There is the typical view of a student – one who does not have a big attention span and prefers to surf the net and scan things in. Students are given reading lists, or ask for them, but some are not prepared to read whole books… just the ‘specific chapters’ they need. If they only need one part/chapter of a certain book then purchasing it is not a desirable option for anyone. This is, of course, not an image of all students.
“e-Book publishers have seen this gap in the market for some time and are experimenting with licensing e-books to libraries with payment structures in line with the number of expected downloads, which can be calculated, for example, on the number of students signed up to a course where the book is recommended reading.
But university libraries in many countries baulk at the cost of such licences. Many are seeing their budgets cut and those in less affluent countries simply cannot afford a licence that has to be renewed every year for each incoming cohort. The cost of a licence can exceed the traditional cost of, say, a reference copy from which students would normally photocopy a chapter or two (and pay the cost of copies themselves)”
Bit of a let down eh? Courseload.com, a digital textbook provider, is currently testing a system which delivers textbooks, to do with whichever module the student wants, from major publishers direct to the student’s computer… for a fee of course. These delivered texts are said to be fully interactive and can be digitally annotated.
“Flatworld Knowledge, the largest commercial publisher of open-source higher education textbooks, offers free online access to a range of textbooks for students, and if students want to download, charges around 20% below the print edition price.”
Still does not sound very appealing does it? A better option is lurking around…
“Launched last month in Britain, Reference Tree focuses specifically on the higher education market. Its uniqueness lies in the ability for students to purchase e-textbooks by the chapter and for a limited time, thus reducing the cost.
“We enable higher education institutions to license a chapter for six to 12 months so that students can obtain a chapter of a book when they need it,” said Amil Tolia, founder and CEO of Reference Tree.
“It represents a high saving over a complete textbook because they get it for a time-bound period,” he said. The saving for a student can range from around 20%, when compared to full e-books, and 40% when compared to buying a paper book. A typical textbook may cost £40 (US$63) while downloading a chapter for a term or more would be around £2.10 (US$3.30) – a significant saving.”
This idea is still early stage and I would imagine that universities and publishers alike are working out how to break up texts into chapters and modules without destroying the market for the entire book.
And here you have it – http://www.reference-tree.com