The Future of Digital Textbooks

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Technology is driving change in education as it is in publishing. Distance education has become more common in higher education; universities are putting podcasts, texts, and entire courses online. The spiraling cost of textbooks is rendering higher education unaffordable to many students, particularly in community colleges, where textbook costs often exceed tuition. In the K-12 market, digital textbooks have been making inroads into the classroom; a California initiative aims to replace many high school science and math texts with free, “open source” digital versions, while the new Democratic Leadership Council has proposed a “Kindle in Every Backpack.” While some may think of a digital textbook merely an electronic image of a paper product, others have employed the electronic format in broadening the spectrum of learning. This session examines the emerging future of digital textbooks, including open access; subscriptions; texts bundled with online study resources; innovative texts that include multimedia, simulation models, automated assessments; and business models that will allow publishers to survive and thrive in the future.

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John Warren

RAND Corporation

John W. Warren is Director of Marketing, Publications, at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institute that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. John has nearly two decades of experience in the publishing industry, with special focus on marketing and digital publishing. Previously, John managed marketing efforts for Mexican publisher Fondo de Cultura Económica, Sage Publications, and Sylvan Learning, Inc., and has provided consulting services to firms seeking to expand business in Mexico and South America. He has presented at major publishing conferences in the United States and internationally. He has a Masters in International Management from the Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) at the University of California, San Diego. John is the winner of the Common Ground International Award for Excellence in the area of the Book.

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Eric Frank

Flat World Knowledge

Eric Frank co-founded Flat World Knowledge with fellow textbook industry veteran Jeff Shelstad in 2007, and in this time has helped build Flat World to become one of the leading providers of open source textbooks to higher education markets. Eric brings an 11-year track record of success in higher education publishing. He has held positions in sales, editorial, and marketing at Thomson (now Cengage) and Prentice Hall, a division of Pearson Education. Prior to Flat World, Eric served as Director of Marketing for Prentice Hall Business Publishing, a division with annual sales in the hundreds of millions. There, he managed a team of marketing managers and marketing communications staff, and had overall responsibility for strategy, budget, staffing and execution. Eric’s group had dotted line responsibility for training and supporting over 160 sales representatives.

Photo of Frank Lyman

Frank Lyman


Frank Lyman has a strong track record leading change within the higher education publishing industry. He is currently Executive Vice President of CourseSmart LLC, helping the company to jump-start the market for eTextbooks by establishing a standard format and user experience and building a comprehensive library of content. Frank has previously held marketing, technology development, and general management positions at John Wiley & Sons Inc. and John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. As Wiley’s Vice President for Technology Development, Frank was instrumental in the development and success of Wiley’s eGrade and eGradePlus products, precursors to Wiley’s well-respected WileyPLUS platform now used by millions of students worldwide. Frank also has experience outside of the higher education industry as the VP of Marketing of, an email marketing startup company that went public in 2000 and as an Assistant Brand Manager at Procter & Gamble. Frank began his publishing career with sales, marketing and editorial roles at Prentice Hall and John Wiley & Sons. He holds an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia and a BA from Dickinson College.

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Nicholas Smith

Agile Mind

Nicholas Smith has more than 20 years of experience in education and instructional technology. He currently serves as Vice President of Technology Product Development for Cengage Learning. Prior to its acquisition by Cengage Learning in 2007, Nicholas was president of Aplia Inc., a leading provider of online homework for use in institutions of higher education. Before joining Aplia in November 2001, Nicholas was responsible for managing the development and production of online learning materials for Pensare, Inc., a web-based professional training and development company. Prior to Pensare, he held a number of consulting and management positions at SRI Consulting. Nicholas also provided independent consulting services to the Oxford-Princeton-Stanford-Yale Alliance for Distance Learning. Nicholas also spent 10 years as an educator. He was instrumental in founding the middle school at Keys School in Palo Alto, California, now one of the Bay Area’s leading independent middle schools. Nicholas holds a master’s degree from Brandeis University.

Photo of Neeru Khosla

Neeru Khosla

CK12 Foundation

Neeru Khosla is currently the Co-Founder and Executive Director of CK-12 Foundation, a non-profit organization, which aims to reduce the cost of textbook materials for the K-12 market both in the US and worldwide. Mrs. Khosla currently serves as a member on several advisory boards, including The Nueva School’s Board of Trustees, the Board of Directors for High Tech High School’s Graduate School of Education, the Advisory Board for the Wikimedia Foundation, the Advisory Board for DonorsChoose, the Advisory Board for Stanford University’s School of Education, and is one of the founding members of the K-12 Initiative of the Design School (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design) at Stanford University. Mrs. Khosla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Delhi University/San Jose State University, a Master’s of Science degree in Molecular Biology from San Jose State University, and a Master’s of Education degree in from Stanford University.

  • Ingram Content Group
  • Qualcomm
  • Copia
  • Impelsys Inc.
  • Innodata Isogen, Inc.
  • Adobe
  • Aptara
  • Baker & Taylor
  • Bowker
  • codeMantra
  • Connotate
  • Google
  • HP
  • LibreDigital
  • MagMe
  • Malloy
  • Mark Logic
  • oXygen XML Editor
  • Chuckwalla
  • Foxit Software
  • Jacquette Consulting
  • Jouve North America
  • Lulu
  • Marvell
  • Media Services Group
  • PubServ
  • Safari Books Online
  • Silverchair
  • Virtusales
  • Vitrium Systems
  • Smashwords, Inc.

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