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Book publishers finally getting their digital acts together?

Not quite, but an interesting post on Ars Technica suggests that they might finally be turning a corner in terms of providing digital content, instead of relying on traditional paper publishing. Why do we care here in Ed Tech?
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

Not quite, but an interesting post on Ars Technica suggests that they might finally be turning a corner in terms of providing digital content, instead of relying on traditional paper publishing. Why do we care here in Ed Tech? Because paper publishing costs schools exorbitant sums in textbooks (and related repairs, damages, and maintenance), kills trees, and fills innumerable backpacks to overflowing, any move towards providing content digitally (and at reduced cost or via different pricing models) is a welcome change.

While the Ars post focuses on non-textbooks, it raises some more general points:

...whatever the limitations of the current plans, these are important experiments. Book publishers, like music labels, aren't stupid, and the ones we've talked to are acutely aware of their need to stay on top of digital developments. The book business, though far older than the recorded music business, is still lucky enough to have time on its side: no e-book reader currently offers a better reading experience than paper. But that could change (new readers are looking quite sharp), and if people do decide they like reading from screens after all, expect book publishers to face the same piracy problems that plague other industries...

The post specifically mentions efforts by Harper Collins to give away entire books online for free (in theory, enticing readers to actually buy more books because of the limited readability and DRM) and a model employed by Random House, in which sections of books are sold iTunes-style. Regardless of the models being explored, the fact that this slow-to-change industry is even flirting with electronic distribution is a harbinger of improvements to come for those of us who would rather deliver electronic materials to students.

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