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Old 10-06-2010, 08:02 AM   #1
Edge User
Unhappy E-text disappointment

I was very excited to receive my new eDGe and particularly to use the great e-textbbook features that I have read so much about. As soon as my device came in the mail I rushed to the e-text tab on the eDGe site.

I was so disappointed to find that the majority of the college texts - all those from Cengage and McGraw-Hill - have limited reader timeframes - 180 or 365 days! I use my textbook for YEARS as backup references, refreshers and resources for other courses. Paying $100 or more for a book that expires just does not work for me.

I understand that many students do not care to keep their texts like I do. However, they should at least have an option of one that does not expire - similar to buying a real book that you can keep on your shelf as long as you like.
This severely impacts the usefulness of my eDGe.
Old 10-06-2010, 10:18 AM   #2
Edge User
Unfortunately, you've discovered the ugly face of textbook publishers and their greed magnified by the DRM capabilities of eBooks While they've published new editions every year in the past, they couldn't force students to buy them, even if the prof listed them on the course book list (after all, the last couple of editions would be close enough for cash strapped students). But now, they can actually force students to buy a new textbook - at full price - every year.

This is not unique to enTourage, please understand. Hopefully as more students discover the obscenity of eTextbook licensing, pressure will come to bear on publishers to not time-limit their textbooks.

Last edited by borisb; 10-06-2010 at 10:21 AM.
Old 10-06-2010, 11:46 AM   #3
Edge User
One solution is to search out the least expensive used copy of the textbook you are able to find to have as a reference for the future. I have purchased used on Amazon for as little as $2.00. Another is to print as many allowed pages, with the most important material, each time period and place the printed pages in a binder. A lot of the texts have printing restrictions that would allow the whole book to be printed eventually.
Old 10-06-2010, 12:26 PM   #4
Edge User
Since the textbook would be readable in Adobe Digital Editions, couldn't the pages also be printed to PDF (using something like CutePDF)? If you own Adobe Acrobat Standard, you could combine all the PDFs into one file.
Old 10-06-2010, 12:53 PM   #5
Edge User
That works for some, some have restrictions against virtual printers. It becomes a PDF jpg though, so you lose search capabilities and can't copy sections of text unless you have a program that will OCR the pages.

To rebuild PDF files into one "book" I use PDFTK Builder portable

Last edited by cheyennedonna; 10-06-2010 at 12:57 PM.
Old 10-06-2010, 07:07 PM   #6
Edge User
Learn about drm and its alternatives ... think like jailbreaking an iPhone.
Old 10-07-2010, 12:54 AM   #7
Edge User
I realize that I will be vastly outnumbered on this but there is another side to the publishing story. I will admit up front that I work for a small publishing company which produces textbooks for the engineering market. but please don't flame me for being on the dark side.

An example may show each of you the dilemma that we are in. Our technical textbooks cost an obscent amount of money to produce with a very limited lifetime and market. For example, one series of ours which includes 8 texts cost about $1.2 million direct costs to produce initially. The paper version sells for $900. Typical print charges are 25% and Labour overheads are 20%. The international market for this series may be 500 sets per year and each set must be reauthored (not just updated and version dated) at least every five years due to their technical nature. Gross revenue over this period is $2.25 million. Costs are $1.0125 million leaving a Gross margin of $1.2375 million. This leaves a net profit of 1.7% when the initial costs are subtracted. Other publishing lines may be more lucrative but not often above 5-7%. Resale of our texts will quickly make the product line unproductive and its loss will negatively affect those learners who depend on it.

When we decided to enter the e-textbook market we realized that there were savings to be made on the printing costs. We decided, as did most publishers, to deliver these savings to the customers. That is why you will see publishers typically charging 25% less for e-textbooks than paper books. I cannot speak for large multinational publishers who may have greater efficiencies than us but for the small publisher we use the following guide to set our prices and e-textbook usage (many actually suggested by the folks at Entourage) Price: 75% of Paper price, Ownership: unlimited time, Printing: once over a two year period, Downloading: onto two registered devices. We are looking at subscription models but would appreciate your suggestions.

As a publisher in the educational market we saw great promise in the eDGe and so far the product has greatly exceeded our expectations. As a toy, social media or simple reading device it has good but not leading the industry features. Its technology is fairly robust and current, regardless of the opinions of technical naysayers who frankly should get a life and actually use the eDGe. I look forward to new features but not by regretting the good we already have.

As a useful educational tool the eDGe is a generation ahead of anything else on the market. As a company, Entourage gets it and thankfully so do the vast majority of this forum's contributors. Most importantly, for our learners, it has allowed them to interface with their material and all the myriad reference resources they require to a greater degree than any educational technology has ever provided. To paraphrase a rather silly designation we bestowed on a rather special member of this community, the eDGe has allowed them to be "One with the Book".
Old 10-07-2010, 07:42 AM   #8
Edge User
I can not get this text book issue. it must be an American thing again. In Europe you get them free of charge from your college / university library. You already paid for your education once, access to information must be free. And our professors share their own produced textbooks freely to their students. It is a rip off for one of the most vulnerable category of society. BTW, Primopdf from windows prints almost anything as full text pdf. and foxit pdf edit, edits the pdf.

Last edited by MichaelV; 10-07-2010 at 09:50 AM.
Old 10-07-2010, 10:00 AM   #9
Edge User
Thanks for the detailed insight, Bob. Since getting my eDGe and getting into ebooks, I've learned alot about publishing costs and I now better understand pricing.

My question is, though, why do publishers feel compelled to self-destruct their e-texts when the paper equivalent they've been selling for decades remain useable indefinitely? If publishers have been surviving on paper texts which some students buy every year and other students buy second hand, why would e-texts be any different? It seems that your sales come from students wanting the latest version, even if some students are using last year's version and it seems to me e-text would be no different. Or, are publishers seeing enough piracy of e-texts that they have to overcharge (dare I say, punish? ) the legitimate buyers to compensate for lost sales?

I do ask this honestly
Old 10-07-2010, 11:36 AM   #10
Edge User
Europe has a whole different take on this education thing. You also pay a WHOLE lot less for your education than we pay over here. I studied in Belgium and paid a total of $200 US for the entire year. There is nowhere I can go in the States where I would pay anything comparable to that. If I could find a school where I paid $10,000 for the year that would be very inexpensive for us. It's one of the many things I think Europe does right that we get WAY wrong.
Old 10-07-2010, 11:45 AM   #11
Edge User
In the past 20 years, Canada sadly has moved in the direction of the US model and away from the European one One course at the University of Toronto now costs what a whole year's tuition cost in 1985.
Old 10-07-2010, 11:49 AM   #12
Edge User
Very very sad.
Old 10-07-2010, 12:52 PM   #13
Edge User
Not for the government. They're cutting post-secondary funding and thus better able to balance their budget (or trying to), so they look like they're fiscally responsible :/
Old 10-07-2010, 01:31 PM   #14
Edge User
I certainly wish that this was the norm in North America as well. It would make everything simpler. Unfortunately less than 5% of our college clients provide the texts as a part of their program. Others have students purchase texts from bookstores or third parties as best they can.
Old 10-07-2010, 01:57 PM   #15
Edge User
Originally Posted by borisb View Post
why do publishers feel compelled to self-destruct their e-texts when the paper equivalent they've been selling for decades remain useable indefinitely?
I believe that most textbook manufacturers do not have any issue with the resale of texts (paper or e-text). The issue arises with duplication and subsequent resale of the copy. Individuals are challenged with reproducing and selling high quality print versions since commercial outlets will not undertake this activity without permission from the copyright holder. E-texts, however, are copyable in high quality formats on a personal basis and as such this abuse of ownership has a much higher likelihood of occurring. Texts (both paper band electronic) that are linked through to online subscriptions are much less likely to have this issue since publishers can provide much higher quality and more interactive learning experiences to the user while the subscription is valid. The relationship is the same between a black and white vs colour textbooks. The same information is in each version but the colour one provides a higher potential for learning due to the additional sensory perceptions.
Again, I cannot address the base costs for producing learning materials beyond those that we experience. I do believe that there is some instances of the gasoline company mentality which may go along the lines of "We are all competing vigorously for a limited student dollar but have agreed informally that our competition begins at a baseline of $150 per technical textbook.

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