Exploring the University as an e-Textbook Provider of Scholarly Work

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Frank Rennie Keith Smyth Gareth Davies Scott Connor Laurence Patterson


Despite the growth in the popularity of e-textbooks, there has yet to be adopted an effective model through which an academic institution can easily re-purpose the scholarly output of its staff to allow global and affordable access to students. This paper describes a research project designed to explore effective processes for the university to become a digital publisher of its own academic output. The project produced two e-textbooks, focusing on using Amazon Kindle for distribution, each book with a free companion website of open access learning resources. The use of the e-texts and the websites were then monitored for evaluation. The publication process was documented and will be made publicly available in the final report on the JISC website. In summary, the pre-publication tasks are almost identical to the production of a conventional printed book, but at publication, everything else changes. The e-textbook system minimises the problems of storage, distribution, pricing, and updating which is faced by the printed book. The companion websites provide a global space with resources complementary to the e-book, which can be updated without the requirement to amend the e-textbook. Several different categories of e-books have been identified, from short handbooks for internal course use, through open-access textbooks, to flagship commercial publications. It is recognised that these e-publications may replace or co-exist with both printed books and companion websites.

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