From Books To iPads

Posted on 6/17/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

What happens when the iPad becomes the primary vehicle for delivering educational information? Here are some things to think about.

– Students will carry iPads to school instead of books. All the educational information they need for various classes will either be on their iPads, or on the Internet.

2 – K thru 12 school systems will use their book budgets to purchase iPads and electronic whiteboard. That will mean that they have less money to purchase the educational information that will be accessed through these devices. The school systems will be demanding that the information used on these devices be less expensive.

3 - At colleges and universities where students are required to purchase their own book they will either need an iPad or a personal computer to access the educational information they need.

4 – School systems will demand, not just cheaper information, but a greater variety of information including student access to image databases for reports and research, videos, and extensive lesson plans.

5 – Traditional book publishers will demand that creators make their work available at lower rates. They still have staff and overhead to support, as well as the servicing of their debt. The only place to cut costs and keep everyone else employed is through the acquisition of content.

6 – Lower prices for content will force some contributors out of the market and probably reduce the quality of the available material.

7 – The information component of a textbook – author’s contribution, pictures and illustrations – constitutes at most 10% of the cost of books and for some high volume products a lot less. Reducing that 10% to $0.00 is still not enough to keep school systems from looking for cheaper sources of information.

8 - If the information school systems and individual students need cost one-tenth or even one-fifth of what they are pay now that would be a very attractive option for school administrators, particularly if they were also offered greater choice. At 10% the same amount of money would be going to authors and photographers as is the case now, although it might be spread differently. Today’s top selling contributors may find that they are earning less if they don’t adapt quickly.

– Granted, there will be costs for the computer based storage and delivery systems but the costs of designing, building and maintaining such systems are declining rapidly and are probably much less than 10% of the current revenue generated by the textbook industry.

10 – The choice for creators is whether they allow existing publishing firms to continue to control the market and their futures or build a new creator controlled system from scratch. Publishers will siphon off a large percentage of revenue for management and their investors, and work to pay off old debt. They will contribute very little to develop the new technology.
An Analogy

An interesting analogy is the microstock business. It was founded because old line companies were charging customers much more than they felt they could afford to pay. So customers joined together and developed a system that made images available at much lower prices than the industry leaders were asking.

The old line companies couldn’t compete on price given the overhead costs that were built into their systems. Much of those costs were related not to actual operational costs, but to servicing debt and meeting expectations of capital investors.   

The new microstock companies were able to institute features that customers and suppliers wanted, but old line companies were unwilling to provide. This included making it easier for a much more diverse group of new suppliers to participate than was possible under the old system. Many contributors who were unheard of and unheralded in the old system became microstock stars.

The microstock companies had a major advantage because they weren’t committed to old, established business practices. They weren’t trying to support and sustain an old business model while developing something new that met a new need.

Within 7 years the microstock segment of the business had a significant hold on the total market. Within 10 years of the founding of the first microstock company (2001) gross revenue generated by microstock sales (even at much lower unit prices) will be greater than images licensed as either RM or RF and close to being more than both combined.

Given the state of technology, the delivery of educational information has a chance to be even more dramatic, and in less time, than was the case in the stock photo industry. All that is needed is for some creators to step out, take the lead, and take the risk.

Copyright © 2011 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to:  


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