Western Sydney U’s textbook solution for digital delivery

The Copyright Agency wants changes to the way universities pay for what they reproduce, saying “the explosion of digital content has radically changed the way universities provide educational content to students,”  (CMM Tuesday).

Presumably including the way Western Sydney U provides first year students free digital copies of textbooks.  Last year and this WSU, gave first years at the university and its pathway college digital textbooks, good for the life of the relevant unit. The university says it will run the scheme again in 2019.

Access was originally arranged via content company ProQuest and WSU says, “with the average cost of a text book being $100 per book, our commencing students will receive up to $800 worth of value.” And no, WSU does not use students own money, from the amenities fee, to pay for it

This is very smart indeed.  Every university bangs-on about assisting students but WSU is actually doing something practical.

It is also a gust in a gale of change to come. Textbook cost was a third-order issue for Obama-Biden in the 2012 US presidential election and there all sorts of textbook access options there, not all entirely respectful of copyright conventions, (CMM September 3 2017).

The WSU deal has to be a model for publishers to pursue – it may not make them as much money as the princely profits of print, but it will be better than the pirates will pay.


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