Site of the writer Andrew Wood

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?, 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 –


Comments on: "e-book Publishers and Student Reading Lists" (4)

  1. Jo Pearson said:

    Hi Andy,

    I was posting on Mark C. Newton’s blog when I noticed that you had a hyperlink in your name. The blog seems nice and informative so I think i’ll add it to my increasingly lengthy list of things to keeps tabs on.

    I was interested that you also rate ‘The Last Samurai’ highly. I thought it was a very strong, self-contained piece with fantastic music (I even bought the soundtrack).

    Out of curiosity, what genre do you tend to write in? (The obvious awnser would be ‘Fantasy’ – but within that?)

    • Hi Jo,

      Thank you for adding my site to your long list of blogs 🙂 I love The Last Samurai and I too have the soundtrack!

      When it comes to writing I have yet to find my niche I’m afraid – trying to keep myself a bit more open at the moment while I do find it. I’ve written in many different genres but I believe fantasy is where I will end up to be honest. I have only fairly recently begun to be properly serious about my novel writing. My genre at the moment for my novel is not fantasy… it is more of a conspiracy action thing. I have plenty of fantasy ideas brimming however. My current novel is an experiment and I am concentrating on it so I can get it finished before delving into my fantasies.

      I do write fantasy when I have the urges 🙂 The sub-genre of the fantasy I am currently involved in is mainly medieval fantasy at first glance but it incorporates plenty of modern elements. It mixes steam-punk, medieval elements, magical realism, high and low fantasy, and the sword and sorcery sub-genre. A bit much I know! My main set of fantasy ideas have stemmed from a written role-play forum I admin with my fiancée so it is a bit of everything for the moment.

      Anyway, hope that this isn’t too confusing with all the sub-genres and whatnot.

  2. Jo Pearson said:

    On the contray, it was precisely the type of response I was hoping for 🙂

    I’d similarily inform you that i’m interested in writing Science Fiction of the Cyberpunk subgenre, influenced by extopian tranhumanism and japanese anime, with a smattering of space opera and military sci-fi for good measure.

    PS – Thinking back to your blog’s conent, have you come across any of Charlie Stross’s postings on ‘Common Misconceptions About Publishing? If not, they’re definately worth a look:

    I’m not really a fan of his stuff, but his Antipope blog is almost always a good read.



    • I have not read them before so I will make it a must do as soon as I can 🙂

      Your interest in Sci-fi sounds quite broad in influence. I’ve never really gotten into it personally but I have a couple of ideas for sci-fi novels! I come up with really radical and out of character stuff 😀

      I also have a really hopeful idea for historical fiction based in Japan in the late 1500s – an area of history I have researched out of pure interest 🙂

      Hope to hear from you some more,


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