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Coursesmart Signs Deals with 9 More Textbook Publishers

The digital textbook distributor Coursesmart announced today that it had expanded its supply of digital textbooks and course materials by signing a deal with 9 publishing partners: OUP (for both the US and Canadian markets), W.W. Norton, ATP, BarCharts, ASM Press, Paradigm Publishing, Vista Higher Learning, and University Readers.

“Our new publishing relationships will enable us to continue expanding our footprint and further solidify our position as the world’s largest provider of digital course materials. The additional titles and content to our higher education catalog will allow more students and faculty to enjoy the benefits of our digital course materials, including anytime, anywhere access, cost savings and efficiencies, device agnostic applications and other digital benefits inherent in our offerings,” said Sean Devine, chief executive officer at CourseSmart. “We will continue to engage with other higher education-focused publishing houses to ensure we meet the growing demand for eTextbooks and other digital course materials.”

These new deals will expand CourseSmart’s catalog  to over 20 thousand titles and more than 90% of the core college textbooks, and all of these textbooks can be read in most web browsers as well as in iOS and Android apps. It also brings the count of CourseSmart’s publishing partners to 31, including a few of the larger textbook publishers like Pearson, Wiley, Cengage Learning, and McGraw-Hill Education.

image by Earlham College

Indiana University picks Courseload as its Digital Textbook Supplier

Indiana University announced this week that it has chosen a new digital textbook platform. As part of its eTexts initiative, it has signed a deal with Courseload, an Indianapolis based company, to support IU’s digital textbook initiatives.

The university has also signed deals with textbook publishers for volume purchases of digital textbooks. Students on all IU campuses will be able to order digital textbooks from Wiley, Norton, and Flat World Knowledge and then read those textbooks using Courseload.

“IU’s model ensures that students will benefit from the cost savings and educational possibilities of eTexts and other online materials as their preferences shift to a blend of digital and print,” IU Vice President for Information Technology and Kelley School of Business professor Brad Wheeler said, adding that this agreement gives IU faculty new options for lower-cost, high-quality course materials.

While this new program will save students money, there is also a catch. The eTexts model utilizes a mandatory fee to obtain its substantial price advantages. If a given class uses a textbook offered by one of the participating publishers, the university will compel the students to participate. Also, the students may not actually be getting a discount here (compared to used and rental textbook prices), but that is a matter for another post.

New Report now Out: California Universities & Digital Content

I’ve just come across a report from earlier this year on the California State University System and its efforts to launch a state wide digital textbook system. This was a year end report and it’s a little out of date now, but it doesn’t appear that anyone has covered it just yet.

2010 was marked by a vast number of eReader and digital textbook pilot programs, and California had one of the larger ones: the Digital Marketplace. This is a state wide program that California has been working towards for several years now. The key eveny in 2010 was a 5 campus, 3 thousand student pilot program that California planned to expand to include all state universities.

The primary goals of the DM are to move the CSUS towards digital content while reducing cost and waste and  making it easier to for students and professors to find content. It’s not clear from the report whether the pilot program achieved these goals, but then again this was a pilot.  One goal that the pilot did achieve was saving students money; the report mentions that by switching to subscription based content, students collectively save saved $330,000.

You can find the complete report here. It’s 8 pages long and well worth a read.

Pearson Signs New Deal With Private Canadian School Network

The Eminata Group announced Tuesday that it had inked a deal for Pearson Education to provide a complete iPad based digital textbook solution.

Beginninng this fall, students at 3 Eminata Group campuses, CDI College, Vancouver Career College and Reeves College, will be able to get all of their course content via Pearson’s iPad app.These 3 campuses will be expanding their current pilot programs to include all students. Over the next 3 years, all programs  at all of the 38 Eminata Group campuses will be converted to digital textbooks to meet the diverse needs of students inside and outside the classroom. Hundreds of Pearson textbooks will be available through the eText for iPad platform, Pearson’s premier electronic book technology.

“We are committed to increasing access to flexible, affordable learning opportunities with programs and services proven to improve student achievement and retention,” said Don Kilburn, CEO of Pearson Learning Solutions. “Our collaboration with the Eminata Group leverages the iPad’s ability to provide students with a more interactive learning experience, so they realize their full academic potential and move into rewarding, successful careers.”

Yale School of Medicine Now Giving iPad 2 to Students

Book bags at the Yale School of Medicine got a little bit lighter this semester. In the coming weeks, the school plans to give each student an iPad 2. The program is about half done, and when complete it should add up to about 520 iPads.

Starting this semester, students will be able to download all support materials for their entire curriculum. It’s also going to be coming with some custom apps, because students willl also be able to read and handle confidential patient health information and that requires HIPAA certification that can’t be found in most apps.

The costs of the program provide a telling detail into whether its worth the expense. The new hardware is going to cost around $600 thousand, and the school spent about $100 thousand each year to copy, collate, organize, and distribute course materials.

Of course, money isn’t the only reason to switch to iPads. Students in the pilot program that was run last year were pleased with the reams and reams of class notes that they no longer had to carry around. “We get binder upon binder of notes, literally several feet of notes, and carrying them to the library or to class is just unrealistic,” Robert Stretch said.


image by bgolub


Kno Adds 3D Content, Embedded Videos to its Textbook App

The digital textbook developer Kno had just added support for a couple clever new interactive features to the robust line-up of over 60 interactive features such as highlighting, note-taking, bookmarking, Quiz Me, and Journal features currently available in its iOS app.

You can see the first feature in the video embedded above. Students will now have the option of clicking on almost any image (such as a molecule in a chemistry textbook) and the app will convert that image into a 3D model. This is going to help them learn by showing all the ways to view a complex object, not just the one 2D view.

The other new feature is one that digital textbooks have needed for the longest time now. The Kno app now has a new menu that you can view inside each textbook. In that menu you’ll find a list of instructional videos that are related to the topics in the book. The videos aren’t embedded in the textbook; they’re on Youtube and that means you’ll need a live web connection in order to view them. Right now, Kno is only linking to videos from the Khan Academy, a non-profit institution that licenses all its content under Creative Commons. Kno plans to add more sources of videos in the future.

Chegg Now Offers Digital Textbook Rentals

The 4-year-old textbook rental giant has branched out into digital textbooks today with the launch of its newest service.

Chegg now offers you the chance to rent an HTML5 based digital textbook. The textbooks are browser based, and they work in most web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Chegg is promising the usual basic textbook features like notes, highlighting, search, copy, and print. But there’s also a downside; the textbooks require a live internet connection and (less importantly) you can only have them running in 1 browser at a time.

Chegg has already signed up a number of publishers, including Macmillan, McGraw-Hill, Cengage Learning, Elsevier, McFarland, Oxford University Press, Rowman & Littlefield, Taylor & Francis, Wiley, and Pearson. The selection is still limited to only a fraction of the total print titles as Chegg  ramps up support for the new servic, and that’s expected to change by the end of the year.

Chegg via TechCrunch

Inkling Raises $17 Million in new Funding

Inkling, a developer of interactive iPad textbooks, raised $17,000,000 in Series B funding today. The financing was led by Tenaya Capital and including Jafco Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and one of Inkling’s primary customers: Pearson Education.

The company is based in San Fransisco, where it has 60 employees who have worked to produce the 30 titles Inkling has released since it launched in late 2009. It hasn’t disclosed how many students now use its app, but Inkling CEO Matt MacInnis did  mention that that Inkling now has 10 times as many titles as it did a year ago, and that he expects to see another 10-fold increase by next year.

Read more

PaperC Picked up a New Investor

The digital textbook retailer PaperC has recently announced that it has secured new financing from Axel Schmiegelow, a venture capitalist. The exact terms offered and the actual size of the investment were not disclosed by the company. There was alo no mention of how the funds would be used.

PaperC has a rather unusual digital textbook platform because it doesn’t sell textbooks in the same manner as other companies. To be exact, it doesn’t only sell complete textbooks. Instead, PaperC sells the textbooks by the page or chapter, with each page costing about 10 cents.

The textbooks are free to read online, but if you need a copy then you have to pay. This is a type of business model that is similar to the way some reference libraries have been charging for content, only PaperC has expanded the idea beyond reference titles to include more than 14 thousand textbooks from quite a few publishers.


image by tempoincerchio

Amazon UK now Offering Textbook Trade-in

Amazon UK has just added textbooks to its trade-in program.

Customers can now the website and trade-in either video games or textbooks and receive an Amazon gift card in exchange. The program covers 22 thousand textbook titles published in the UK, and it offers free shipping for everything sent in.

“Textbooks are amongst the bestselling titles on but many people only use them for a set period of time,” said John Gahagan, director of books at Ltd. “Now, with the Trade-In Programme, customers have a great way to exchange unwanted items and save money on future purchases.”


image by calaggie