Guru Roundup

Guru Roundup: Bringing You the Industry’s Need-to-Know News

This installment of the roundup contains some big news, so let’s start there and focus this post on business, corporate, and industry doings. I hope everyone has a safe and fun holiday weekend!The big news:

Publishers Weekly: Nebraska Book Co. Files for Chapter 11

“NBC Acquisition Corp., parent company of Nebraska Book Company, the country’s third largest operator of college bookstores as well as a major wholesaler of college texts, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Monday morning in what it says is part of a plan to recapitalize its debt. According to its filing, the December 31 maturity of a $200 million loan has raised concerns among some publishers about NBC’s ability to finance its back to school textbook and merchandise purchases, and the company was unable to reach a refinancing agreement with all of its lenders without filing for Chapter 11…” (more…)

Guru Roundup: Bringing You the Industry’s Need-to-Know News

Content and Publishing
 
PRLog: Allogy Interactive, McGraw Hill Launch UCF Digital Press to Provide Textbook Downloads
“Allogy Interactive, based in Orlando, recently entered into an exclusive agreement with textbook publisher McGraw Hill to create the UCF Digital Press, which will provide University of Central Florida students the opportunity to download their textbooks — complete with rich media, hyperlinks and coaching algorithms — directly to their favorite mobile device. Colin Forward, Communications Director for Allogy Interactive, said the agreement means student backpacks never have to get much heavier than a tablet computer…”
 
TechFlash Amazon Blog: E-sales to Imprints: Amazon’s Ambitious Publishing Plan
“In a series of public moves, Amazon.com has signaled its determination to enter the book publishing business, a move with broad implications for the online retailer as well as the traditional publishing industry. Seattle-based Amazon in recent weeks has rolled out two new book imprints, announced a roster of best-selling authors whose books will be published under those imprints, and hired a prominent publishing executive to set up an office in New York. The stakes are enormous…”

Guru Roundup: Bringing You the Industry’s Need-to-Know News

Mashable.com: The Case For Making Online Textbooks Open Source [INFOGRAPHIC]
“As companies compete to digitize the textbook market, there is one approach that shakes the traditional publishing business model: open source textbooks, whose proponents believe online educational tomes should be free. Many universities, including MIT and Carnegie Mellon, post course lectures online for free use. A New York Times article last year explained some of the barriers to applying the same approach to textbooks…” (more…)

Guru Roundup: Bringing You the Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Bookstores and Booksellers
PR Newswire: National Association of College Stores Statement Regarding Amazon.com’s Lawsuit
“Amazon.com Inc. filed a complaint for declaratory relief against the National Association of College Stores (NACS),Oberlin, OH, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. Its sole aim is to halt a proceeding filed by NACS with the New York-based National Advertising Division (NAD) of the Better Business Bureau in which the trade association seeks a review of Amazon’s college textbook pricing and advertising policies. By filing this lawsuit, Amazon has chosen to make public a proceeding that NACS filed on a confidential basis, as required by the NAD. NACS was not trying to achieve any type of public “win” with its filing, but to promote a level playing field by eliminating unsubstantiated advertising claims. NACS has not yet been served with the complaint, but will respond to it in due course…”
“The semester is coming down to the finish line and it’s about that time for students to sell back books for summer pocket money. For some students, it’s nice just to have that little extra money to finish off the semester, but selling back books is a borderline act of robbery. The Sociology Club looks at the processes of how the University of Rhode Island’s textbook policy has been problematic. Each semester, textbook prices continue to rise and students are forced into paying high costs in order to have the correct book for each course in time for the start of classes. The typical scapegoat for students is the Bookstore, but there are complex factors that play a role in why the textbook issue exists…”

Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech Talk: eBooks and Digital Readers 

Los Angeles Times Technology: E-book Sales Triple from a Year Ago, Now Top-Selling Book Format
 “E-book sales are piling up fast. In February, a couple of months after huge numbers of readers got electronic reading devices for the holidays, sales of e-books reached $90 million — more than tripling the number from a year earlier, according to the Assn. of American Publishers. Although that number was still smaller than sales for all paper formats combined, it outstripped any single print format — hardcover, trade paperback or mass market paperback…” 

Publishers Weekly: Kobo Gets $50 Million in New Financing
“E-book and e-reader retailer Kobo has received a financial shot in the arm with $50 million in new financing, including $13 million from its majority shareholder Indigo Books and Music, Canada’s largest book retailer. Kobo said the balance came from “leading institutional investors,” which it did not identify, and Cheung Kong Holdings, one of the original investors in Kobo when it was spun off from Indigo in late 2009. As a result of the new investments, Indigo’s ownership has decreased somewhat, but it maintains its controlling interest at 51%…” 

PRnewswire: CourseSmart Launches the First eTextbook Application for Android Devices
“CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, further expanded its mobile footprint today with the launch of CourseSmart for Android 1.0, a mobile application specifically designed for the Android Operating System (AOS). Students and faculty across the country can now access all of their eTextbooks on their AOS-enabled smart phones, netbooks and tablets. “Increasing demand for mobile access to eTextbooks coupled with the exponential growth of Android-run devices has led to record numbers of students and faculty embracing mobile devices across their institutions,” said Sean Devine,

CEO of CourseSmart…”

Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: Tablet Times
 
BusinessWire: Intel Capital Invests $20 Million in Kno
“Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment organization, today announced a $20 million investment in Kno Inc., an education software company. The investment is part of a $30 million Series-C round led by Intel Capital, which includes participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Advance Publications, First Round Capital, FLOODGATE and SV Angels. Kno will use the funding to develop its innovative educational software solutions for multiple platforms, including Intel® architecture. ‘The increasing consumption of digital content has primed the textbook market for disruption, creating an exciting opportunity for technology innovation to fundamentally change the way 1.4 billion students globally learn,’ said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president…” 

NPR: Cheaper Than A Tablet: ‘Rooting’ Your E-Reader
“What if you could buy a tablet with a slightly smaller screen than the iPad for half the price or even less? Hackers have been turning e-book readers into tablets for cheap Internet on the go. In fact, San Francisco hacker Mitch Altman doesn’t read e-books on his Kindle at all. He only uses its Web browser to access maps and restaurant listings when he’s traveling. The Amazon Kindle has 3G data connectivity so that readers can download e-books anywhere there is cell service. As many Kindle owners know, the device can connect to Google and Wikipedia to look up things mentioned in e-books, too. That connectivity is all the opportunity hackers need to turn an e-book reader into a tablet…” 

Bloomberg: Amazon.com to Sell Kindle Digital Reader With Ads for $114
“Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, unveiled a $114 version of its Kindle electronic-book reader that requires customers to view ads in exchange for getting the lower price. The new device, called Kindle With Special Offers, costs $25 less than the current lowest-priced model, the Seattle-based company said in a statement. It will be available May 3 at Best Buy Co. and Target Corp. stores, in addition to Amazon’s site. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is counting on the Kindle, unveiled in 2007 for $399, to capitalize on digital-book demand. With the new approach, he gains a bigger price advantage over rivals and opens an additional source of ad revenue…”

Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: eBooks and Apps 

TheBookseller.com: Continuum Launches eBook Store
“Independent publisher Continuum has launched an e-book store, featuring a selection of titles across Continuum’s humanities, education, and religion lists. Around 2,000 titles will be available for download in Adobe PDF and ePUB formats on the platform by the end of April, with that total expected to rise to 3,500 titles by June. The publisher plans to release the majority of its frontlist titles on the store simultaneously with print edition publication. The store is currently open to individual customers, with the publisher planning to offer packages aimed at academic institutions from the end of June…” 

PRnewswire: XanEdu Announces New Version of Industry-Leading iPad App for Higher Education
“XanEdu, the leading faculty-preferred provider of custom course materials and textbooks, announces the release of its new XanEdu iPad App version 1.5. Advanced collaboration features and search capabilities enable students to study smarter, save time, and improve team collaboration. The new version is available now for free download in the App Store…” 

PRnewswire: The Princeton Review Releases SAT® Score Quest™ App for iPad
“The Princeton Review, a national leader in education services and test preparation, today announced its SAT Score Quest App for iPad is now available on the App Store. SAT Score Quest is built upon The Princeton Review’s 30 years of expertise in preparing college-bound students for the SAT while leveraging the large, high-resolution display and Multi-Touch capabilities of iPad…”

Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: Focus on Digital Textbooks

  • Wall Street Journal Digits: McGraw-Hill, Pearson Invest in E-Textbooks “Colleges and universities that have been testing Apple’s iPad tablet in classrooms have said that the biggest hurdle to incorporating the devices more deeply into their curriculum is an insufficient selection of textbooks that go beyond just converting the print version into a digital format. San Francisco-based Inkling is changing that. The interactive textbook developer said that McGraw-Hill and Pearson, two of the world’s largest textbook publishers, made multimillion dollar minority investments in the company on Monday…”

 
Textbook Rentals and Rental Companies

  • VentureBeat: Chegg Moves Beyond Textbooks with Course Selection, Homework Help “Chegg is already leading the pack of textbook rental websites, and with new features unveiled today, it’s moving closer to chief executive Dan Rosensweig’s vision of reaching college students every day of the year. Specifically, the Santa Clara, Calif. startup is launching new features that allow students to select classes and ask for homework help on the Chegg site. These additions use the technology that Chegg acquired when it bought CourseRank and Cramster last year…”

Weekly Roundup March 9, 2011

Every week, The Textbook Guru will round up the top news stories of the week, from the important to the intriguing.

Kindle and Amazon Roundup:

1. Free Kindle This November from The Technium

 In October 2009 John Walkenbach noticed that the price of the Kindle was falling at a consistent rate, lowering almost on a schedule. By June 2010, the rate was so unwavering that he could easily forecast the date at which the Kindle would be free: November 2011 . . . “ 

2. Why Amazon Would Be Smart to Give Away the Kindle from CNN Tech

 “E-books are revolutionizing the publishing industry and reader preferences, and Amazon might be in a unique position to hasten that change — if they decide to start giving away their popular Kindle e-reader for free . . . “

3. Amazon Executive Explains Company’s Kindle Vision from SentinelSource.com

 “When Amazon.com Inc. launched its Kindle digital book business in 2007, little did many people realize that the company was really rewriting the book on the entire publishing industry . . . ” 

  (more…)

Press Roundup – March 1

Every week, The Textbook Guru will round up the top news stories of the week, from the important to the intriguing. To kick things off we will look at some top headlines from February.


1. NACS and BookRenter Introduce New Services to Help College Stores Become the Ultimate Source of Affordable Textbooks from PR Newswire

The National Association of College Stores (NACS), the leading resource and advocate for the higher education retail market, and BookRenter, the largest and fastest growing online textbook platform, today announced a strategic partnership designed to help college stores become the ultimate source of affordable textbooks. NACS, through its subsidiary NACSCORP, will begin offering three new BookRenter services to its 3,100 member stores, increasing the delivery speed and convenience of textbook rentals while driving foot traffic into stores and increasing customer loyalty.

2. BookRenter Secures $40 Million in Financing to Continue Rapid Platform Growth from PR Newswire

 BookRenter, the largest and fastest growing online textbook platform, today announced it received $40 million in Series C financing.

3. Flat World Knowledge Named to “2011 Hottest New York City Companies” List from Pressit

 Flat World joins Etsy, Tumblr, bit.ly and Foursquare on this year’s list of the fastest-growing technology and media companies in the New York City metropolitan area

  (more…)