Macmillan, one of the major college textbook publishers, just announced the launch of DynamicBooks, which will allow professors to customize textbooks.
Profs will be able to make major changes to textbook content:
Professors will be able to reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations.
While many publishers have offered customized print textbooks for years — allowing instructors to reorder chapters or insert third-party content from other publications or their own writing — DynamicBooks gives instructors the power to alter individual sentences and paragraphs without consulting the original authors or publisher.
Students will download the textbook and can read it on a laptop or desktop, on an iPhone, and likely eventually on the iPad. They can highlight passages, add notes, and search for specific terms. And, if they want, they can still by a bound version of the regular textbook.
The good news for students?
The DynamicBooks textbooks are far cheaper, perhaps half the price or less of the regular printed book.
The good news for profs?
The customization mentioned above.
The good news for Macmillan and college textbook publishers that adopt similar technology and practices?
This model will put a huge dent in the used textbook market and likely allow publishers to make more money.
The good news for textbook authors?
They could make more royalties.
The potential bad news for textbook authors?
Profs can change content, including passages about evolution and the history of the universe, for example.
Macmillan/DynamicBooks has 20 books available now and plans to have 100 textbooks available by early August, in time for the fall semester/quarter. Many of the titles come from Macmillan imprint Bedford, Freeman, and Worth.
How do you think DynamicBooks will affect how professors teach and students learn? If you are a prof, would you consider using DynamicBooks or something similar?