Following on my initial post about Aspen’s new policy that would require students to return their books at the end of the semester, that has been a serious outrage. It got picked up by the ABA Journal, Slashdot, TechDirt, Volokh/WaPo/Orin, Deven Desai, James Grimmelman, Rebecca Tushnet, and many, many others. It even spawned a Change.org petition by James that has garnered north of 300 professors.
Now, less than two days later, it seems that Aspen has changed course with a new policy. In short, students can choose to buy the textbook the old-fashioned way, and keep it. Or they can choose to buy the digital version and the paper version, and send the book back. I think this latter option is unwise, and should be abandoned altogether, but I appreciate that Aspen has changed their policy. I will declare a partial victory, and withdraw my petition.
I’m sure some will remain outraged, but I’m okay with this.
Here is the full policy:
I am writing to share some exciting news about upcoming developments at Aspen. We continually search for ways to improve the quality, effectiveness, and value of our educational solutions for law faculty and students. As part of this mission, I am delighted to announce theConnected Casebook pilot program, developed in response to extensive research with hundreds of faculty and students nationwide. As part of the program, we are piloting 11 casebooks this year to be available through two alternatives: the Connected Casebook option, and the traditional option.
Students will have a choice as to which of these two options to purchase.
1) Through the traditional option, students can purchase any of the 11 titles as individual print casebooks, as they have in the past.
2) Through the Connected Casebook option, instead of purchasing only a print casebook, students can now receive:
- A print casebook for the duration of the class term (to be returned by students at the conclusion of the term), and
- Access to our new CasebookConnect digital platform. Through this platform students will have:
- A fully functional ebook version of the casebook, with note taking and highlighting capabilities, to which students will retain access after the class term has concluded
- A digital study companion to the casebook, giving students opportunities to better understand difficult concepts and conduct self-assessments
- An outlining tool that allows students to efficiently develop outlines based on their reading of the casebook
While we are very excited about the Connected Casebook program, and believe that this option provides greater value for students, the choice of which option to purchase remains entirely with each student.
You will be hearing more about the program, including materials to help you understand how the CasebookConnect website will work, in the coming weeks. Any faculty, administrators or institutions who want to understand more about the Connected Casebook program should please contact [email protected], and we will be happy to speak in more detail with you about the initiative.
While we are confident that the Connected Casebook pilot program will provide strong educational value to students, we will continually improve the initiative after launch. To this end, we are eager to hear post-launch feedback from faculty and students and will soon share details on the ways in which the community can participate in the dialogue.
Vice President & General Manager
Wolters Kluwer Legal Education