The Object Formerly Known As The Textbook


Textbook publishers state that their newest digital products shouldn’t even be called “textbooks.”

They’re really software programs built to deliver a mix of text, videos, and homework assignments.

One publisher calls its products “personalized learning experiences,” another “courseware,” and one insists on using its own brand name, “MindTap.”

For now, this new product could be called “the object formerly known as the textbook.”

Major publishers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the past few years buying up software companies and building new digital divisions, betting that the future will bring an expanded role for publishers in higher education.

Only about 2 percent of textbooks sold at college bookstores are fully digital titles.

Jean Wisuri, director of distance education at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College says, “It’s not a textbook, it is an entire course.”

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