Podcast: Law professors start digital press as alternative to costly textbooks
March 18, 2009
With a full-time course load, law school students will spend approximately $1,000 a year on reading materials alone for their classes. According to a 2006 General Accounting Office study of the rising cost of textbooks requested by Congressional representatives, textbook prices rose by 186 percent between 1986 and 2006. They attributed this increase to textbook publisher’s increased reliance on marketing and an increase in production costs.
Recognizing that traditional printing and marketing methods for hard-cover books was largely to blame for the hefty price tag, Lewis & Clark Law Professors Lydia Pallas Loren and Joe Miller launched Semaphore Press, a publishing company that offers digital downloads of academic textbooks. The digital files are in a pdf format with no digital rights management restrictions on activities like file sharing. In addition to being used by Professors Loren and Miller at Lewis & Clark and the University of Georgia, law faculty from Loyola Law School and McGeorge University have been early adopters of Semaphore Press digital text books.
Loren and Miller are passing along the low-overhead savings to students and authors. Students would typically pay about $140 for an intellectual property textbook that they can download from Semaphore Press for a suggested $30 fee. The author of that down loadable textbook will earn 50 percent of the download price.
In this podcast interview, Loren talks about her work as an intellectual property expert and explains how using the model made famous by Radiohead offers a win-win situation for everyone.
*First-year student Ethan Allred produced this podcast.