“Students don’t buy a copy of the book—they buy lifetime access. The plan is for the textbook to serve not only as a reference for the class but as a pointer to further knowledge. Instead of publishing revised editions, Savkar’s team will keep the book up to date.” — A New Chapter for E-Books
Imagine never having to buy a textbook or a Harry Potter book again. The initial privilege might cost you $49 but if it gave you access to all new Harry Potter writings or, say, all biological scientific advances would you do it?
I don’t claim to have the answer but I’m of the opinion that the future of classroom textbooks must inevitably move in this direction.
In fields such as the biological sciences or genomics where knowledge is increasing exponentially, printed textbooks are obsolete before they are even printed. The solution is to make publishing platforms that seamlessly grow with the fields.
Some might say that this is what websites already do today but the book of the future will be on a portable platform and melded with artificial intelligence algorithms that understand the owner’s individual learning style, and it will then present the information in a format that can best be understood by the owner. The book of the future will also understand their owner’s need to know new information (for example, the owner might be a doctor) and it will make sure that that person is aware of new information and insights as they become available.
If textbook publishers can’t unlearn their old ways and embrace this new future I fear they will be relegated to dusty bookshelves of history.