Strategically Speaking: Is Digital Printing 'Ready for Prime Time'?
2. E-book proliferation. In addition to the trade market, there is a brisk and potentially larger opportunity for e-books in the college and professional publishing markets. The college space is particularly ripe for expansion as digital textbooks offer the answer to many prayers—a viable way for publishers to combat the clear and present danger of used books, the burgeoning textbook rental market and as a counter to the criticisms of the cost of college texts.
3. Shrinking library budgets. With states facing FY 2011 budget deficits of about $190 billion, publicly funded library spending is certain to be hard hit. Library budgets at institutions of higher education are equally likely to feel the pain as operating budgets are cut and endowments deliver returns well below historical levels. This can only mean fewer dollars for acquisitions.
4. Patron-driven acquisition. In an era of uncertain funding levels, many libraries are turning to a new business model: patron-driven acquisition (PDA).
PDA is a response to circulation statistics that suggest that many of the books acquired by libraries never leave the stacks. It postpones the decision to purchase a book until a demand has been identified by one of the library's clients. Automatic purchases under approval plans are rapidly becoming a fond memory. Sales that could be counted on in years gone by now become a matter of speculation, which does not make for reliable inventory forecasts.
5. Distance learning. Distance learning has become part of the fabric of the American education system. The business model for these programs frequently includes tuition and textbooks bundled into a single fee to the student. Many of these institutions have replaced some or all of their printed texts with digital versions.
6. Textbook rental. While textbook rental is a relatively recent development, it is clearly spurring interest in the college sector, and can only mean fewer copies coming off the presses.