June 21, 2010
The Loose-Leaf Alternative Course Book
Posted by Lisa Fairfax

Last week I received a LexisNexis mailing on loose-leaf course books, a program that offers certain textbooks in a loose-leaf format for students.  According to the the mailing, the pilot program was so successful that LexisNexis has now expanded their list of titles available for the 2010-2011 academic year.  Explaining the success of the program, LexisNexis list these advantages:

  • 40% discount compared to the hardbound version
  • the ability to leave the heavy textbook behind and carry only the pages needed for class or study
  • the ability to easily integrate notes and other materials within the loose-leaf book
  • wide margins that facilitate easy note taking
  • same pagination as the hardbound book

There were at least eight corporate/business titles listed as being offered in this loose-leaf version.  The loose-leaf books sound interesting.  I am not sure how such books impact authors, but lowered costs for students certainly seems like a good idea.  Then too, after watching students lug around what appears to be carry-on like bags full of their books, I can understand how students would be happy with the ability to leave their various textbooks home and carry only the pages they needed. 

Moreover, I think it is interesting to think about whether and to what extent the course book format will change.  Indeed, although there were predictions that the electronic textbook would soon supplant print books, such a change has yet to materialize.  Thus, as this article points out, while e-textbooks are the norm in the world of online for-profit education, not only is such use rare in the nonprofit sector, but also data suggest that, as a general matter, such institutions do not view increasing e-textbook use as a key priority.  Interestingly, one limited survey suggest that even at for-profit schools where e-textbook use is widespread, if cost were not a factor, some 42% of students would strongly prefer the print text.  From this perspective, the loose-leaf course book may be a good alternative for many students and faculty.

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