eTextbook Publisher Eases Restrictions Ever So Slightly

from the somewhat-more-palatable dept

Following the reports earlier this week that an e-textbook publisher was going to start selling heavily restricted e-textbooks at certain universities, there was a widespread discussion pointing out that the restrictions were onerous. The company, of course, can do whatever it wants, but it certainly seemed like the deal offered wasn’t a very good one. The e-book company, to their credit, has responded to a lot of these complaints and is easing some of the restrictions — though there are still huge tradeoffs. The five month expiration date will be expanded to a minimum 12 months, with the possibility of no expiration date at all. The limitation on printing just a little bit at a time will be loosened as well. This might ease some concerns, but it still seems like overkill. Users will still have to read the books on only one computer and won’t be able to “sell back” or “return” the book. It seems like they could do away with that as well. If they’re limiting it to a single computer in order to make it seem more like a tangible book, then why not include a feature that would let you transfer it to another computer or sell it back. If the concept of “selling back” an electronic textbook seems odd, realize that’s exactly the same way many people feel about an e-book that expires and is limited to only one computer — restrictions that make the book much less valuable to a potential buyer.

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Comments on “eTextbook Publisher Eases Restrictions Ever So Slightly”

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Kevin says:

No Subject Given

Well the concept of selling back an e-book is ridiculous. The whole reason people sell back books is to recoup at least some small fraction of the exorbitant cost of textbooks. If the companies simply lowered the cost of the e-book (which makes sense, since the materials are cheaper) people wouldnt worry about selling them back. Buy a book for $90 and sell it back for $30, or just buy an e-book for $45. What would YOU do? I know what I’d do.

school squirrel says:

Textbooks, electronic publishing

What is the reason that a professor needs to pay to have a textbook published? Hasn’t this whole discussion missed the point that there is no paper? There no capital plant and press needed? The only thing that needs to be done here is for an authority to determine what is to go into the text, someone masters it on their PC and you copy disks? The publisher is just a huge waste here now.

The only excuse the music and video and movie industry has to use is that there are large costs of producing video and movie contentl. That requires a plant and a studio, etc. The music industry barely has an excuse nowdays, for the publishers to be there, in that there could be an industry to advertise and capitalize on the music entertainment, and that requires some sort of assets (marketing, advertising, etc) to pursue that.

When I was at the University of Missouri, Rolla, my advisor had written an excellent text for the communication class (electrical engineering) and he simply ran off copies on the copier.

I realize that not all professors write textbooks, but many do and probably get some income from it. However, there is way too much made here to not have the texts simply ignored that are from publishers who don’t have a clue.

Phil Webb (user link) says:

Re: Textbooks, electronic publishing

school squirrel has hit the nail squarely on the head – electronic publishing of textbooks is an ideal time to reduce the cost to the student (significantly) AND increase the income of the author (again significantly) AND also to increase the available functionality of textbooks.

At Textbook Solutions we hope to achieve all three. Of course, digital rights is an important aspect of any electronic material these days, but so long as books can be transferred (not copied) to a different PC, then surely locking a book to a PC is not too great an issue, as Kevin says, while the cost is low.

Electronically published textbooks (or eTextbooks) will only become widespread when the costs are comparatively low compared to their printed counterpart, when there are enough eTextbooks being created to encourage the student to use this different method of study, and when the right viewer software is available to provide an integrated study environment.

Self-interest acknowledgement: I am a director of Textbook Solutions

Phil Webb (user link) says:

eTextbook distribution

To follow up on my previous posting, I thought you folks might be interested to know that our eTextbook software is now available for the creation and use of eTextbooks, and we have launched our online channel at

Points to note:

  • Cheap eTextbook prices (some even free)
  • Excellent deals for authors usually around 50% of list price

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