July 15, 2010
ORLANDO — In a series of moves that could give a boost to an e-textbook industry that has been treading water for years, Blackboard announced Wednesday that it is partnering with a major publisher and two major e-textbook vendors to make it easy for professors and students to assign and access e-textbooks and other digital materials directly through its popular learning-management system.
The company, which controlled about 60 percent of the learning-management market as of last year, said it is partnering with McGraw-Hill, a top academic publisher, as well as Follett Higher Education Group and Barnes & Noble, two major distributors that operate a combined 1,500 college bookstores in the United States and Canada.
The McGraw-Hill partnership will allow instructors to search the McGraw-Hill catalog for relevant course materials, then assign them to their students, without ever leaving Blackboard. Students can then purchase and access the assigned materials, also through the Blackboard portal, via the Follett and Barnes & Noble online bookstores.[snip].
The company would not comment on whether it is negotiating similar deals with publishers other than McGraw-Hill. But the other big-time e-textbook providers have been making moves of their own. [snip]
The convenience of learning-management system integration could give the digital textbooks a bump, says Eric Weil, managing director of the Student Monitor. “It certainly can’t hurt, and I think it will have a positive impact,” Weil says, adding that along with the buzz about e-readers galvanized by Apple’s iPad, this fall could be a breakout semester for e-textbooks.