The role of textbooks in a rapidly digitizing world is an open question. The publishing industry needs to develop a new paradigm for commercially produced instructional materials or it faces extinction.
- Will they be replaced by digital learning packs of atomized content?
- Will Professors self-publish whatever materials they need?
- Will piracy destroy the textbook market?
- Are static textbooks even relevant any more when information is exploding at an exponential rate?
These and many more questions haunt the dreams of educational publishing professionals.
Now, thanks to the folks at Nature (a division of MacMillan) and their new eTextbook Principles of Biology, I glimpse a promising path forward. As is so often the case with paradigm shifts once it “clicks” in your head it is so simple that you wonder that you didn’t get it earlier.