An article from Montana Kaimin reports that the Montana Board of Regents created a committee that is working to digitize course materials across the state by next year. The committee is developing a plan that includes an “iTunes model” which they hope will be able to provide faculty with the ability to assemble book chapters, videos, and other course materials from multiple sources so that students only pay for the specific materials that will be used during the semester. Of course, publisher support and cooperation will be necessary to make such an ala cart model work, and a new approach to royalty tracking may also be required. The committee hopes that the project will help establish a new pricing structure for course materials that is fair for students and publishers.
John Aliri, committee member, commented, “If the publishers knew the book was paid for every time it was used, they would not need to raise prices.” Aliri went on to say, “If publishers can come at it with a good pricing structure which can be sustainable, students will be happy. But everything will come down to the price.”
The committee, with support from the University of Montana Bookstore, is now challenged with convincing the publishers to lower their prices in exchange for more frequent payment. The project will be officially announced later this year and at that point, a website for feedback will be launched and public forums will be held.