The business of textbooks or why do students prefer print?

Clint Lalonde, Sept 06, 2013
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Students prefer print. We hear that a lot, especially from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and we hear all sorts of explanations, for example, they light the feel of a book, etc. But as Clint Lalonde says, "we are missing out on an equal, if not more, important factor biasing student format preference. Economics." Generally, it's cheaper for a student to buy a book and sell it back. Considering that students have to pay for their own readers and internet access off-campus eBooks have done nearly enough to become competitive. Of course, they're offered by publishers - why would they? But, "offer a free and open text and then it is a vastly different story – students will choose the free and open electronic version of a textbook over low cost printed version." That's the end-game, of course, and while publishers (and the Chronicle) may drag their feet, we know where this is going.

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