|Risograph CZ-180 Tabletop, c.|
US$ 1500 - 2000
(Cf. comparable developments here, and a discussion on possible pitfalls here and here. The bottomline is, that such readers really need to be developed by tutors, and should not be little more than compilations of text books or published articles. Nor should such change from semester to semester, seemingly at whim. Of course, my own inclinations are that ebooks, with educational tablet PCs that give a comparable reading experience to paper, are the ultimate way to go. The first wave of such tablets should be coming out in the next year or two.)
To get an idea of what is happening internationally, we may clip The Daily Bruin's article "Questioning course readers":
Steven Hardinger, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, assigns a course reader and a lecture supplement as requirements for his Chemistry 14C course.
His course reader, called a Thinkbook, provides students with extra notes on the material that he has accumulated over the past 10 years as well as practice problems, while the lecture supplement contains printouts of lecture PowerPoint presentations.
Though Hardinger used to offer all this material online, he started using a reader after surveying one of his classes. He found the majority of students said they would be willing to pay for the convenience of having all the material bound into one book.
“I don’t think I’ve had any student in the past five years say they didn’t like it and that they’d rather have it online,” Hardinger said.
The Thinkbook and lecture supplement cost $40 and $42.75, respectively, at the UCLA textbook store. Many students opt to buy them rather than the $200 textbook because they are more useful, said Kimmie Wong, a fourth-year integrative biology and physiology student.
“I liked the Thinkbook a lot because it gave us a really good idea of the types of questions the professor would ask on exams,” Wong said. “For the most part, the textbook wasn’t that helpful, so I didn’t buy it.” . . .
Q: Why is that so?
A: US$200 for a college Chemistry textbook is stiff, but unfortunately, that is where conventional textbook prices are clearly headed: US$80 - 200. Such escalation is not sustainable in a world where the Amazon Kindle Fire just launched at US$199 [NOTE: probably a loss leader to lock in readers for the Kindle market of books etc.], where the OLPC-Marvell educational tablet has a target price point US$100 or less, and where ebooks may reasonably be distributed electronically for US$5 or 10 - 20. An economy keyboard and dock are probably going to come in at maybe US$ 40 - 60 in bulk.
So, we are back to a situation where the obvious choice is ebooks and readers, where some paper based printing is going to be necessary too. Hence, the significance of the Risograph type machine for informal institutional printing, for volumes where it is not cost-effective to use an ink-jet or laser type printer.
(As in, it's the cost of ink and that of toner that get you.)
Such publishers specialise in short runs, in theory down to one, and print to order and ship. They fill the niche between the sort of short run duplication above, and high run printers.
(NB: With certain POD publishers, it is possible to have your book automatically offered on Amazon. The critical problem, though, is to build readership and thus sales. Using the book in a course or seminar is a good start for such. But that book has to make the impression that it is a serious work, well worth the buying and a pleasure to read. That means that would-be authors have to learn how to write a salable book, and navigate the treacherous waters of the book marketing game. [Cf. here on and here for starters, and here for some inspiration. Bottomline: most of us can write something of book length. Writing something that is salable in enough quantity to be worth it, that is another story. That takes informed planning and disciplined effort.])
Such units, however, are quite expensive, US$ 140,000 is a recent quote.
(Two colour, free standing Risograph type units may go for over US$25,000. But, such may be a reasonable investment for one or two nodal colleges integrated with a regional educational network. Investing in a POD press is also probably worth considering.)
In this world of the near future, publishers will be paid for editorial and marketing services, not for speculating on how well books will do in the market, or for warehousing -- which can dominate actual production costs.
The rise of that world also means that we will have to beware next generation vanity presses that abuse POD technology to rake in money from aspiring writers, while not helping such would be authors develop readable, attractive, salable, well marketed works.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
But plainly, a revolution in publishing is dawning, and we need to surf the wave of change. Not least, so we will not be swamped by it.
Precisely what the AACCS initiative is about.
So, again: why not now, why not here, why not us? END