Contained in a blog post about the publishing industry is this eye-opening paragraph about what seems to be a possible paradigm shift in the textbook industry (one can only hope):
So lets take a deep breath and go back a step. The article on earning a million was sent to me by my daughter as a follow-up to both of us quoting the performance of the web service www.teacherspayteachers.com. Here US teachers deposit their learning plans and receive royalties on their re-use. Deanna Jump, a kindergarten teacher from Georgia, has become the first teacher to earn a million dollars in royalties. The site has had 50 million page views in the last 30 days and teachers post over 800 resources a day. The site has a rival (not mentioned in the article) in the shape of the UK periodical Times Educational Supplement, which has adopted this business model and teamed up with the leading US teachers union in a jv, while exploiting a global market from London. As advertising retreats the TES has executed a wonderful transition: not migrating so much as re-inventing itself in close alignment to what its readers needed to be better teachers. Indeed, in some ways this is re-inventing the textbook as much as the magazine, but whatever it is the outcome is the same: understanding how users work and supplying (in this case user-generated) content in the right context and with the right interface is the new publishing.
Check out the "About" page for TeachersPayingTeachers and behold some pretty incredible numbers:
TpT by the Numbers
40,000+ Free Resources
1,100,000+ Registered Users
50,000,000+ Page Views/Month
$10,000,000+ Teacher Earnings
This kind of thing has been a long time coming. It's been baffling how the textbook companies have been able to keep a stranglehold on the school systems even as technology has reduced the cost of self-publishing and enabled peer-to-peer sharing. It will be interesting to see how this service plays out politically – it's hard to imagine school systems allowing teachers to take wholesale control of their curricula, or the textbook industry to go down without a huge fight – but in these days of austerity there might be a chance for some cost saving innovations like this to take hold.
Again, we can only hope.