Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reference Tree > Our Take On Inspection Copies

29th May 2012

The Reference Tree retail service started in November 2010 has been steadily growing over the past 18 months mainly in the UK.

We have extended our service with the introduction of RTInspect, our inspection copy service, which we put live last week.


What is the problem with existing inspection copy services?

Our research found that due to the extrinsic value of physical textbooks there is a wide variety of controls deployed by Publishers to verify Lecturers’ identities. [snip]

Of course, with digital inspection services the risks of resale are less, but the greater issue is with impersonation and individuals who are not teaching or even non-academic staff passing themselves off as Lecturers. [snip].

For third party controlled digital inspection copy services, the main concern raised was devolving control and access under the policies of the third party, rather than their own. [snip].

The unit cost advantages over physical inspection copies outweighed some of the control issues, however in cases of abuse, the perceived advantage reduced materially,as it pushed the lack of control into sharp relief.

The fun is just beginning…


In many cases, the Publisher is left without the crucial feedback that would support further refinements of the title and inform whether it is pitched at the correct level. There are a myriad of ways in which Publishers request feedback, some have reps that follow up, others require accounts to be created on their websites, card inserts to be completed or emails to be sent. [snip].

So, how is RTInspect different?

By speaking with small, mid-size and large academic publishers we gained an insight into the processes, touch points as well as the best and worst bit of existing services.

We hope that throughout the process of building RTInspect we have eliminated or at least minimised the bad and improved upon the good.

Our focus in designing and building RTInspect is to provide a consistent experience for Lecturers, no matter which Publisher’s books they are reviewing, and to enable Publishers to have as much or as little control as they want over their inspection copies that they make available to Lecturers. [snip].

Features to make life easier

Publishers determine how long the inspection copy is available for, whether there should be limits on the number of inspection copies available for each lecturer, how automated their approvals should be and can give Lecturers trusted status to enable auto approvals in the future.

For Lecturers, our aim is to provide the most consistent and fast process possible, including single requests for confirmation, ability to provide feedback post expiration of inspection access and clear visibility on the costs and reading experience their students will have using Reference Tree.

Through providing inspection copy services, we are aiming to make inspection copy angst on the part of Publishers and Lecturers a thing of the past. [snip].

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