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E-textbooks may not be cheaper than regular books


MagnetMom August 28, 2008

With the discussion of the high costs of textbooks, one idea has been e-books.  Either on a CD/DVD, or completely accessible from a website.  The thinking is, without the printing and transit costs, books will be cheaper.

But researchers found some drawbacks to e-books, and the link to the LA Times article is here:

My biggest issue, as mentioned in the article, is that I can not stare at a screen for hours (text actually moves online).  So, I can relate with the need for a big, old heavy book in my hand to read for hours.

Would e-books be enough of a cost-saving alternative to make this a viable solution for you or your kids?

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healthy11 August 28, 2008

I'd checked into the texts my son needed, in terms of on-line access, and didn't find many even available. I asked him his preference, and he said "hard copy." Without being able to reach his teachers to verify if they'd even recommend e-copies (what if they allow open-book tests?) we opted to buy conventional books.
It's certainly easier to sit in bed with a book than a computer, and it's virtually impossible to sit outside and read off a computer screen on a nice sunny day. In addition to being able to resell the books a student no longer wants, even e-books that would have a longer time limit of even 540 days, as mentioned in the article, still would not allow a student to use them as references for a class the following year, which could be particularly important to kids in certain technical majors...


MagnetMom August 28, 2008

Healthy, you sum it up nicely! Another issue is once you start printing pages out, how on earth are you going to keep it organized? I know what it costs to print out laser printed pages, and if the color is off, that would be a concern as well.

"Expiration" dates could be for the life of the edition, but honestly, I don't see the publishers going for that, despite the cycles getting shorter and shorter.

I think at least in the near future, books are going to remain books.


MSMomm September 2, 2008

MagnetMom and healthy11:
Have either of you heard of I heard about this website this morning on NPR. They have textbooks that you can download.

Personally, my daughter will graduate from high school next year, so we're not to this point, yet.

Just thought I'd pass on some information you may want to check out.


healthy11 September 2, 2008

Thanks, MSMomm. Speaking for Magnetmom and myself, our kids are reluctant to buying e-texts, but for those interested, your resource could be useful.


healthy11 January 14, 2009

We spent time today trying to sort out a textbook purchase for next semester, and found a new approach being taken by some publishers...combining e-text with paperbacks.

Thankfully, the course instructor send an email to all enrolled students, saying she doesn't give a hoot what version book kids get for her course, so long as they got on-line homework access too. Then she proceeded to say that if students planned to take the follow-on class, they might just as well by the "enlarged" version of the text, rather than buy two separate books. Furthermore, kids in certain majors might need a 3rd volume, so if they bought the "expanded" text, they'd get everything at once. The instructor cautioned students to be sure what they were getting from the campus bookstore, or just order from the publisher.

We decided to order from the publisher, and discovered the "expanded" text came in hardcover version, paperback version with e-text access, or paperback separate volumes 1, 2, and 3 with e-text access. They were all close to $200. While a hardcover book probably would have better resale value, we decided to buy the separate paperbacks with e-text access, since (hopefully) it will be a "lighter load" in his backpack if he doesn't have to carry a single huge text all the time, and when he comes home on weekends, he can use the e-text. While it's not a cheaper alternative than buying a traditional hardcover textbook, this sounds like it might be the "best of both worlds" since he can still keep the printed books for later reference, while having portability of e-text access now.

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