Not everyone has been hit hard, but the latest numbers have got many people rattled. What’s causing the decline, which has picked up speed in the last couple of months? It’s not just the economy. Is it textbook piracy? The used-book market? The misuse of course-management software, which profs sometimes use to download chapters to give to their students? I talked to some university-press folks to find out more.
N.B. Before you start blaming high textbook prices, please note that we’re not talking about those back-breakers that commercial publishers inflict on students for hundreds of dollars. “Textbooks,” in this case, means monographs adopted as course reading–and monographs are the lifeblood of university presses.