E-textbooks for Colleges—Less Costly, More Functional
The convenience of new multifunction tablet computers, combined with the rising costs of college textbooks, are driving the increasing adoption and availability of e-textbooks. Textbook price increases are outpacing inflation and represent a sizable burden for students struggling to pay tuition. Textbooks now cost much more than $100 each and sometimes more than $200 each. These high prices
are driven by the cost to produce the supplemental material authors prepare for teachers and students, including CDs, quizzes, and lesson plans.
E-textbooks are about half the cost of hardcopy textbooks and offer other advantages, as well. They are often offered as 180-day rentals at even lower costs.
Moreover, e-textbooks will decrease the number of used books purchased. The National Association of College Stores estimates that used books account for one-third of total sales of college textbooks. Publishers receive no royalties on used-book sales.
Another advantage of electronic formats is that they lend themselves to interactive features and other enhancements. For example, new tablet computers support full-color and interactive graphics that students can manipulate; for instance, they can edit the inputs of pie charts and bar graphs to see how the outcome changes. In addition, publishers are thinking about other creative ways to offer information online, such as selling single chapters of books on particular topics. Publishers receive lower royalties on e-textbooks because of the lower overall prices. However, they will gain material savings on printing, warehousing, and
distribution, which are major cost considerations. In addition, authors will be able to more easily edit their books for the inevitable errors that show up after a book has been printed. Some publishers allow professors to customize books for their classes by reorganizing or deleting chapters and uploading syllabuses.
- Turning the Page: Common Ways to Save on Textbook Shopping [Infographic] (turbotax.intuit.com)
- Tips for Lowering the Cost of College Textbooks (college.answers.com)