A used-textbook market, piracy, and students opting to not buy assigned course materials are issues the Indiana University is addressing with its eText initiative. The solution IU created negotiates deep discounts on textbook list prices from publishers in return for a guarantee that every student will buy the e-text.
The system appears to be working, according to Nik Osborne, chief of staff for IU’s office of the vice president for IT, in this Q&A with Campus Technology. He said he believes the program saves students money and allows publishers and authors a fair price for their work. Other universities around the country are showing interest in setting up a similar NET+ service that provide McGraw-Hill e-texts, Courseload readers, and a platform to add notes, combined with their learning management system.
“We're pretty sure that a shift to digital and print is going to happen,” Osborne said. “It seems to be where the publishers are going. It seems to be where the Department of Education is trying to push people, as the software and the devices get better. There are just going to be things in the next three to five years that you can do on an e-text that you can't do on a textbook. Not only in higher education but in the K-12 market there's going to be even more of a push to digital.”
The college store is not part of Osborne’s equation. Store professionals should be exploring every possible way to leverage their expertise in course material adoptions, coursepacks, retailing electronics, and delivering print-on-demand options to become part of the discussion.