DISRUPTING BOOKSTORES? Gripes about outrageously-priced textbooks are nothing new. But, as we covered a few issues back with Washington's Open Course Library, it may soon be coming to an end. There's been a rental market for print, as Chegg has aptly tapped. And then there's digital, where you find everything from upstart publishers like Inkling and Kno to Coursesmart, a partnership of the big boys, including Pearson, and McGraw-Hill.
All this has Audrey Watters wondering how these new acquisition channels integrate with existing distribution systems, and especially the future of the college bookstore. John Lindo, who runs one at Penn State University, bluntly declared "the beginning of the end" in the NYTimes last week. No doubt that digital textbooks can be a wrecking ball for that traditional behemoth of an industry--just look at the mass consumer market. Frank Catalano sees the advent of the sub-$100 e-reader as the death knell of the mass market paperback, a claim supported by Amazon's triumphant rebel yell earlier this year when its e-books outsold its print books. The road ahead promises headaches for publishers and cautious sighs of relief for students, who may no longer have to snap photos of overpriced books in the campus library.