What it is: Textbooks are a multi-million dollar industry, and it’s changing to adapt to rising prices.
One of the biggest scams has been the cost of textbooks. Publishers would typically publish a textbook and immediately revise the textbook as quickly as possible to avoid students selling their old textbooks to students who don’t want to pay full price. After all, once a textbook has been sold once by a publisher, they can’t make money off it no matter how many times it’s re-sold and used.
That’s why publishers constantly update their textbooks to make previous editions obsolete. That limits the used textbook market and insures that most students pay top dollar for information that’s largely identical to previous editions. While topics like marketing or computer science might change rapidly, other topics like math or physics do not.
That’s why the textbook industry is undergoing massive upheaval from rental textbooks to digital textbooks. Apple has been trying to promote ebooks as a way to provide quality information inexpensively.
In general, the book industry is dying, not because people are reading less but because people can access the same information in multiple ways. In the old days, people bought books because that was the best way to get information. Nowadays, people can get information through search engines crawling the Internet. Given the choice between using a book or a search engine, it’s obvious what most people prefer.
So the book industry is shrinking with the loss of retailers like Borders Books and the slow decline of Barnes & Noble. Retail book stores are in the business of selling paper, but search engines are in the business of providing information.
That’s the huge difference and that’s why paper books are fading. Many people still prefer paper books but a newer and younger generation are growing up without the familiarity of paper books, which means they’ll be more prone to accept ebooks and other forms of digital formats. That will simply spell a shrinking market for book publishers unless those publishers switch to the information business rather than the printed book business.
Watch the textbook industry to see where all books are heading. Textbooks are getting cheaper and easier to access and today’s printed books will have to follow this model to survive in the future.
Books are no longer the sole source of information anymore. Tomorrow, books will be supplemented with websites and digital files. The future of publishing is actually bright. It’s just the future of traditional print publishers that’s dimming every hour.