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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  1. identicon
    Phil Webb, 6 Oct 2005 @ 6:22am

    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

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