“Textbooks are ridiculously overpriced in most cases,” Ketchen said. “We were approached by a new publisher who was interested in a different business model where students would be able to read the book online for free.”
Ketchen and his co-author, Jeremy Short, a business professor at the University of Oklahoma, worked with the publisher Flat World Management to write “Mastering Strategic Management,” a textbook for strategic management courses.
“It was really appealing to us because we were students once, and we had humble upbringings,” Ketchen said. “Finding the money to buy textbooks was difficult, and we wanted to create a good book that students could read for free.”
Strategic management is a required course for all business students at universities across the country, including Auburn, Ketchen said.
The textbook was released Dec. 23, but is not currently being used for strategic management courses at Auburn because it was not publicized until January, after the semester had already begun.
The textbook is available for free online, but students can buy a black-and-white hardcopy for $35. Color copies are available for $60, and it can also be purchased and downloaded to an iPad or other tablet for $35.
“The typical strategic management textbook costs $150, so that gives an idea of how much money textbook companies are making off of students,” Ketchen said.
Ketchen and Short first met when Short was pursuing his doctorate at Louisiana State University. He took a class taught by Ketchen, and the two have since collaborated on four textbooks and graphic novel textbooks.
Short said they wanted to write a textbook that was not “a snooze-fest.” To do so, they incorporated lots of visual aspects to appeal to students and help them learn the material.
“Lots of folks today are visual learners—they learn through pictures as much as words,” Ketchen said. “We have concept pages that are basically visual displays that highlight and illustrate the concepts.”
Short credits their past writing experience for creating a visually stimulating textbook.
“I don’t know if we would have been able to create a more interesting textbook if we didn’t have the experience of creating the graphic novels first,” Short said.
Ketchen said he hopes his textbook will outsell one of the premier strategic management textbooks written by Arthur Thompson and A.J. Strickland III, two professors at the University of Alabama.
Their textbook, “Crafting & Executing Strategy: The Quest for Competitive Advantage,” retails for $175.
“To me, this is the ‘Iron Bowl enters the textbook arena,’ and I’m going to enjoy taking their lunch money,” Ketchen said.
Ketchen and Short’s textbook is available online at the Flat World Knowledge website, flatworldknowledge.com.
“There’s no adds, no pop-ups, no silliness like that,” Ketchen said. “You can just read the textbook online for free.”