Customized self-publishing is the future of textbooks

John Conley on where the textbook sector is headed.

This post is part of the TOC podcast series. You can also subscribe to the free TOC podcast through iTunes.

The textbook publishing market is ripe for reinvention. Everyone complains about the high prices and low resale values. The conversion to digital should change all that, right? In this interview, I talk with John Conley, vice president of publishing and commercial print at Xerox. Conley has worked extensively in the textbook sector and shares his thoughts on where we are today and what’s likely to change in the future.

Key points from the full video interview (below) include:

  • Textbooks taking on less of a role in higher-ed — They may not completely disappear but textbooks will lose their spot as the primary teaching element in many courses. [Discussed at the 3:04 mark.]
  • The K-12 shift will take longer — Budgets, regulatory issues, etc., mean the transition from print to digital won’t happen anytime soon. [Discussed at 3:30.]
  • “Customized self-publishing” is the future — It’s all about instructors having access to a large repository of content that they can build their own custom solutions around. [Discussed at 4:43.]
  • Is $14.99 the e-textbook price of the future? — Apple took a page out of Amazon’s playbook by introducing the first wave of iBooks Author-created textbooks at $14.99. Even the initial $9.99 price for most Kindle titles has crept up, thanks to the agency model, and $14.99 isn’t likely to become the standard e-textbook price. [Discussed at 8:12.]
  • Native app vs. HTML5 or EPUB 3 — It’s not so much about the platform architecture as it is about the content and how cost-effective that platform is. [Discussed at 17:10.]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.


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