How the Higher Education textbook industry adds value A guideline for lecturers, academics, faculty members, policy makers, education activists, funders and others in the Higher Education arena
Publishers and booksellers are a key cog in the value chain to help deliver tertiary education. • In a changing and digital age, there are many options available to educators who seek to enable post-school students with knowledge & skills. • We believe that publishers & booksellers are a vital part of this education process, & and will remain so. • This presentation provides greater insight into the value added and the role played by publishers & booksellers in the education chain.
What do we mean when we say, ‘Textbooks are an educational tool for students’? Textbooks ensure that a certain standard of learning is guaranteed as there is a rigorous publishing process in place – for students and academics. For students: • Textbooks are written according to curricula in this country, by Southern African academics. Where required, they are supported by textbooks sourced internationally. • They include appropriate learning support, language levels, and opportunities to practice skills. • Students – particularly those entering higher education from schools which gave unsatisfactory education – need support with literacy and study skills. • Textbooks also provide students with appropriate perspectives and ways of thinking. They assist students to understand local and global perspectives. For academics: • The guaranteed standard of textbooks also helps academics to ensure that they are teaching at the right standard or level.
How exactly do textbooks add value for lecturers and academics? • They support lecturers by ensuring that the content, data, reference material and applications are at the right level/standard. • They create revenue for academics. In 2011 **, Academic authors earned R57m in royalties. • They create capacity for academicsto research and consult instead of preparing lectures and creating related materials themselves. ** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
Let’s talk more about textbooks. Surely it’s really easy. Anyone can write and publish a textbook! Yes, but what about quality & appropriateness? Textbook publishers don’t regurgitate unedited manuscripts: • They do research. • They commission books to be written. • They ensure the books are peer reviewed. • They ensure the books match local requirements • They distribute the books. In 2011, 248 new books and new editions of Academic, Professional and Scholarly books were published for the first time **. ** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
But what about Open Education Resources (OERs)? What are OERs? • OERs are teaching, learning & research resources. • They reside in the public domain, or have been released under an IP licence that permits their free use or repurposing by others. • OERs include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, or any other tools, materials or techniques used to support access to knowledge The Hewlett Foundation (www.hewlett.org)
Our stance on OERs • We believe there are excellent OERs that can be used at a post-grad level and are often a source of material for research purposes. • There is a place for OERs / OA materials as a platform for research to be made available for debate and discussion – no doubt, the ideas and content will eventually end up in textbook after a thorough process! • They may well serve as aids to a lecturer or student in addition to mediated content and pedagogy in the form of a textbook.
The potential downside of OERs • They aren’t really free to all – OER materials aren’t free to produce. • The curriculum content is not ringfenced, nor is it guaranteed to be updated. • Despite some high-quality publishing, many OERs have not been quality assured – or proven to be fit for purpose. • Given the wide range of OER materials available, an uninformed individual is often not able to differentiate between what is considered good versus what is considered poor material. • In SA, we have the added challenge that not all students have easy access to the web.
Textbook publishers create value for SA students, lecturers and academics • Textbook publishers contribute to the delivery of education in the tertiary education sector, by publishing & selling local textbooks and distributing suitable imported textbooks & educational resources in SA. • They serve as a key conduit to getting suitably vetted material published and made available to students. • They provide the necessary support to lecturers and academics as part of the education value chain.
Apart from the learning materials, what other value do publishers add? Employment • The textbook industry is a contributor to employmentin South Africa. Like education, it is a pillar of the National Development Plan. • The annual turnover in 2011 from locally published textbooks was R489.5m **. • Academic publishers employed 513 people on a permanent basis in 2011 **. • They also create employment for South Africans in the freelance editorial sector, and by extension, in the printing and bookshop sectors. ** Publishers’ Association of South Africa Annual Book Publishing Industry Survey Report 2011
What role do Academic booksellers play in the value chain? • Set up retail outlets in convenient locations for students and lecturers. • Aggregatesupply from various publishers. • Provide the capital outlay to finance stock. • Collate and analyse booklists from institutions to check which books are prescribed, student numbers, & ensure sufficient stock is always available. • Facilitate the importation of the correct titles (freight & customs). • Distributestock between stores &from warehouses to stores to make books readily available throughout the country. • Interactwith academics about textbook changes & student feedback. • Give publishers feedback from students, to improve the books. • Market specific products & titles. • Provide ancillary services and products that students need for their education.
What value do booksellers add for students? • Provide students with easy access to textbooks through well-established, conveniently-located stores and on-line purchasing. • Provide professional advice and guidance to the students. • Finance debtor account sales, allowing students access to credit facilities so they can purchase their textbooks when needed. • Provide aftersales service and support • Makesupporting educational resources available eg. Dictionaries, reference works, stationery and digital tools, available in one location. • Maintain the information technology systems for administration of bursaries and student funding.
What other value do Academic booksellers add? • The textbook retail industry comprises 21 booksellers operating 94 bookstores in every province and servicing higher education students, lecturers and professionals. • The annual turnover in 2011 of South African academic booksellers is estimated at R753m ***. Note this is all books sold by academic booksellers. *** South African Booksellers Association Book retail Industry survey - 2011
Conclusion: • Textbooks – whether in print form or digital form – and written to support South African syllabi – are a valuable tool in the delivery of education to undergraduate students. • Booksellers facilitate access to education through stores on campus, & financing. • In a world of changing options, publishers & booksellers, the textbooks they create & distribute, are a vital part of the education chain in post-school Southern Africa.