Will The Kindle Kill The Textbook?
For reasons I won't go into here, I have become aware of the price of college textbooks after ignoring them for decades. Youch those things are expensive!
Now I understand that the problem is the (relatively) small press runs. (It sure isn't outrageous payments to the authors.) So this is why I'm wondering if there isn't a better way to do this.
The Kindle (or something like it) would seem like a natural way to distribute textbooks. The setup would be about the same as the pre-press setup, but the distribution would be almost free compared to the printing charges. So by distributing the texts electronically, the publisher could raise the fee to the author, drop the price and still have fatter margins. It would also deal with the problem of having inventory that became almost worthless when an updated version was published.
The downside to this is that reading on a screen is still harder on the eyes than black ink on white paper. It would also disadvantage very poor people who could not afford the Kindle. (Athough given the way that laptops have dropped in price this may not be a problem much longer.) You'd also need some reasonable DRM so that if your kindle got dropped in the bathtub you could still get all your books back without having to re-buy them.
I doubt it will be the Kindle itself that superceeds the textbook, but the Kindle's great grandchild just might do it.
Chris - no position in Amazon, but I got to play with a first gen Kindle