We’ve posted a few items in the past six weeks where students share their views about e-books.
An article in The Daily Iowan (University of Iowa) discusses that next semester the University Bookstore will have a service in place allowing students to download 125 e-book titles online without having to visit the bookstore. The store began selling e-books this semester.
The article includes the number of e-textbooks sold since the first day of class at the University Bookstore and the total for August, 2010 at the Iowa Bookstore.
The books cost around 40 percent of the price of their new print versions. The store has sold 97 e-books since the first day of classes [on August 23rd] and Richard Shannon, the University Bookstore general manager, said that number may rise once the e-books become available on the bookstore’s website.
“I wouldn’t use it because I don’t want to haul around a laptop all over campus,” UI senior Joshua Kersten said. “I like the satisfaction of using a textbook all semester and then turning it in for cash.”
Introduction to Computer Science is a UI class that offers the electronic version of its textbook in addition to print. Professor Alberto Segre, who teaches the class, thinks the only reason students choose the e-book edition is because it’s cheaper.
In August 2009, Iowa Book sold 38 e-books. This year, it sold 40.
The U. of Iowa has more than 30,000 students.
Finally, the article includes a couple of comments from the associate director of retail operations at the Illini Union Bookstore at the University of Illinois [Champaign-Urbana] where they offer more than 300 titles from three vendors.
Source: The Daily Iowan
This makes sense! 40% of $100 is still $40. That’s a lot of money to commit when 1) the quality is unknown, 2) you don’t get anything tangible, and 3) you can’t resell it.
Thinking back to college, I would have either wanted a good reference to keep (in hardbound format) or the chance at selling it back for more than 60% (which might not have happened often, but that’s not known at the beginning of a semester). The risk of having poor quality images in e-textbooks would also be too great.
If it were an English class (or other text-heavy reading), I’d have been all over e-books. Half the books would probably be available for free!
I would be interested in knowing how they are offering the digital books for sale. Stores that sell them only on a website or offer very few books do not do well. Digital are often afterthoughts with no marketing or presence in the bookstore.
However, there are college stores that offer hundreds of ebooks and they offer them on the shelf next to the physical books. Some of these stores are selling a thousand or more digital books each semester.
I think students are following price points for textbooks and would be very willing to buy digital in large numbers if the books were available. A school with 4000 titles may find that they are able to match less than 10% of titles digitally. You can not build these sales without some sort of momentum.
Every college textbook e-book I have seen so far expired at the end of the class. If I could download it to the Kindle and keep it after, I would pay $40 for it. But $40 and then it’s gone? I would rather pay more for the paper and get to keep it or sell it.
I am not surprised at this article. The ereaders out there are simply not ready for prime time and university is not the place to play games with one’s future.
As others have pointed out the other restrictions on use are a nail in the coffin.
When eReaders come of age they will have to deal with the copyright throat hold, the
“The download is an electronic rental and lasts for the semester, timing out at 180 days.”
So .. with expiring codes this is essentially a payment of 40% of a full price to RENT the book for up to 180 days compared with lifetime ownership. oye!