eLearning Courses, The Saviors Of The Academic Textbook

eLearning Courses, The Saviors Of The Academic Textbook
Summary: Traditional book sales have dropped globally in the last half-decade. This is no longer some technology guru’s forecast, but a true and proven fact in the international publishing industry. The number of books sold has steadily dropped in recent years, decreasing by almost a third in countries deeply damaged by the economic crisis, like Spain or Italy, and hence the number of books printed has gradually been reduced. This trend includes trade, educational, and STM (Science, Technical and Medical) publications, the latter two being the most affected. A drop in sales reveals the need for a change in the business model so that the academic publishing industry can remain profitable. Enter eLearning courses.

How eLearning Courses Save The Academic Textbook 

While professors and students stay stuck in the old debate over whether reading from a screen can be as effective as from a traditional handbook, publishing houses have long been aware that the solution to this crisis goes beyond a mere matter of moving from paper to digital forms. In fact, despite the commonly held view that digital books would cause the collapse of their more traditional counterparts, eBooks represent today less than 5% of the whole industry. Similarly, newspapers have already shown that it is not enough to deliver the same content in a new format, like a PDF copy of a daily paper, because digital users demand more interactivity. To succeed, it is crucial to adapt the original content to an updated and far more personalized interactive product that maximizes the potential of digital media. Fortunately for publishing companies, the game is not over, as the expenditure in online learning or eLearning courses is booming and can therefore become the ideal rescue.

eLearning  courses within corporations, public administrations, and the informal training sector reportedly produced more than $55m in revenue in 2013, doubling its share of the academic market in less than three years, and the growth is set to continue. While academic textbooks fall behind, the demand for online courses continues to grow across a wide variety of subjects, from programming to languages or entrepreneurship. Funnily enough, most of –if not all– the knowledge fuelling new eLearning courses has been taken from common textbooks, where it was first compiled. So this new scenario should be a vital opportunity for publishing houses and not an obstacle.

When traditional book sales first dipped, back in 2008, it was probably too early to identify which direction customers were moving in. Now it is thought that all those millions of dollars that the print industry has lost have gone to the eLearning market. Up to now this new market has mainly been occupied by training schools, but this monopoly will end as soon as publishing houses, focused on printing academic textbooks, realize the enormous potential they have and readjust to new trends. Indeed, not only do they own highly valuable contacts and bibliographic archives, but they also have the most experience in content creating content.

The best way of recovering their market leadership is not by abandoning the paper form or curbing the release of new titles, but making the most of each new book by also creating eLearning courses – for which people are willing to pay much more money. Whilst a print book costs about $25, reduced to $15 in the eBook version, the price can reach $300 if it is adapted into a comprehensive eLearning course including specific training aims, interactive exercises with corresponding assessments, follow-ups, and an official certificate when completed. Nonetheless, eBooks and paper books remain a key complement to the eLearning courses, not to deprive students of the feeling of underlining, highlighting, and annotating through the more theoretical lessons.

Moreover, the eLearning format is completely flexible. Publishers can combine a range of multimedia content, by various authors from different branches and in different languages, and design a catalog of personalized courses and learning itineraries to suit all requirements. If they do it professionally and with the appropriate support, they could go from a current limited number of yearly publications, to a much higher and ever expandable number of custom eLearning courses. A satisfied customer –whether an individual or a company– is always likely to take new courses to broaden or update their knowledge, as well as publicize those that are most effective.