The Coming Disruption In The Textbook Market
from the innovators-dilemma dept
Textbook pricing is always a controversial subject among college students and professors — many of whom feel that the prices of the books are artificially inflated. Textbook publishers faced their first “shock” when internet booksellers came along, and they suddenly had less of a monopoly on the supply of books. But even that didn’t decrease the price all that much. Over the past few years, a number of textbook publishers have been freaking out over the “threat” of “piracy.” But rather than recognizing that they needed to improve their product to compete, they basically just looked for ways to make people pay even more. So, it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the market is ripe for disruption.
We’ve already seen some innovative business models enter the space, such as Flat World Knowledge and its free online textbooks with tiered pricing for additional products — and it looks like various state education agencies are actively interested in moving away from the old model of super expensive textbooks. Reader MikeZ points us to an article detailing how a bunch of states have been making it easier for teachers to look at switching to online educational materials rather than textbooks, recognizing both that textbooks are often too expensive and not nearly as useful as some other resources. States that had budget line items for textbooks only are quickly redefining things so that money can be spent on other educational resources.
This certainly doesn’t mean the end of the traditional textbook, but if the existing publishers follow the footsteps of other industries in trying to resist this disruption rather than adapt to it, expect plenty of angry stories about the evils of internet “piracy,” with little recognition that piracy isn’t the problem at all.