It may not happen today, or tomorrow, but the coming textbook wars will be massive, if quietly so. Why? The world of educational publishing is enormous; it is much bigger than you might imagine. It dwarfs, for example, the feeble trade publishing market. At the turn of the last decade, Pearson’s educational arm alone brought in more revenue than all other publishers, with the exception of education-driven Reed Elsevier. That’s just the arm that produces textbooks and other educational material. Frankly, when we talk about publishing as a whole, what we say makes little sense unless we’re talking about textbooks and educational publishing.
Enter Amazon. It announced this week that it will launch a new arm of its Kindle Direct Publishing service, one that will “help educators and authors easily prepare, publish, and promote eTextbooks and other educational content for students to access on a broad range of devices.”
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Amazon and Apple’s sought-after “democratization” of textbook production could alter education irrevocably in the coming years. And these developments may affect academic publishing more rapidly, as it’s an industry whose strengths are also its market weaknesses. The peer review process that lends academic publishing much of its prestige also requires slow, painstaking analysis. Add to this the brute fact that many university presses are run primarily to mitigate losses: this means they pay little to authors and sometimes fail to keep up with developments in a given field. You can see the appeal, in theory, of Amazon’s DIY platform.
Link to the rest at Flavorwire