I’m sure everyone who went to college has had the experience of having to buy a whole book when their professor only turned out to need a few chapters from it. One of the obvious benefits of digital media is that it is more easily segmented than a printed and bound book; in theory, students ought to be able to buy just the parts they need.
That’s the idea behind e-textbook site Bookstep.com. This startup allows students to buy just the portions of books and materials their professors need for their classes. Founder Mike Basaraba tells Publishing Perspectives:
We believe this approach yields an infinite number of choices to students and faculty; where both get a chance to enjoy real savings and the convenience of an electronic edition. Since our platform is completely agnostic, our pricing model permits mixing of content without running into copyright issues; our approach also benefits publishers and self-publishing authors.
The site offers students several subscription plans, including a pay-as-you-go option and six-month and 12-month full subscriptions. It also adds social networking and study tools, allowing students to connect with other students studying the same materials.
Basaraba sees digital as the ultimate future of textbook publishing, and predicts the landcape will look very different in five years.
I find the whole digital textbook market very interesting, simply because it’s so different from the standard fiction and nonfiction e-book market. Mass-market e-books tend to focus on just transposing the printed work to a digital version and leaving it at that, textbooks are seeing a lot more change and innovation. Perhaps it’s because mass-market books were already pretty much perfect the way they were, while nobody was really happy with textbooks but they were the only thing we had at the time. At any rate, it’s going to be fun to see how the next few years go. I wish this stuff had been around when I was in college.