by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 4th 2010 3:24pm
We've pointed out in the past how the college textbook market is ripe for disruption. You have a market where books are ridiculously overpriced by publishers, knowing that students are often compelled to purchase the product. As book prices have continued to rise, apparently some universities are experimenting with bulk buying licenses to ebook textbooks and simply charging the students a fee. The schools all say they're doing this to reduce textbook fees -- and I'm sure they mean well. But the very fact that many publishers seem to be jumping on this as well suggests that they know damn well, in the end, this will work out well for them. First, it forces all the students to "buy" the books at full price. It wipes out the secondary market (which many students make use of in selling their books back), and even the case of the student who just checks the book out of the library. Also, we've seen in places like Canada how a simple mandatory student fee can start out low, and then suddenly jump massively. It's good that some universities want to lower book fees, and making use of ebooks is a possible solution, but mandatory fees seem ripe for abuse.
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