Posts tagged digital textbooks
The following excerpt is from the article article Online-Only Text Sales Requires Careful Prep, written by Cindy Ruckman, Director of Publications for the National Association of College Stores, and published in Campus Marketplace. Ruckman offers great detail on the process stores should take when considering an online-only textbook operation, based on MBS regional manager, Kathy Cameron’s, expertise.
In her CAMEX 2013 Flash Session entitled What Happens When the Textbook Department Goes Virtual?, Cameron explained several areas stores should consider when looking for a third-party program to support their online textbook sales. Take a look at her advice below and view the full article for further information.
Cameron said campus stores can start the search for an online textbook partner by asking prospects about their virtual bookstore practices from the student perspective. Find out how the online interface will be branded and whether it can be customized to suit your school’s needs. Can the provider furnish all the textbook formats and options your store requires—new and used print, rentals, digital? Is inventory availability shown in real time? How easily can students place their orders and can they pay with financial aid?
Stores should take a close look at providers’ order fulfillment, including how they make procurement decisions, the degree of automation in the fulfillment process, and from which locations the orders will ship. Cameron recommended asking for the back-order rate and order accuracy rate as well.
The availability of used textbooks is another important criterion. “How extensive is their used-book inventory?” Cameron asked. “What are their sources for used books?” Stores should inquire about whether buyback programs are part of the package and what type, including whether they offer guaranteed buyback.
Even if e-textbooks and other digital materials aren’t big sellers on your campus right now, you should still evaluate the capabilities of vendors to supply these formats. Cameron suggested asking which platforms and devices (including mobile) are supported, how many e-book titles are available, and whether digital content is integrated with the school’s learning management system. How do students access e-books—online or as a download—and what are their key functional features?
Customer service is another area stores should explore before signing with a provider. “What support staff is provided to manage the online store and the relationship with the school?” she asked. Providers should be able to describe their policies and practices, including how students can contact them about problems.
“Can a student at one o’clock in the morning have a live chat with somebody, because you’re not there?” Cameron said. “When you’re looking at a virtual bookstore environment, it has to be reflective of your store.”
The switch from physical textbook department to online-only may be wrenching for some store personnel, especially if the move was mandated by the administration. As a former store manager for 15 years, Cameron said she understands their anxiety.
“The first question I hear is, ‘If they take the books out, what happens to my job?’ Nothing,” said Cameron, explaining that the store still needs textbook staff to work with faculty and process adoptions.
In most cases, after textbook sales go online, the college store still remains in business, taking advantage of the extra space to expand into more general merchandise, technology, and service categories.
“The virtual bookstore only takes books out of the bookstore,” Cameron said. “That still leaves all the things that make you money. The high-margin stuff, that stays in the bookstore.”
If your store is considering an online-only textbook option, talk with your MBS Representative for more detail on how we can help.
The following excerpt, from the article ‘For Many Students, Print Is Still King,’ was written by Jennifer Howard and published on The Chronicle of Higher Education. Although the media often stresses that eBooks outnumber print books, Howard reminds us with her relevant examples that this simply is not the case in the realm of higher education. Take a look at some real testimonies from publishers and professors alike in the following excerpt then read the full article for further insight.
Despite the hype about e-books, the classic textbook hasn’t gone away. In fact, the hold-it-in-your-hands book remains the first choice for many instructors and students.
Even as publishers scramble to produce new kinds of content for a digital learning environment, print is still king for many of the biggest-selling textbooks.
Students want cheaper textbooks and have gotten more creative about acquiring them, but most aren’t calling for a digital revolution, according to some recent surveys. “The vast majority of students still prefer print,” says Michael Wright, director of college sales at Norton.
Even publishers that have invested more heavily in new digital features say they’re not doing away with books but making them part of “customizable learning experiences,” to borrow a phrase from Pearson, the biggest player in the field. “We still print everything,” says Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer for higher education. Pearson’s aim is not “to bias print or digital but to offer the experience in multiple formats.”
Think of this as the era of “print-plus,” when the most popular textbook option remains a book—often printed and bound, sometimes digital—plus whatever extras and enhancements professors and students are willing to pay for.
The ‘Comfort’ of Print
Julie K. Bartley, an associate professor of geology and chair of the geology department at Gustavus Adolphus College, hears the sentiment from her undergraduates. “Our students don’t really want to have e-books,” Ms. Bartley says. “What I hear from them a lot of times is that they feel some sort of comfort in being able to hold the thing in their hands.”
Her department’s decision to stick with a classic textbook has been driven partly by students’ preferences, partly by the college’s pedagogical philosophy. The “Principles of Geology” course that Ms. Bartley and her colleagues teach satisfies a core science requirement and serves as an introduction to the major. Any textbook it uses has to appeal both to general-ed students and rising science majors. The assigned text, Earth: Portrait of a Planet, Fourth Edition, published by Norton, “is neither excessively complicated nor excessively simplified,” Ms. Bartley says. “It’s right at the reading level of most of our students.”
The book requires some careful reading attention, which remains a priority for the college. At Gustavus Adolphus, Ms. Bartley says, “we feel that every college student should be able to read a relatively complicated, unfamiliar text.”
Students’ major concern about textbooks isn’t format but cost. “Probably the second biggest complaint in northern Minnesota after the weather is the cost of textbooks,” Ms. Bartley says. The department has used the book for several years. To accommodate the desire for used-book options, the instructors phased in the latest edition of the book so that the older edition could stay in use a little longer.
So far, supplemental online material hasn’t been a deciding factor in choosing a textbook, according to Ms. Bartley. “We don’t feel like it’s central enough to the way we teach,” she says, because the course revolves around what happens in the classroom.
‘A Fast Transition’
Pearson, too, has placed bigger bets on new kinds of digital services. Jerome Grant, the company’s chief learning officer, describes how, at Pearson, “print is simply one of the outputs” of a program that emphasizes combinations of content, applications, platforms, and services. “Today the dominant model is a sort of text-media value pack,” he says, “where people use something like MyLab for homework or remediation.” (MyLab offers interactive content designed to draw students into course material and help them test their knowledge.) Those “value packs” often include a textbook, bundled with digital materials and services.
Mr. Grant does not expect print products to vanish. “Do I envision a time when people won’t buy print? No,” he says. “Do I envision a time when the predominant distribution mechanism is digital? Absolutely.”
Over at John Wiley & Sons, Tim Stookesberry sees signs of “a fast transition from a print to a digital world.” He serves as Wiley’s vice president and editorial director for global education. Less than 50 percent of the company’s higher-education revenue still comes from “pure print products,” he says, down more than 5 percent from two years ago.
Decline does not spell doom for the old-school textbook, though. “Increasingly the issue is not either/or,” Mr. Stookesberry says of the nagging print-versus-digital question. “It’s a both-and-all conversation.”
The following excerpt is from an article written by Laura Hazard Owen, who covers book publishing, paywalls and magazines for GigaOM, and was based on the results of a new report from Scholastic. You can view more findings from this study here.
Scholastic, the world’s largest children’s publisher, released its biannual report on children and reading Monday morning. The study, conducted in partnership with the Harrison Group in fall 2012, surveyed 1,048 U.S. children ages 6 to 17 and their parents about their families’ reading habits. A few of the findings:
Most kids still haven’t read an ebook.
46 percent of kids have read an ebook, up from 25 percent in 2010. (That’s actually a higher percentage than their parents: 41 percent of parents had read an ebook, up from 14 percent in 2010.) This means, of course, that 54 percent of kids still haven’t read one.
57 percent of girls who had never read an ebook said that they wanted to, compared to 46 percent of boys. I’ve asked Scholastic if the company also broke down the percentage of children who had never read an ebook by gender — I’m curious to know if there is a gender gap in terms of access to e-reading devices.
Huge growth in reading on tablets.
The most popular device for e-reading was a laptop or netbook, which 22 percent of children surveyed had used to read an ebook. The largest growth came from tablets — not surprising since the iPad launched in 2010, the last time this survey was conducted.
Kids claim they’d read more if they had more access to ebooks.
“I really need an iPad so I can read more,” wily children tell gullible parents. Just kidding! Although possibly a factor here.
What do you think about the results? Share your thoughts in the comments section.
Data mining is creeping into every aspect of student life—classrooms, advising, socializing. Now it’s hitting textbooks, too.
CourseSmart, which sells digital versions of textbooks by big publishers, announced on Wednesday a new tool to help professors and others measure students’ engagement with electronic course materials.
When students use print textbooks, professors can’t track their reading. But as learning shifts online, everything students do in digital spaces can be monitored, including the intimate details of their reading habits.
Those details are what will make the new CourseSmart service tick. Say a student uses an introductory psychology e-textbook. The book will be integrated into the college’s course-management system. It will track students’ behavior: how much time they spend reading, how many pages they view, and how many notes and highlights they make. That data will get crunched into an engagement score for each student.
The idea is that faculty members can reach out to students showing low engagement, says Sean Devine, chief executive of CourseSmart. And colleges can evaluate the return they are getting on investments in digital materials.
Three institutions—Villanova University, Rasmussen College, and Texas A&M University at San Antonio—plan to run pilots of the product, called CourseSmart Analytics. It’s expected to be broadly available in 2013.
“There is a screaming demand in the marketplace for knowledge around what impact course materials have on learning,” Mr. Devine says in an interview at the Educause technology conference here.
But reading surveillance raises privacy issues. The American Library Association, for example, recently raised alarms about efforts by libraries to lend e-books on Kindles, which exposes their patrons’ reading behavior to monitoring by Amazon.
Isn’t it a bit creepy to have textbooks watching their users?
Mr. Devine’s answer: “Not if it helps you succeed.” But he also points out that students will be able to opt out if they don’t want their data shared.
“We do understand the Big Brother aspects of it.”
What’s your opinion on this new product? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
The following excerpt is from the article Plugged-in college students still favor old-school textbooks, written by Mercedes Cardona , NBC News contributor.
For a plugged-in generation, college kids have old-school tastes in textbooks. Even as more publishers offer the choice of buying e-books for classes, students would rather lug around printed textbooks.
“We have found that digital textbooks are still not as popular with students,” said Charles Schmidt, spokesman for the National Association of College Stores.
While the price of e-books can be 60 percent to 70 percent of the paper version, a NACS poll found that 74 percent of students still want print.
That’s because most e-books are simply PDF files of the print book, and renting the paper version is still cheaper, said Schmidt.
“People don’t want to just see a PDF on a screen. They’re asking: ‘Where’s my interactive video? Where are my widgets?’” said Vineet Madan, senior VP of new ventures at McGraw-Hill Education.
Students are used to handling content online, and a plain screen isn’t worth the money, experts said.
“If it’s more interactive they’re going to see that added value and say: ‘Yeah, we will pay more for that,’” Schmidt said.
Also professors’ likes and dislikes are a big factor and they hold a lot of sway, said Schmidt. “The average professor is not comfortable” with e-books, he said. “The kids are very sensitive to that.”
Not all professors are down on e-books. Albert Greco, professor of marketing at Fordham University in New York, said that large tech companies such as Apple and Microsoft Corp. joining the market will impact the number of e-textbooks and their price.
In January, Apple launched iBooks2, an iPad-based e-reader for K-12 school texts, and observers said it’s a matter of time before it expands to college textbooks. And Greco pointed out Microsoft’s joint venture with Barnes & Noble, built around expanding e-book sales, also includes the chain’s college bookstores.
“Publishers realized they had to do something because they knew the price of textbooks kept going up,” he said, noting that they’ve tried a number of money-saving options including limited-time e-book licenses and selling single chapters online.
The top 10 textbooks in 10 popular subjects average $175 each, and price hikes have been beating inflation for years, said Nicole Allen, affordable textbook advocate of Student PIRG (Public Interest Research Group), a consumer organization.
E-books, while helpful, are not saving students enough, she said. “They are only bringing costs down so much. They’re not solving the problem; they’re making it less bad.”
Printing a book is only a small part of the price, and e-textbooks come with their own costs, explained Madan.
“You have to spend money on engineers to build the widgets and features to build these next-generation textbooks,” he said. “Yes, the paper and binding go away, but there is a new set of costs. Paper books don’t need tech support.”
“The change is not going to happen overnight, but we are in the path towards change in the texbooks industry,” said Allen of Student PIRG.
But change won’t be as simple as trading a book for a tablet, warned Madan of McGraw-Hill : “It’s new value that’s created … and those things require investing.”
When e-textbooks were first introduced, they were supposed to be the wave of the future, and experts thought we’d see e-reader-toting students littering college campuses, and of course being adopted in droves by online university students.
But they haven’t taken off quite as expected: according to market research firm Student Monitor, only about 11% of college students have bought e-textbooks. So what happened? Here, we’ll explore several reasons why students aren’t yet warming up to the idea of e-textbooks today.
For many students, e-book use isn’t about preference or price, but instead, availability. The books that students need for school are often simply not available in a digital format. Even when certain titles are available digitally, students typically take an all-or-nothing approach to their textbook purchases each semester, buying all of their books at the same location. When so few books are available as e-textbooks, they just don’t bother trying to find them.
Cutting out the cost of physically producing and shipping a textbook is a money-saver for sure, but a recent study has found that most of the time, that savings does not get passed on to students. In fact, for most students, e-textbooks saved them a whopping $1. What gives? The high cost of e-readers like the iPad and Kindle, “publisher pricing decisions,” and the fact that if students rent e-books, they can’t sell them back later all add up to the surprisingly high cost of e-textbooks.
Unlike printed material, textbooks that are downloaded to your e-reader stay there and don’t go anywhere else. So students who might share a book with their roommate run into difficulty, and those who are accustomed to reselling books at the end of the semester hit a brick wall as well. Students find it hard to deal with these restrictions when they are used to the ease of sharing paper books.
Although most e-books come outfitted with a small army of tools that allow students to bookmark, highlight, take notes, and explore through footnotes, definitions, and more, students just aren’t impressed. They often still prefer tangible books that they can physically highlight and write notes in the margins of. Even those who might be open to digital markup are wary that they might lose their notes.
e-Textbooks were supposed to replace the pounds upon pounds of paper books that college students stuff their backpacks with. But digital books are heavy in a different way: their storage size. Even on a 16GB iPad, there’s simply not enough room to store every single book a student might need. Assuming students are using their iPads solely for books (they aren’t), books that can be up to 2GB each leaves room for just about eight books on one device.
When you consider the wealth of media-rich alternatives available to students online, some e-textbooks with just plain print and images seem downright primitive. Video, audio, interactive websites, and activities can often be accessed using iPads and other e-readers with web browsing. Students may find this material to be more helpful than what e-textbooks have to offer.
Part of the reason for the slow adoption of e-textbooks is the simple fact that today’s students just aren’t used to them. They grew up with textbooks in grade school, and they’re simply not interested in making a change. Experts believe that students who grow up using e-book devices will be much more open to continuing the trend when they reach college.
One might think that reading a textbook is basically the same in any format. But some researchers believe that the brain absorbs digital and printed text differently. In one study, students who read printed books seemed to more fully understand material, and did so much faster than another group of students who read the same material in a digital format. They explain that digital vs. print reading is much like the difference between “knowing” and “remembering.”
Some textbooks are available in one format, and not the other, or available to download through several different stores. That means students not only have to hunt down their textbooks across several different platforms and websites, they also have to remember where they are, learn how to navigate and use each reader, and typically, maintain logins for all of them. One student describes the experience as a “sick, expensive scavenger hunt” that makes “as much sense as going to three separate grocery stores to buy eggs, bread, and milk.” Although e-textbooks are thought to be a simpler solution, they really can’t be until students can utilize them on a unified platform.
Students today are used to digital tools that allow them to share everything from pictures of their morning cup of coffee to their notes from class. Put a book on an e-device, and they expect the same. So when they run into restrictions and a lack of social tools when using e-textbooks, they’re understandably disappointed. They’re looking for social reading app integrations, shared highlighting, and the ability to take advantage of web-based tools, not just reading.
Are e-textbooks a popular option at your school? Does your store offer the option? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Fewer college students bought and used e-textbooks in the 2011 academic year than in the year prior, according to a new report.
While about 6% of the textbooks students bought for courses in the 2010 academic year were digital books, only 3% were digital in 2011, according to the Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education report by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG), an industry research organization.
The study, conducted among 1,625 students in late 2011, asked a wide variety of questions about student attitudes toward textbooks and e-textbooks. The report was presented this week at a BISG higher education publishing event in New York. The report’s presenter, Steve Paxhia, president of Beacon Hill Strategic Solutions, a boutique publishing consulting firm, pointed out that the 2011 version of the survey had respondent demographics that were slightly weighted against e-book adoption compared to the previous year’s study, like more full-time students (vs. part-time students).
The academic publishing market has yet to find the same secure purchase in digital publishing as other segments have, like trade publishing.
Kelly Gallagher, vice president of publishing solutions at BISG, estimated in a later presentation that about 5% to 7% of the e-textbook market is digital, versus the 15% to 20% that many major trade publishers reported as digital in their 2011 earnings reports or the roughly 30% of the romance genre that is digital.
Part of the reason might be availability. According to research among its users by VitalSource Technologies, Inc., a digital textbook distributor owned by Ingram with two million users, e-textbooks are only “always” available for a course 23% of the time. The same survey revealed that if all things were equal (price and availability), students would choose to use e-textbooks 47% of the time.
Other interesting statistics to come from the conference:
– Students are roughly 20% more likely to seek the lowest price on a textbook when they pay for it versus when their parents pay for it
– Nearly a third of students buy their books from Amazon
– The No. 1 reason students buy print textbooks among those who prefer to do so is that they can re-sell them
– About a quarter of students who buy textbooks want to keep them for the future
– About three quarters of students say the No. 1 device they use for studying is a laptop or desktop computer
– About 3% of students say their tablet computer is their No. 1 studying device. About 5% use a tablet computer as their secondary study device. But 46% of students are “interested in an iPad as a study device”
In the article ‘Bricks’ Still Strong in a ‘Clicks’ World, published in NACS’ June 17 edition of the Campus Marketplace e-newsletter by Michael von Glahn, Editor of The College Store magazine, CAMEX attendees identified a list of both positive and negative issues affecting the collegiate retail industry.
Expanding on these ideas, MBS brings you a week-long series addressing several of these concerns and providing solutions as to how your store can enhance key strengths, minimize weaknesses, take advantage of opportunities, and reposition possible threats
It’s essential to understand your weaknesses in order to convert them into strengths. But don’t worry; for every challenge you face as a retailer, MBS has a solution.
Take a look at three key areas in which MBS can turn your store’s weaknesses into strengths:
Students demand lower price points, and meeting this need often comes at a steep cost.
Not with MBS, however. With more than 115,000 titles on hand at any given time—including the nation’s largest inventory of used textbooks—you’ll be able to optimize your bookstore’s textbook mix so you can meet the needs of your students without breaking your bottom line.
Used books represent both a tremendous profit potential for your store as well as a terrific value for your students, and as the nation’s largest textbook wholesaler, we have the largest inventory around.
In fact, stocking used books:
•satisfies student demand with 25% savings compared to new books
•increases your store’s bottom line by realizing a gross margin of 33%
•frees up inventory dollars so you can invest in high-profit general merchandise.
If you need new books, we can help with that too! Don’t spend long hours placing orders with multiple publishers only to pay full net price and wait weeks for delivery; let us streamline the process.
New books offer your store several benefits, including:
•Pay 12.5% less than publishers’ new prices.
•Expedite shipping – over 99.9% of our in-stock orders are filled and shipped within 24 hours.
•Enjoy the industry’s best return privilege
Take a look at our easy ordering options to get started!
As a retailer, your store has a lot more to worry about than just textbooks, and finding space for everything from apparel to merchandise isn’t always easy.
We understand; that’s why we do everything we can to help. Our easy ordering solutions simplify your preparation for fall rush by allowing you to order titles and receive them when you need them.
Maximize your fill-rate by taking advantage of fresh inventory with our rework service. Contact us to rework your order, and we’ll take care of the rest!
We’ll then fill your order and hold it securely in our warehouse until you’re ready to take stock. As you add titles, we’ll consolidate your order into one easy-to-receive shipment detailed in a single invoice. Or, choose to have several orders arrive on designated dates, if you prefer.
No matter which option you prefer, you maintain total control of the process.
To start your bin and request our rework service, email CServ@MBSbooks.com or call Order Processing at 1-800-325-0577.
It’s a fact – the number of online retailers continues to grow, and your store has more competition. By offering low cost course materials and the options your students seek, however, your store can win students’ business.
MBS makes it easy to provide a variety of price points on your shelves, without breaking your bottom line. For instance, keep the sale in your store by staying a step ahead of students’ needs with cost-saving course materials from MBS Rental.
Our program allows you to enhance student perception with:
•Access to high demand titles
•No shipping costs
•An eco-friendly textbook option
For more information, send your questions to Rental@MBSbooks.com
As the largest provider of educational eBooks, our Universal Digital Textbook (UDT) program is an easy and inexpensive way for your store to provide students with the latest educational resource that fits their active and technology-driven lives.
eBooks benefit students by allowing them to:
•Enhance learning with interactive features
•Study anytime, anywhere
•Lessen their backpack’s load
For more details on digital textbooks, email Susan Anno, UDT Sales Support, SAnno@MBSbooks.com
Stay tuned tomorrow for the ways we can help you expand your opportunities!