Digital and Online Textbooks

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  Digital and Online Textbooks

Lighten your backpack and explore the world of electronic textbooks.

By Ashley Henshaw

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Digital and Online Textbooks
Photo: Thinkstock

Do you want to lose a bunch of money really quickly? Buy college textbooks.

College textbooks are necessary and informative, but they’ve become increasingly expensive over the past few years, burning holes in students’ pockets. College students typically have to budget at least $1,000 per semester for books.

Paperless textbooks are more eco-friendly, and you don’t need to worry about textbook resale value, trying to track down buyers for used textbooks, or being unable to afford new editions of textbooks.

Online textbooks have been gaining ground recently as reliable and cost-effective alternatives to traditional college textbooks made from paper. Surprisingly, with 95 percent of students owning a computer of some kind, many don’t know about this. Online textbooks don’t have nearly the market share you might think.

Online Textbooks

Imagine two students: One pays $200 for a textbook and the other pays $50 for a digital copy of the same. Both students need the book for two years, but after the first year, the text is updated and rereleased. The first student is told he has to buy the new edition for another $200. The second student’s digital copy is automatically updated digitally.

At the California State University system, this has already happened. A digital textbook company has partnered with the CSU system for three years to replace textbooks for certain classes with digital copies.

Are Digital Textbooks Too Good to Be True?

How is it that you can save so much money? Print textbooks cost a lot of money to publish, print and distribute. They have to charge much more to cover these costs. For digital textbooks, these costs are nonexistent, and the result is a lower price.

One downside to the online textbook is accessibility. A book placed in a student’s hand is always more accessible than a digital one. If students don’t have access to a computer or tablet, then they are at a disadvantage to use digital copies. If a textbook is online, then a student must have online access.

Textbooks in the E-book Age

Luckily, with the advent of the Kindle and Nook, and the resurgence of tablet computers, digital textbooks have gotten easier to work with. Textbooks no longer need to be online to be paperless. They can be downloaded like an app. Only five percent of the college population doesn’t have some kind of computer, and those without one most likely would be able to use editions at computer labs in their school.

Other Advantages of Digital Textbooks

Paperless textbooks are more eco-friendly, and you don’t need to worry about textbook resale value, trying to track down buyers for used textbooks, or being unable to afford new editions of textbooks. And as tablet computer and e-book ownership continues to grow, surveys from companies such as Pearson have shown those owners actually prefer digital textbooks to traditional ones. Springbank 13 Year Old Sherry Cask NC2 Single Malt Whisky - Springbank

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