Making Textbooks Less Expensive and More Relevant
Right around the time major news outlets were reporting on student protests regarding tuition hikes, a new kind of textbook publisher was letting scholars know that it had heard their cries for lower textbook costs. Less expensive, customized, relevant books now are available, announced DynamicBooks, a subsidiary of Macmillan Publishing.
The Feb. 22 announcement of DynamicBooks' formation indicated that not only could students buy cheaper textbooks in whichever channel they preferred, but that the content could be updated almost in real time. For instance, the chemical element Copernicium, which was named in February, already is included in DynamicBooks' textbooks. Previously, the process of including chemical element 112 in textbooks may have taken years.
Clancy Marshall, general manager of DynamicBooks, spoke with Book Business Extra about the launch.
Book Business Extra: What goals do you have for DynamicBooks?
Clancy Marshall: Our goal for DynamicBooks is to create a platform that can bring together students, instructors and authors, and do a better job of meeting the needs of all three groups. For instructors, we're bringing them greater flexibility in rearranging content for their courses. And we're offering the instructors complete customization ability, so they can actually go in and edit and rewrite any section of the text to make it completely current and relevant for their students.
There are other e-book platforms that enable instructors to highlight or annotate the textbooks. The difference with DynamicBooks is that the instructors can actually go in and rewrite sections or create questions. They can write questions into the textbook, and they can bring their Dynamic Book into class with them. They can access it on a mobile device or on their laptop. As they're talking about an issue in class, they can explain the material to students. And then they can actually correct the explanation in the textbook to make it exactly match up with what they've told students in class. ... It's not instant, but it is within 24 hours. So if an instructor is making changes in the classroom, by the time the student goes home to study … they will be able to access those changes. ... I think that it makes the textbook a vehicle for instructors and students to communicate, which is not how textbooks have been used in the past.