"iBookstore vs Kindle Bookstore" & "Which Device Wins?"
Bookstores Should Copy Best Buy's Approach

Textbook Publishing vs. Lifelong Learning Publishing

The textbook publishing industry certainly has its share of challenges.  It's hard telling whether upstarts like Flatworld Knowledge will ever fully disrupt this sector but as the textbook-buying parent of two college students I admit I'm pulling for underdogs like Flatworld.  Everyone knows textbooks are ridiculously expensive but I'm not here to lobby for a price cut.  What I'm wondering about is why the textbook publishers are so focused on the school years but then they largely ignore students after they've graduated from college.

Yes, I'm well aware of the journal publishing world and how a number of textbook publishers offer a wide variety of periodicals showcasing the latest in R&D.  I'm also aware of the various e-products offered for researchers, but they're mostly database front-ends; great resources, but not what I'm talking about.

What I want to know is this: When a college graduate enters the workforce with a computer science degree, for example, why aren't the textbook publishers offering them a tool to continue their education throughout their career?  Lifelong learning was something my parents didn't have to worry much about but it's important for my generation and critical for my kids' generation.  If you're not keeping up with the latest developments in your field you're toast.  So why aren't the publishers of textbooks on programming languages, computer technology, etc., lined up to sell that new CS grad a subscription to a lifelong learning service?  Why are they content with a 1-, 2- or at most 4-year revenue stream when they could be building a much more valuable customer relationship for 20 or 30 years?

If the traditional publishers are too busy to bother with it maybe this is the real opportunity for the open textbook publishers like Flatworld Knowledge.  They could keep building those freely accessible online textbooks, but at the same time they should work on a learning product for students after they graduate.  Focus on providing lifelong learners with the information they need to build upon their school years and advance their careers.  Make it freely available online and charge for the convenience of delivery via an app for mobile devices, for example.  Better yet, as a graduation gift, why not offer the first year free?  If you build a compelling product you'll quickly convert those free subscribers into paying customers, many of which will become lifelong paying customers.


Eric Granata

I try to stay current on trends and new developments via websites like http://tutsplus.com/
What would also be nice is if sites like these offered some kind of resume building certification or accreditation but that may be outside their scope.

Book Calendar

I have been taking online classes through my professional association, they are a combination of message board, social network, and readings in a textbook. I sometimes wish they would just have a set of magazine articles online to read or a pdf and dispense with the textbook altogether. It is very easy to do. It has cost me $109 per class, they were eight weeks long. I found them much easier to do than college classes and more useful. The software behind the class is http://moodle.org it is open source and free. The software is flexible enough where I think it could be used for about any kind of course.

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