The final push – what are we planning in the final year of the Institution as e-textbook publisher project?

This blog post was written by Graham Stone, Senior Research Manager, Jisc

The Institution as e-textbook publisher project started its journey in 2014 and will wrap up in the next 12 months. In that time the partner institutions have published seven textbooks, we have published a number of articles and the teams have presented at numerous events including the last project workshop in Birmingham last July.

As you can imagine, we’ll be ramping up the blog posts and communications this year as the projects move towards the completion of the project. We have an existing list of posts planned, starting with the first of what we hope will be many communications around the evaluation of the textbooks with academics, students and the authors themselves. We will also be looking at issues and opportunities around the dissemination of institutionally created textbooks and how to get them into the library supply chain. Marketing, including social media campaigns will also be featured in future blogs. Expect further blogs around the technology used and information on competitor analysis and benchmarking.

Later in the year, our partner institutions will talk about what they plan to do after the project finishes – they assure us they will all be carrying on with e-textbook publishing and some plan to scale things up considerably. They’ll share their lessons learned along the way and we’ll be hearing more from some of the authors on their motivations for taking part.

We are also very pleased to announce that we will release a toolkit to assist other institutions in starting the own e-textbook publishing. We hope to hold a workshop in the New Year to test the toolkit as a proof of concept with the community, before launching it in July 2018 as a major output of the project – alongside the textbooks of course. More news on that very soon.

Finally, we’ll let the projects tell you some of their own plans over the coming months…

UCL: ‘We are in the dissemination and evaluation stage of the project. As we have now released both textbooks, the next year will be spent collecting data and user feedback. We’ll be running focus groups and undertaking surveys to evaluate the success of our e-textbooks. We’ll also be looking into wider external course adoption of the textbooks and how to compete with commercial alternatives.’

University of Liverpool: ‘In the final year of this project, the team at the University of Liverpool plans to upload the outstanding chapters for Using Primary Sources and continue to promote the e-textbook internally as well as nationally and internationally. We will also evaluate the impact of the e-textbook and make decisive plans on how to take it forward. With regard to Essentials of Financial Management, we are still planning to publish the e-textbook within the next year, which would be a crucial text for nearly 1,000 students at the University of Liverpool. However, the content has not yet been delivered by the author so plans are currently provisional. If the content is delivered in the next few weeks, then we will edit, upload, publish the e-textbook, review internally, and disseminate in an Open Access capacity. If the manuscript is not delivered soon or the e-textbook is not published by the end of the year, then we will assess what we could have done differently and write up our lessons learned.‘

UHI/ Edinburgh Napier: ‘eTIPS, the UHI/Edinburgh Napier collaborated project, which saw the creation of two eTextbooks will focus, on its final year, on a number of issues. In the next phase, colleagues will look at student and academics reaction, in our Universities, to the publications and performing comparative analysis with similar texts. Further analysis will be put into describing and annotating the process of creation, authoring, publication and distribution, with particular interest in the efficacy of Kindle Direct Publishing for reaching to readers beyond our institutions. UHI will look to continue some form of e-textbook publishing beyond the end of the project and, to that end, a group will streamline the approach already taken. UHI will, in particular, be looking at the support system for resources and documentation required to be set up to continue publishing.‘

University of Nottingham: ‘As the ROMe project moves into the final stages it is important to refocus efforts on the final tasks to ensure that all benefits of the project and the effort put in by the many people that have supported the project can be realised and recognised. This means that between now and the summer of 2018 we will increasing the amount of communications to external audiences to promote the e-textbooks and also identify any opportunities there might be for the e-textbooks to be used by other HE and FE institutions. We will analyse and publish second and third year student usage and evaluation data; we will contribute regularly to the Jisc project blog so others can learn from our successes and our mistakes; and we will work closely with the other project partners to help design and deliver a toolkit in support of other institutions that wish to move into a self-publication model.’

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