Between the Covers

One of the benefits of the TLC is learning about what can be termed the back office of academia. One part of the back office is teaching aids like textbooks, and the publishers of these books naturally promote their products at academic conferences.

Book BindingTextbook publishers are essentially aggregators of content. Previously the content was originally produced and re-bundled in paper form; now the content is digital. Publishers now market how easy it is for instructors to customize the content of their products. If a customer wants to bundle his or her own lecture notes, webpages, embedded videos with content prepared by the publisher, it’s all possible.

It’s the same as the formerly dominant companies in the music industry saying “we used to sell vinyl LPs and CDs prepackaged with 8-10 songs by a single artist, now we can put together a customized album for you.” The problem is that digital content can now be aggregated easily and cheaply by anyone at anytime. So textbook publishers are now in a real bind (pun intended).

More on how this problem connects to the front office of academia in a week or two.

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