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Old 02-22-2010, 10:32 AM   #1
ekaser
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NYT: Textbooks That Professors Can Rewrite Digitally

An interesting article in the New York Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/22/bu...er=rss&emc=rss

Quote:
In a kind of Wikipedia of textbooks, Macmillan, one of the five largest publishers of trade books and textbooks, is introducing software called DynamicBooks, which will allow college instructors to edit digital editions of textbooks and customize them for their individual classes.

Professors will be able to reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations.
and

Quote:
The modifiable e-book editions will be much cheaper than traditional print textbooks. “Psychology,” for example, which has a list price of $134.29 (available on Barnes & Noble’s Web site for $122.73), will sell for $48.76 in the DynamicBooks version. Macmillan is also offering print-on-demand versions of the customized books, which will be priced closer to traditional textbooks.

Fritz Foy, senior vice president for digital content at Macmillan, said the company expected e-book sales to replace the sales of used books. Part of the reason publishers charge high prices for traditional textbooks is that students usually resell them in the used market for several years before a new edition is released. DynamicBooks, Mr. Foy said, will be “semester and classroom specific,” and the lower price, he said, should attract students who might otherwise look for used or even pirated editions.
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Old 02-22-2010, 10:51 AM   #2
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LOL. Publishers charge high prices for textbooks because they can get away with it, pure and simple.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:05 PM   #3
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Can't say I have much interest in doing that.

Textbooks are never perfect--but that's what lecture and additional reading assignments are for.

I fill in the weak areas, stuff I think was important the book didn't cover etc. by covering that material in lecture, assigning some articles to read etc. I don't really see the point of editing a text book to fill in that stuff.

Might as well just do what many of my colleagues do and not use a textbook and just put together a course packet.

Last edited by dmaul1114; 02-22-2010 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 02-22-2010, 02:45 PM   #4
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It seems a wee bit silly to me, too, but I can see this going over BIG in the "bible belt"... all those pesky "evolution" sections in the science books, snip-snip, paste a little "intelligent design", ahhh, things are much better!

If I were a text book AUTHOR, I'd be royally pissed about having my work edited by others with no control.
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:35 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekaser View Post
If I were a text book AUTHOR, I'd be royally pissed about having my work edited by others with no control.
Yep. It would really only work for books where the author's agree to it from the start, and I don't think many would.

Moot for me since I teach at a research university and won't write textbooks as it does me nothing for tenure and promotion as peer reviewed research publications and research grant funding are what matter.

But I'd never write anything that others could edit at their whim.
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:42 PM   #6
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This idea was also the subject of comments at An American Editor and at Teleread. At An American Editor the focus was on textbooks for high schools and thwarting the influence of pressure groups to control the content.
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Old 02-22-2010, 04:50 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekaser View Post
It seems a wee bit silly to me, too, but I can see this going over BIG in the "bible belt"... all those pesky "evolution" sections in the science books, snip-snip, paste a little "intelligent design", ahhh, things are much better!
I agree. They can delete entire chapters?! So those already dodgy bible belt colleges can claim to use industry recognised texts that have had the heck edited out of them so they fit ideological beliefs. I wonder how this would affect political science in some of those conservative colleges? Re-writing the Bush years, Iraq and 911 is now possible to paint the republicans in a more favorable light.
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Old 03-01-2010, 01:27 PM   #8
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History textbooks need a chapter on the myth of WWII's genocide of the Jews.
Biology textbooks need a chapter on Intelligent Design to bring balance.
Health textbooks need a chapter on the benefits of Beta Carotene (conveniently available through the teacher's in class vitamin supplement business).

What could possibly go wrong with this publishing model?
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