In higher education, we all know that the cost of text books is significant. These days at American Public University, we estimate that on average, course materials will run between $125 and $175 per course. With a typical bachelor’s degree requiring 120 credits, that’s about 40 courses or about $5,000 to $7,000! The University realized early on that this can be quite a burden, so the school provides a Book Grant to degree-seeking undergrads which picks up most course material costs. Other students, including those in graduate programs can take advantage of purchasing books from discounters such as Chegg.com and Amazon.com, and can also purchases used books and sell their books back to various vendors when they complete courses.
However, there is innovation in the textbook industry, and it is coming mostly from outside the publishers.
There is a rumor that Apple will be hosting an event related to the publishing industry (possible textbooks) in New York in January 2012. Could it center around electronic editions of textbooks? Could it be new software for the iPad that makes etextbooks more like printed books? Could it be a sub-$100 text book ereader? Could it be related to iTunesU and making more texts available for purchase?
There’s certainly a lot of speculation, and you can read more about it here.
Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, with the heavy market adoption of ereaders and tablets, the migration of textbooks from the print to electronic will be sooner than we think. The impact will most certainly be greater than we imagined on the economy, industry, how we use and interact with texts and how we use tablets for our studies.