AcademicPub launched “Off The Shelf,” a new component of its Custom College Plus course pack publishing solution that will help institutions maximize the value of their existing licensing arrangements with journals, databases, and other content providers.
The AcademicPub platform helps higher-ed instructors and staff compile copyright-cleared content from a variety of sources, including peer-reviewed journals, web articles, an instructor’s own notes and lectures, and pre-cleared content from the AcademicPub Content Library. The platform then formats and packages that content as an ebook or prepares it for print-on-demand.
Instructors “can upload anything [they] want, … pull anything off the web, all of which is integrated into our platform for copyright clearance,” Caroline Vanderlip, CEO of AcademicPub parent SharedBook, told LJ. “They can also select content in granular form from [the AcademicPub Content Library] of 240 publishers that we’ve contracted with.”
The new Off The Shelf feature determines whether a university’s library has course pack rights for journals and databases that it already owns or licenses. This can help lower the total price of the course pack for students.
Vanderlip added, “one of the reasons we developed this is because we found that more and more librarians were being asked by their university to get involved with the selection and recommendation of content that might be appropriate,” she said. “Universities are looking at their library resources and saying two things. Number one: [our] librarians are very knowledgeable, and their role is, to a large extent, curation and identification of content. Why aren’t we using them to help professors create alternatives [to textbooks]? And number two: since we’ve already negotiated and continue to negotiate publisher relationships, why shouldn’t we incorporate those deliberations in the pricing that’s reflected in this curated content?”
Content pricing is set by publishers, and instructors can view costs related to each content selection, such as individual book chapters, copyrighted images, or journal articles, as well as a running total for the complete course pack. AcademicPub also charges a flat platform fee for each course pack.
“We have had 500 page books made by professors with all of their own content where the total cost to the student is $6.95, which is our platform fee. On the other end of the spectrum, we had an education book made by a professor out of a Canadian university that used $200 worth of content over 60 pieces. That would seem expensive, but for that professor, it was actually a $60 savings compared with what their students used to pay,” Vanderlip said.
The Off the Shelf feature is similar to that offered by SIPX, a recently launched venture which also allowed library’s institutional holdings to impact course pack pricing.