I should have known that someone outside of the industry would be so keen as to have picked up on the topic with the proper angle and hit the nail so perfectly dead centre on the head.
It's not surprising, though. I only recently finished reading Seth Godin's book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers. It was highly recommended to all participants at a recent CCRA meeting I was at in Montreal. Not only was the book a compelling and quick read and chock full of fantastic information, but in it Godin also made predictions about Amazon that are coming true. (Let me put this into perspective -- this book, which was first published in 1999, is now in it's 24th printing and still in hardcover, which, I imagine, suggests just HOW many copies are still selling today) In the book Godin suggests some strategies that Amazon would be likely to adopt -- lo and behold, they're coming true. Nuff said about that. Get out there and read Godin's book. Me, I'm about to pick up and read through as many of his other books as I can.
But back to Godin's rant. Looking at marketing textbooks, he found a frustrating list of problems with the existing textbook market. Like the folks in CRAM (Canadian Roundtable on Academic Materials) *, he realizes that the current model is broken and needs to be looked at seriously.
If you're in Canada and somehow invested in the textbook industry (be it as student, bookstore, faculty member, librarian or publisher), please do check out CRAM to see how you can be involved in helping make a difference in the industry. If you're not in Canada, you still still go check it out and take advantage of the resources listed because all of these principles are universal and likely apply in your own country.
* CRAM is a group of students and bookstores working together with as many industry partners as possible (faculty, libraries and publishers) to try to find new solutions to this existing broken model. Their nine principles are listed below:
- Academic materials must be a high quality and offer reasonable value to students.
- Academic Community Members are the ultimate decision makers for selecting academic materials.
- Academic Community Members should consider the cost for students when selecting course materials, and should explore and utilize the most cost-effective forms of delivery.
- Publishers and other supply chain providers should, where feasible, utilize the most cost-effective technologies for delivering academic materials.
- Strive for a clear balance in copyright legislation between owner and user rights that promotes the sharing of ideas.
- Encourage academic community members to fully and clearly understand the legal implications of copyright-related agreements, so that Fair Dealing can be fully exercised at the campus level.
- The academic materials delivery processes at each participating school should incorporate joint Bookstore, Student, Academic Community Members and Library committees that foster communication, promote enhanced relationships, and facilitate the sharing of ideas and concerns.
- Establish monitoring and feedback mechanisms in order to measure and enhance the quality, affordability, and accessibility of academic materials.
- Advance the cost-effectiveness and affordability of academic materials through the development of:
- Advocacy strategies and tools that can be utilized at the campus level to promote enhanced awareness of the problems and the solutions.
- Advocacy strategies and plans at the national level that focus on presenting a concerted and unified position in relation to matters concerning academic materials.
- Communication with other national entities in the sphere of post-secondary education, including but not limited to the Association of Universities & Colleges of Canada (AUCC), the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) and Campus Stores Canada (CSC).