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Higher Education

Rice University Is Closing Its Digital Press


Rice University is closing its digital university press publishing in September.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports: “The move ends a high-profile experiment in digital university-press publishing. Closed once before, in 1996, the press was reborn in 2006 as an all-digital operation. But it had proven too expensive to sustain even in its new form, according to a statement by Eugene Levy, a Rice professor of astrophysics who stepped down as the university’s provost in June. As provost, Levy authorized the money for the press’s rebirth four years ago.”

Levy said in a statement that the hope was that the digital press would sustain itself on revenues from print-on-demand books, but book sales remained slow.

The Chronicle piece continued: “The Rice press relied on Connexions, the university’s online, open-source environment for creating and publishing scholarly content, as its e-publishing platform. Levy’s statement indicated that Rice books are likely to remain available through Connexions.”

Promotion on Mediabistro’s eBook Course Until 8/27


Want to learn how to self-publish an eBook? Mediabistro has a 6 session class that address this topic beginning this fall. And for the next week and a half, Mediabistro’s fall classes have a special promotion running. If you sign up for a multi-week course by August 27th, you will receive a free self-paced course worth $179.

The course is being taught by GalleyCat Editor Jason Boog and Publishers Weekly book blogger (former eBookNewser Editor) Craig Morgan Teicher, Here is a brief description of the “How to Self-Publish Your eBook: 6-Session Self-Paced Course” course:

“This six-session self-paced course is designed to equip you with the industry and technological savvy you’ll need to stand out in a crowded marketplace. The assignments are highly practical how-tos that show you, from start to finish, how to produce and distribute your eBook. After tackling all six, you’ll be armed with:

* Comprehensive knowledge of the tech platforms, distribution outlets, and media companies that are currently making waves in the eBook world
* An array of tips for prepping your content for the digital marketplace
* Start-to-finish methods for turning your manuscript into a full-fledged eBook
* A guide to choosing a POD (Print On Demand) option that works for you and your book
* Help with formulating a sales and distribution platform
* Marketing and promotional strategies to help you build an audience”

There is also a course on Nonfiction Book Writing taught by author and former editor Ashley Shelby. For more information on fall courses, follow this link.

CourseSmart Revamps Site, Gives Away iPads


Students going back to school have a lot of eBook options this year. Barnes & Noble launched it NOOKstudy platform earlier this month and now eTextbook distributor CourseSmart is upping its digital ante. The e-commerce company has a new website specifically designed to help students better search and access eTextbooks, as well as some other digital updates.

CourseSmart is also optimizing its titles for the iPad and just released “eTextbooks for the iPad 2.0,” an application that takes advantage of the iPad’s functionality. To promote this new app, CourseSmart is giving away an iPad every day during the back-to-school season. The “CourseSmart’s iPad-a-Day Giveaway,” contest runs from August 17th to August 30th, and is open to students in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada. You can find more details here.

And no student life would be complete without a social media account. is also introducing Facebook Connect as part of the new site and launching a new social media program to help students connect around their course materials digitally.

eReaders Fail in College


Amazon is going to be mad at its undergrad, the Kindle DX, which didn’t do so well in studies conducted at several colleges, including Princeton and the University of Virginia. Participating students at these universities were given Kindle DXs and asked to rate the device as a study tool.

According to an article in USA Today, the biggest problems that students had with the Kindle is difficulty highlighting and making notes. If you’ve ever tried to type anything on Kindle’s pokey keypad, you understand why.

Here’s a rather condemning excerpt from the article: “Because it was difficult to take notes on the Kindle, because PDF documents could not be annotated or highlighted at all, and because it was hard to look at more than one document at once, the Kindle was occasionally a tool that was counter-productive to scholarship,” said folks at Princeton.

The next big question is whether iPad will be any different. What do you think?