“Green” Textbooks

There is a buzz on campus about e-books as texts, not only are they generally 40% cheaper than traditional textbooks (“only” $70 or $80), but they are also “green”, “sustainable”, and presumably lower carbon footprint…

Unfortunately, the story does not seem quite as upbeat to me. As implemented by the major textbook companies, e-books are green in the sense that they squeeze more green ($$) from our students. By eliminating used books, the companies rid themselves of competition and actually achieve a higher average book price with lower costs! (I guess we can still celebrate putting some printers and tree farmers out of work…)

However there is disruptive change afoot from new companies, offering a new business model. I use a sales textbook from Flat World Knowledge. They post a free copy online for any students who want to use it for free,  a $29 e-book or a $35 cheap B/W paperback. This is change we can believe in – change that will likely put the textbook dinosaurs out of business…

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