People who don’t actually work in education, bookselling, or print publishing spout plenty of dour speculation about the survival of these industries. When people who do work in these industries come together, such as at Digital Book World’s recent conference, they explore worrisome trends but also see a definite future.
NACS’ own Tony Ellis, vice president of industry advancement, was among the participants at the Making Information Pay in Higher Education event, produced by the Book Industry Study Group in conjunction with the DBW conference. A few of his key takeaways from conference presentations are:
- More college students say their classes have no assigned textbooks. In many cases, faculty are opting to use content within integrated learning systems, such as Pearson’s MyLab online products.
- Textbook prices continue to be a deal-breaker for many students, with more engaging in “illicit acquisition behaviors” to obtain their course materials. Once a book price crosses the $30-$40 line, students are more likely to be tempted by pirated content.
- Even though students prefer to study from print and e-book sales are slowing across all reading genres, publishers are gung-ho about digital books, despite difficulties with technology, standards, and data analytics. Still, they acknowledge print will stick around for quite a while.
- Bookstores and libraries are expanding into new roles. Libraries are helping patrons learn how to use digital materials. Stores are providing more services to help authors, especially self-published ones. Both aim to be the place where readers can discover titles and connect with authors.
- Word of mouth matters more than ever. The opinions of others, as expressed on social media and other online sites, have more influence on consumers (especially those of college age) than marketing, branding, and customer service.