Friday, September 30, 2011

Indiana U. negotiated low student prices for E-Textbooks required in some courses

55% students read less; 22% more.  
"Slightly more than half of the students surveyed—about 55 percent—said they read less of the e-textbook than they would have read from a printed copy, while 22 percent said they read more from the e-textbook than they would have from a printed copy."
"... the university requires certain students to purchase e-textbooks and negotiates unusually low prices by promising publishers large numbers of sales—now has the participation of major textbook publishers, and university officials plan to expand the effort."
- Excerpts above/below from "Major Publishers Join Indiana U. Project That Requires Students to Buy E-Textbooks," By Jeffrey R. Young, September 15, 2011, 7:00 am, Wired Campus - The Chronicle of Higher Education

"..McGraw-Hill Higher Education announced that it has agreed to join the project, which has been in a pilot stage for more than a year. A handful of other publishers—John Wiley & Sons; Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group; W.W. Norton; and Flat World Knowledge—have signed on to the effort as well.

"..Students in a select group of courses are required to pay a materials fee, which gets them access to the assigned electronic textbooks or other readings for the course. The university essentially becomes the broker of the textbook sales, and because it is buying in bulk and guaranteeing a high volume, officials say they can score better prices than can the campus bookstore or other retailers.

".. students save more money through the program than they would if they bought a printed book and resold it at the end of the semester (a common practice among cost-conscious students). A McGraw-Hill official said the deal gave the university a 20 percent discount off its usual e-book prices.

".. the university’s deal with publishers gives students access to the e-textbooks for a longer period of time than publishers traditionally allow for electronic copies. Typically, the digital textbook files self-destruct after a set period of time, usually a semester or a year. For e-textbooks at Indiana’s program, students are allowed to read the electronic copies for as long as they are enrolled at the university.

"Officials from McGraw-Hill say...the model helped them encourage use of the company’s new digitally enhanced textbooks, including its McGraw-Hill Connect line of titles that include online quizzes for students..

"..the Indiana model will help solve another problem faced by professors—that their students often wait to purchase textbooks and are therefore not ready to do assignments at the beginning of the semester.

"Each professor at Indiana can decide whether to participate in the e-textbook project. So far 22 courses have done so, and last month the university released a report outlining how those professors and their students (1,700 in all) liked the arrangement. It included data from surveys of students in 12 of those courses—1,037 students.

"More than half of them—about 60 percent—said they preferred the e-textbook to a traditional printed copy. But the satisfaction varied wildly by course. In one case, only 36 percent of students preferred the e-textbook, though officials say students in that course were unhappy because the professor made little use of the required textbook so they felt they got limited benefit from the required fee. In another course, 84 percent of students said they preferred the e-textbook to print.

"Officials were watching closely to see whether students simply printed out the e-books and read from those paper copies. According to system logs, 68 percent of the students printed no pages, while 19 percent printed more than 50 pages."

Photo of large pile of discarded books and filled trash bags, by "haunted by Leonard Cohen," March 5, 2009,
 Some rights reserved CC Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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