Combating the Higher-Ed Used Book Market
Barrier: The above model requires a lengthy administrative sales effort. Once administrators sign on for this type of program, professors must still opt in and students must then enroll in the course, accepting the automatic fees. This results in a forcibly unnatural digital adoption and slow scaling process.
2. Digital textbook sales through traditional retailers
Any content provider has a natural inclination to "be where the eyeballs are." This is no different in higher education publishing, although the nature of what those eyeballs seek presents a serious challenge. The used book market has been established as the de facto choice for students seeking the cheapest options to acquire textbooks. Students rush to sites such as Chegg.com and Amazon.com with a clearly defined mission of finding one thing: the lowest price for their book. The logic of following the eyeballs makes a case that these destinations are where strong sales of all products are to be made, given that such a high volume of prospective customers visit them.
Barrier: Students today hold a strong preference for physical formats and a desire for the cheapest price. Digital alternatives present a mental switching effort for a student who has become accustomed to studying with physical materials. Therefore, a format shift to digital requires strong incentivizing. Herein lies the problem with online used book retailers as it relates to digital adoption: when the price of an e-textbook is presented in an online catalogue, it is directly (and often drastically) undercut on price. The student customers are thus strongly price incentivized to stick with the physical format they are accustomed to.
3. Educate professors for course redesign
Major learning companies are swiftly evolving their core value proposition towards educational software, in many cases referred to as courseware. The most highly touted aspect of this innovation lies in adaptive learning technology, which presents the potential for real improvements to overall education as students are empowered to learn at a personalized pace. Being non-transferable software products, they also present an economic salvation for learning companies from the secondary market. Implementing these new software-enhanced learning behaviors requires heavy professor adoption. To accomplish this, "course redesign" is necessary -- a process by which professors are taught how to implement new products for use in class.