to release an iPhone application this month. In fact, according to a recent article from San Jose Mercury News, there are currently about 200 new apps added each day to the Apple App Store and the store is growing at a rate of 38% a month. Additionally, the store already offers over 31,000 applications since its debut less than 9 months ago. At this rate, we can expect to see many more reading, campus related, learning, and social networking applications introduced in the coming months. These applications can be developed quickly and offer powerful new ways to connect users in ways that we have not seen before. What effect could these applications have on the way students learn and communicate, and in turn the college store? This is definitely a trend to watch, particularly with rumors of a new Apple device due out perhaps this summer or fall.