Wednesday, February 3, 2010

iPad, shmiPad "students remain big fans of printed books"

In today's Wall Street Journal there's a story about most of the big textbook publishers getting religion . . again. The silly meme is that Print is Dead. This time it plays out with the iPad. Full story:
Major textbook publishers have struck deals with software company ScrollMotion Inc. to adapt their textbooks for the electronic page, as the industry embraces a hope that digital devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPad will transform the classroom.
Not surprisingly, the usual cast of characters are moving together.

"People have been talking about the impact of technology on education for 25 years. It feels like it is really going to happen in 2010," said Rik Kranenburg, group president of higher education for the education unit of McGraw-Hill Cos. and one of the publishers involved in the project.

Other publishers include Houghton Mifflin Harcourt K-12, which is a unit of Education Media & Publishing Group Ltd.; Pearson PLC's Pearson Education, and Washington Post Co.'s Kaplan Inc., known for its test-prep and study guides.

But there is an inconvenient truth.

Maureen McMahon, president of Kaplan Publishing, said a recent Kaplan study showed that students remain big fans of printed books but that they would be more receptive to e-textbooks on portable digital devices.

The problem with textbooks is not that they are printed. The problem is they are too slow and expensive. Like many globals, they ignore the facts and buzz substitutes for reality. Best guess is that Kaplan will figure it out first. They generate most of the profit for the Washington Post anyways.

Consider study guides with QR codes instead of textbooks.
Plus you can get all those great analytics. Plus you can print it out on your MFP and take it to the local coffee shop to discuss with your friends.


  1. Interesting topic. Still thinking about it.

    See also:

  2. Thanks for the links. I look forward to going through them in a bit.

    Check out the Nokia Pearson story I just posted. It amazes me how grown ups in the print and publishing business just can't get their heads around innovating Print Centric methods of information distribution. Given the new realities of 2d codes, you would think it's obvious...

    Ah.. the power of the buzz to confuse the too busy, being busy...

    Meanwhile Kodak went from around 4 to over 6 and change in the last week, and McClatchey is is well over $5.

    Im pretty sure that sooner or later these numbers will get on Bloomberg radar, then the real fun will start. Since I only buy long, it won't affect me much. But the longer the Print is Dead meme has currency the more opportunities in a print centric portfolio.

    all good (2me).

  3. I think that the only reason that people are choosing to go with text books, is because of the loss in sales that Professors would have if they made their (self-written) textbooks, into e-books. It is a great loss in profit for those greedy professors, and it will only be a matter of time until students graduate to a think, light-weight IPad-Like device.

  4. Nope. I don't buy the argument. Textbooks are the way they are because the easiest thing to do is what you did yesterday..

    Electronics? yes. But digital print is perfect for the mix.

  5. Heh, I like the idea that academics are keeping a multi-billion dollar industry back.

    Put together some thoughts on this topic

  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  7. Peter,

    I deleted my previous comment as I made an error in the math.

    It was in response to your mention of "academics" as the villains of the textbook industry, I offer a little screed about the academic money machine in the States.

    I'll just do the math, for this go round..

    the Biz Model:
    Tuition lets say $20K +
    Number of Courses: let's say 5
    Income per student/per course = $4K

    Adjunct at $5,000 per course

    10 students per course = $40K
    1 adjunct per course = $5K

    gross on each small class = $35K with essentially no marginal cost.

    Once you consider on line education and lecture classes it gets really interesting.