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Old 05-10-2009, 11:13 PM   #1
Nate the great
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An e-textbook competitor for Amazon

I've been working this evening on a list of companies I want to talk to at Digital Book 2009.

For example, I want to talk to the big 3 textbook publishers mentioned last week in Amazon's press release. I'm planning to ask whether they publish their textbooks in Epub as well as on the Kindle. (What can I say, I have this thing about Amazon not becoming a monopoly.) I personally think it's better to have a textbook in Epub rather than on the Kindle because you can use the full resources of your computer.

I also wanted to talk to Barnes & Noble about the future of the eReader format, as well as see if I can get a hint about a possible device.

As I was writing those notes I realized that here might be a competitor for Amazon in the etextbook market. Barnes & Noble already sells textbooks; it runs 600 college bookstores in the US. It also has an online presence for each bookstore where a student can order books. How difficult could it be to expand the ordering system to include etextbooks?

So, if you're going to DB09, look me up. I want to know if this would work.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:39 AM   #2
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That's an excellent point Nate.
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:26 AM   #3
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Also ask them if students can sell their ebook once they are done and whether the ebooks have expiry dates. Also more info on DRM is always helpful. People have the right to know what they can do with the product they buy.
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:11 AM   #4
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The bookstore at my univ is a B&N. It is a madhouse before each new semester. An opportunity to download ebooks would certainly ease some of the chaos. If they were discounted off the pbook price, I imagine parents would jump in with both feet.
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Old 05-11-2009, 12:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DixieGal View Post
The bookstore at my univ is a B&N. It is a madhouse before each new semester. An opportunity to download ebooks would certainly ease some of the chaos. If they were discounted off the pbook price, I imagine parents would jump in with both feet.

onto the kindle !!! :removestonguefromroofofmouth:
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Old 05-11-2009, 01:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Nate the great View Post
As I was writing those notes I realized that here might be a competitor for Amazon in the etextbook market. Barnes & Noble already sells textbooks; it runs 600 college bookstores in the US. It also has an online presence for each bookstore where a student can order books. How difficult could it be to expand the ordering system to include etextbooks?
I think B&N has to do this to ensure their own financial viability. In times past (my era) you were limited to what the on campus bookstore had and you had no choice but to pay their prices.

With my daughter in college now, I was please to learn that student's book buying options are about four versions beyond what I experienced. V2 was buying at off-campus bookstores that existed by beating the on-campus bookstore price. V3 was buying online at Amazon and others. V4 I was pleased to discover this year with Chegg.com that 'rents' textbooks to students for the period of the term. So now my daughter buys textbooks in her major and 'rents' the textbooks for electives and other courses that she'll never use again. If B&N doesn't find a way to adapt, there will be tumbleweeds and crickets chirping during fall rush as the only students in the on-campus bookstore are snapping pics of their course books in the B&N bookstore so they can comparison shop at Half.com and Chegg.com.

Last edited by pking36330; 05-11-2009 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by pking36330 View Post
I think B&N has to do this to ensure their own financial viability. In times past (my era) you were limited to what the on campus bookstore had and you had no choice but to pay their prices.

With my daughter in college now, I was please to learn that student's book buying options about four version beyond what I experienced. V2 was buying at off-campus bookstores that existed by beating the on-campus bookstore price. V3 was buying online at Amazon and others. V4 I was pleased to discover this year with Chegg.com that 'rents' textbooks to students for the period of the term. So now my daughter buys textbooks in her major and 'rents' the textbooks for electives and other courses that she'll never use again. If B&N doesn't find a way to adapt, there will be tumbleweeds and crickets chirping during fall rush as the only students in the on-campus bookstore are snapping pics of their course books in the B&N bookstore so they can comparison shop at Half.com and Chegg.com.
Thank you for listing the sites in that post. My eldest graduates high school on the 6th, and while Texas is moving rapidly into electronic texts not everything is available yet.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:10 PM   #8
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Knowing from my daughter how expensive and heavy a lot of academic books are - this is a very laudable scheme - it will be interesting to know how quickly and how efficiently as many books can be made available electonically - and then at what discount ....

She has, I know, had to buy books in the 150 pound (sterling) range for her course....that's just one book .....
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:44 PM   #9
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I'm looking forward to the development of Open Textbook projects like the one at Connexions.

It allows instructors to produce 'modules' which roughly translate to a chapter in a book. These modules can then be packaged into a 'collection' which roughly translates into a book. The individual modules and the collections as a whole can all be downloaded in PDF format. Modules from different authors can also be combined to produce adhoc collections, and in fact the intent is for instructors to collaberate with one another. For example, three or four professors could agree to produce five modules each for a collection on a course in Statistics. Interactive material and videos can also be included, which can then be downloaded as a Zip file. The project is just getting started, but it looks like it has a lot of potential.

There is a nice youtube video about the project that was taken during one of the TED conferences. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RRymi-lFHpE
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:08 AM   #10
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I suspect you're right Nate. We know their new involvement with Fictionwise, whatever that shakes out to be.. And we know they've been talking to Plastic Logic and someone else, so I suspect the textbook thing is exactly where their thoughts are.
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Old 05-19-2009, 12:29 AM   #11
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I love being able to get my books online. Just today our official bookstore neglected to order one of my classes books and couldn't be bother to tell the professor. Or even list it as one of the books!

And I just saved $80 about 15 minutes ago not buying from them. Ah, the internet....
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