January 30, 2012
RIP pCasebooks, 1871 - 2021: 150 years is a long run but the time is ripe for a change
"From entrenched businesses, such as Wolters Kluwer, to a nonprofit, like the Center for Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction, there is agreement that physical textbooks and particularly traditional case books will, sooner or later, become educational relics alongside fountain pens and manual typewriters," writes Evan Koblentz in Apple, Publishers, Open-Source Dictate Law School Textbook Evolution (Legal Technology News, Jan. 25, 2012).
When? CALI Executive Director John Mayer thinks it will take about a decade.
"Certainly the print side of the business is going to be on the decline, but it's going to take a decade. Paper has served us well for a century. It doesn't go away overnight," Mayer continued. "The casebook is dead. It's time to break the thing up into small, repurposeable materials," he noted.
Damn right, John. Of course, that's not why TR Legal is trying to sell off its law school publishing division now, right?
Book format, whether print, online, or e-book, isn't a factor in our decision.
Quoting from an email by TR Legal's General Manager for Law School Publishing, Chris Parton, sent to Law Technology News.
One can view TR Legal putting its traditional law school publishing division on the auction block as a logical continuation that started with selling off BAR/BRI to Leeds Equity Partners in April 2011. "Let's just get the hell out of this entire legal education market!" Good luck with the attempt to sell the law school publishing division. When TRI couldn't get the $$$ it wanted for Health, the Company took down the For Sale sign. Will history repeat itself?
Of course, one can also view the asset divestiture as a means to a new end, namely, inventing a 21st century legal education product line, one that "grow[s] from its core of subscription-based research and reference products, workflow solutions, software and services" by way of very, very, very tight integration. (Yes, quoting text from TR Legal's "we're gonna bail on you, law profs" notice out of context.) It could become the new normal for law student indoctrination.
Hell if I know but I seriously doubt law school students will be carrying all that many law pBooks to class in 10 years. By "all that many," I am not just referring to pCasebooks. See the comments by Kristine Clerkin, General Manager and VP, Legal Education, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, at Apple, Publishers, Open-Source Dictate Law School Textbook Evolution.
Whoa ... wait a minute ... what's stopping TRI CEO Jim Smith from launching Eagan Law School Online, "a trusted legal education from Thomson Reuters"? (Think law profs earning $25 per hour). On that scary note, let's close this post with another quote from CALI Executive Director John Mayer published in the Legal Technology News article:
Our premise is that if it's educational, you've got to give people the freedom to repurpose the material for educational goals. If anytime you have to ask yourself, "Does this make us money," then you're not really serving educational goals.
John, you pinko, you commie ... ! [JH]
I could say that the quote was taken out of context, but that is exactly what I said and I meant it.... and if we're into ad hominy here ... kiss my grits! (get it? hominy/hominem/grits .. I guess if I had to explain it, it wasn't that funny). The gauntlet has been cast, this will not go unresponded to.
Posted by: John Mayer | Jan 30, 2012 6:32:12 PM