College textbooks are a funny thing. Used in institutions where creative, critical thinking in a technologically structured world is taught, they are as old school as you can get. Besides being expensive, they are static and typically written for general audiences. Macmillan thinks it has the answer to the textbook problem: the DynamicBook , which allows authors to keep material current, instructors to keep material relevant, and students to keep a few more dollars in their pockets.
Due out in August, DynamicBooks are basically wiki-textbooks. Authors can access them at any time to make changes or updates, so the material remains current. Instructors can access the text to make editorial changes, both adding and deleting material, so the textbook more closely ties into the course syllabus. Students get electronic access, via computer or Apple’s iPhone (with plans for iPad availability). And the cost of DynamicBooks will be “much cheaper” than traditional textbooks. For example, Macmillan says a psychology textbook that sells for $134.29 would be available as a DynamicBook for $48.76.
Other student features include being able to highlight text, make notes, create bookmarks, and search content. Students would also be able to share their notes with others in a “dynamic study group”. (Pretty much what most e-Textbooks offer.)
Macmillan isn’t being altruistic here. It hopes that DynamicBooks will kill the used textbook market, which publishers blame for forcing them to increase the costs of their offerings. And, if pricing is low enough, Macmillan hopes to circumvent pirating.
Image Credit: Macmillan