Despite students’ early enthusiasm toward e-books as a cheaper alternative to traditional textbooks, a new study finds that for the most part, the total savings was just $1. With publishers saving a great deal of money by not having to print textbooks and ship them out, why aren’t those savings being passed on to students?
The study, conducted over four semesters at Daytona State College, compared four different means of textbook distribution: traditional print purchase, print rental, e-textbook rental and e-textbook rental with an e-reader device. According to the study’s authors, the $1-dollar difference was attributed to “publisher pricing decisions” and the fact that students who opted to rent e-textbooks could not sell their materials back once the semester ended. But pricing wasn’t the only hiccup: E-books have proven to be unreliable in some classroom settings. For instance, wireless networks in classrooms where several students were using e-textbooks at once sometimes became overwhelmed and translated into no e-book access for the entire class. (For more on the study, click here.)
Even with these glitches, do you think e-textbooks in every classroom in the near future are inevitable? What steps can colleges and universities take in order to ensure publishers set up fair pricing for e-textbooks and that the students using them will have better in-class access to the materials?