Inside Iowa State / Jan. 27 2011 / Anne Krapfl
In University Book Store's (UBS) first semester of offering textbooks in electronic form, 1 percent of the texts sold were e-textbooks. As of Monday (two weeks into spring semester), bookstore officials said students had purchased 458 e-textbooks from the 245 titles the store offered in electronic format. They're pleased with those results.
UBS decided to sell e-texts because students have been asking for the option, he said
Variables In Expanded Use Of e-Textbooks
Making them more interactive
Making them viewable on more kinds of portable devices, including e-readers and smartphones
They're less expensive -- as little as half the cost of a new hard copy of the same title and typically less than a used copy as well -- and less cumbersome to haul around, Wierson noted. E-textbooks include features such as highlighting, note-taking on specific pages and a read-aloud audio feature. And, Wierson said, nationally, 25 percent of college students prefer reading online to reading a printed page.
How e-Textbooks Work
A student who purchases an e-textbook is equipped with several purchase codes to log into the digital textbook website of the bookstore's wholesaler, MBS Textbook Exchange, Columbia, Mo. From there, MBS directs the student to one of three electronic publishers, CourseSmart, VitalSource or Xplana, for the e-text. When more than one offers a title, MBS selects the one with the lowest price.
All publishers offer a "view online" option; an internet browser and Adobe Flash software are the basic requirements. VitalSource and CourseSmart offer an alternative: download the e-textbook to a personal computer or laptop. CourseSmart's download option also lets clients read the book on an iPad, iPhone or iPod with the right application. But Wierson noted the publishers are working on improvements and options constantly.
Wierson said the bookstore expects to stay in the e-textbook business. Where there's a match between a faculty member's textbook request and the wholesaler's e-textbook catalog, in most cases UBS will sell it.
He noted that two evolving variables may influence student interest in purchasing e-textbooks:
E-textbooks that are increasingly interactive
E-textbooks that are viewable on more models of portable devices, including e-readers and smartphones
Cost Comparison: New, Used, Rental And Electronic
Introduction to Engineering Analysis (Aerospace engineering 160)
Chemistry The Central Science (Chemistry 178)
Nutritional Sciences (Food science and human nutrition 265)
igenetics (Agronomy 320)
Real Analysis (Math 516)
Hard Evidence (Anthropology 524)