Monday, July 11, 2011
They've been a surprisingly hard sell as publishers learn even digital natives prefer print when it comes to serious reading. From Inside Higher Ed:
Can academic presses harness the recent popularity of textbook rentals to steer customers toward e-books?
A number of presses are hoping so. At a time when many customers are making decisions with one hand on their wallets, academic presses are looking to stoke interest in their electronic versions by offering digital rentals for a reduced price.
For example, instead of buying a paperback or e-book for $20 at the Stanford University Press website, students and scholars can pay $5 to access an e-book for 14 days, or $10 for 60 days.
“The humanities and social science communities … have been relatively slow to adopt e-books,” wrote Alan Harvey, deputy editor of the Stanford press, in an e-mail. “This program is our way of aiding the transition; offering very cost-effective and efficient ways for scholars and students to access our content.”
Stanford is not alone. Academic presses at several other universities are running similar rental programs, including the presses at the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio University.
. . . .While the writing on the wall says digital texts and e-readers are the future, the numbers on the balance sheet say most students and scholars are not choosing digital over print — at least not when it comes to serious reading. E-book sales have risen for a number of university presses in the last six months, but as a percentage of total business they remain in the low- to mid- single digits at most presses.
“Though some presses might reasonably think that this undercuts sales of print or full-priced e-books, we're really trying to incentivize sales in an area where we've lacked success,” says James A. McCoy, director of the University of Iowa Press.
You can read the rest here.