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SURVEY: Should Ad-Supported Textbooks Become Standard?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

College stadiums, classrooms, and cafeterias are plastered with ads by corporations, why not textbooks?

By Edward Nawotka

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Every year college students complain about the high cost of textbooks. They feel its an insult to have to spend several hundred, if not thousands of dollars, on textbooks after already writing a check for ten or twenty thousand dollars for their education (this is in the United States, of course, where the cost of year at a private university can run you $50,000, including room and board).

Increasingly, students are looking for alternatives to paying for books, whether it’s renting them or even downloading them for free from companies such as Flat World Knowledge. One solution may be to place ads inside textbooks. Bookboon, the Danish e-publisher discussed in today’s feature story, has attracted a variety of advertisers for brands that want to reach out to students, either as consumers or potential future employees. He believes the practice is valid, because as he sees it, students¬†“are getting high quality textbooks for free because we are getting their future employers to pay for it.”

And, after all, if college stadiums, classrooms, cafeterias and all other manner of amenities are branded and/or plastered with ads by corporations, what’s the objection to allowing advertising into textbooks?

So, as tuition prices continue to skyrocket, and publishers seek alternatives to offer students relief, should the ad-supported textbooks become standard?

Take our survey above and let us know what you think of the practice in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

Edward Nawotka is the Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. A former foreign correspondent, he has covered the book business exclusively since 2000, serving as daily news editor for Publishers Weekly and columnist for Bloomberg News.