The idea that students could still be over-paying for course materials all over the country really burns Brad Wheeler, the vice president for IT and CIO of Indiana University. A big part of the problem, he believes, is that it’s taken a long time for textbook publishers to own up to the “fundamental flaw” of their industry: “They are obsessed with counting their gross margins on the things they actually do sell.” And, he added, they ignore the enormous amounts they lose through the other 75 percent of the market made up of used and rented books and other kinds of substitutes. Because of those blinders, the publishers have “long pursued a model that has been failing, year over year.”
Wheeler has arguably been one of the loudest voices telling textbook companies to change their ways. In 2009, his university began piloting an e-textbook program that eventually pollinated to numerous institutions and started a movement that led to the founding of an organization dedicated to helping schools reclaim ownership of their decisions and data.
Image courtesy of Indiana University