We are the Occupy The Bookstore/Texts.com team. It’s been a year since our AMA about the legal threats we faced over our Chrome plugin — we’re still fighting the good fight, so ask us anything!
Honestly, from what I've seen, professors are generally apathetic and just unaware of their place in the textbook model.
Publisher reps build relationships where they sell professors on the newest editions -- oftentimes with supplementary teaching aids, online quizzes, etc. -- which they don't think twice before assigning. This causes them to overlook perfectly good "old" editions, open-source alternatives, etc.
They'll also sometimes jump at "custom editions," which are sold as stripped-down and affordable versions of their textbooks which only cover the exact pieces of the curriculum they want to cover. While this may sound good at first, it also destroys/limits the resale value of that book, which ensures that next semester's students will have buy from them directly again.
Lastly, while you'll often hear about professors assigning their own textbooks, or getting huge kickbacks from publishing reps. While this does happen (sometimes egregiously), it's definitely not the norm.
edit, though I do get PMs like this from time to time: http://i.imgur.com/OMU4xM9.png
Why was this ama deleted?
Sorry, we had something come up and we had to run. We did not want to leave this AMA hanging by not answering any questions so we deleted it.
Heya this is Andrew Murgola from Textbookly.
As a fellow creator of a textbook price comparison engine I'm wondering when and why did the idea of creating a comparison engine come to you?
Hey Andrew, Textbookly is looking great, by the way.
Maybe you know more than me, but I think that price-comparison aggregators have been around for a long time. I remember using SlugBooks back in college, and loving the service. Now, of course, there is Textbookly, Texts, Book.ly, and many, many others.
I wanted to create a price-comparison service built around a free student exchange. Basically, adding another level to the whole mission of helping students find the best possible deal -- if they can connect directly, sellers earn more and buyers spend even less.
How is January treating you?
What's your opinion on students pirating textbooks?
I mean, I feel like it's an inevitability as long 1) prices force students to "get creative," and 2) it's relatively easy to upload/find the books. I can't say I blame any student who chooses to go that route.
That said, publishers are already working on (and improving their existing) tactics to combat that behavior. They are putting out one-time access codes and creating custom editions, trying to force students to use "their" technology and materials.
As a recent college grad, I totally get it... there's nothing more infuriating than shelling out hundreds of dollars for a book that you might not even end up using.
How much longer will students be using physical textbooks and will they be ripped off more or less in the future do you think? Will DRM become a big thing with these books?
I think that physical textbooks will continue to be the most widespread for at least the next 5-10 years, and possibly longer. From the numbers I've seen, and from polling our users, it seems that students still use a physical book over 90% of the time. Of course, the smart money is that there will be a shift to digital, but there are a number of factors slowing that adoption (huge amounts of expensive inventory already printed, a proven model that makes $, professors loathe to change, etc.)
In the short term, we think that DRM / Digital Books will actually hurt students. They're not much cheaper (if at all), and there's generally no resale value. It also promotes an environment where students are forced to engage in the "digital component" of their curriculum, which forces everyone to purchase an access code (even if they're using a physical / older edition).
In the long term, we're bullish on the promise of open-source textbooks eventually overtaking the market. There are already some awesome projects in the works, so we're really rooting for that effort as the silver-bullet to help students in the future.
tl;dr: another 5-10 years; digital will prob not move the needle and/or hurt short term; the shift to open-source (digital) will be great.
Are professors generally for or against the current textbook model? Are they helping or hurting the cause?
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