Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And speaking of textbooks...

Another interesting article from the Webware blog talks about the high cost of textbooks, and how Sony's eBook reader might help.

According to the author, Rafe Needleman, textbooks are in a death spiral of cost: textbooks cost so much, at least at the university level, because students sell their books back to the bookstore, depriving the textbook publisher of additional profits on multiple students. But the more expensive the books become, the more likely students are to resell them.

By publishing textbooks electronically, students can't resell the books. There is no secondary market, and publishers could reduce the price of their books because they have more customers to make a profit from. Furthermore, there are no printing costs. The content is delivered electronically.

Rather than downloading and reading the textbook on a laptop computer with limited battery life, or worse yet, lugging around a 40 pound book bag, students will be able to carry around and read their books on the Sony electronic book.

But Needleman shares this warning:
"Now, there are dozens of ways publishers could screw this up, mostly by overpricing their content, which would encourage hacking of the DRM, which would in response lead to onerous copy protection that could make e-books unworkable. But if--and it's a big if--publishers get on board and start selling licenses to their texts instead of the books themselves, everyone (except bookstores) could benefit."

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