Although not the first to ask this question, Lee Wilson puts it succinctly: “Why can’t teachers buy lessons like people buy songs off of iTunes? Are publishers at risk of irrelevance if they don’t proactively solve this problem for their customers?”
In my role as Director of E-Learning at Ryerson University, I’m currently working on this problem with a publisher. Of course, my goal is not to fend off irrelevance for textbook publishers, but to solve the ‘content problem’ in online higher education. But, hey, if we can save publishing at the same time, that would be cool too.