Getting eBooks into the hands of the students

My reflections from a recent eBooks event and uncovering their potential.

black android smartphone beside black ceramic mug on brown wooden table

This week I attended an eBooks event at Plymouth University where Phil Gee talked about how he has been trying to get eBooks into the hands of the students. Phil sees the lecture as an opportunity for the lecturer to tell the students what direction they need to go in and when they leave they need to go away and read. Traditionally books had to be bought and were mostly selected based on price rather than content value, sad but true. The cheaper the book, the more likely students were to buy them.

Phil’s big idea was to talk to publishers and purchase a bundle deal for the whole first year teachings in a range of modules equipping the students with the core reading that they will need throughout the year. For this Phil had to build a new relationship with publishers. Previously students were the customer but now the school is customer. In theory this is an ideal situation as lecturers know what the students need and they can negotiate this for the best price.

To break it down Phil needed 12 texts covering all core lectures. The deal was for 4 years, 360 students for the first year and 320 in later years. The benefits for doing this were:

• Print cost would be £500+.
• Lecturer can now go into a lecture and KNOW the students have access to the texts, many would have it in front of them.
• Level playing field (widening participation)

The students were surveyed and 86 responded generally liked the idea. Not all liked eBooks because they are reading them computers which doesn’t give a pleasant reading experience, and if you’re reading long periods of time I do agree with this. Overall they thought they read more with eBooks. One surprising stat was that 52% of students bought the paper copies of at least one book, if the students had to initially pay for the eBooks I would expect for this figure to decrease.