Easy access…

Well folks, this marks post will mark the end of my ‘official’ course-based blog entries. But rest assured, I hope to continue posting on this blog about education, technology, libraries, etc. As a general rule, I will try to keep my current Tuesday/Friday posting schedule, so if you are so inclined, consider this an invitation to stop by. 🙂

There have been many varied and wide-ranging discussion in the past, but I wanted to give some sense of closure to the E-books in schools conversation.

To begin with, as I was reading through things on the Web I found this study on Investopedia about ‘renting’ e-textbooks, and whether it saves students money. The findings indicate that students potentially could save money by renting their textbooks from sites such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, though savings depend both on the edition and on the length of renting term needed.

What a cool idea!

Having the ability to pick how long you need the book for, and then get access to it at a discounted rate seems like the perfect marriage between cash strapped students, schools, and boards and distributors who still aim to make money off their products.

Obviously, the benefit for schools and institutions could be limitless, as school that are able to use electronic formats, but perhaps not able to forward the digital licenses to purchase copies of books in their budgets, could ‘rent’ copies of them for a school year; with potential savings.Being able to stay abreast of new editions, and getting their hands on new resources for a fraction of the cost, seems like something that could really take off.

However there are drawbacks as well.

The recurring cost of renting textbooks will definitely outpace the onetime purchase expenditure over the course of 2-3 years. While this may make it more accessible in the here and now, overtime it would be more cost-efficient to simply buy the book.

Additionally, since after the rental period is up you lose your access to the book, having a nicely marked up text that you can continually reference as a teacher would not be possible. Yes there are note taking programs that would help mitigate this problem, but it would require some training time to get all teachers on board. (Beyond trying to get them to accept E-books to begin with)

Finally, while it may be fine for elementary and secondary schools, I worry about this movement for university and graduate students. It is a nice way to save money, and with textbook costs rising beyond recognition, that will help ease the burden of University life. However, once again after the rental, the book is gone.

No personal library of course texts to refer to later – without another rental.

No resale income from old textbooks. (And rental prices aren’t so low that wouldn’t be missed)

While I realize the majority of texts are resold anyways, that is a CHOICE that can be made at the end of the semester. If a book is particularly useful, the student can choose to keep it. If not, they sell it. In this format, they have no choice. And it would be another expenditure to either rent it again, or purchase it.

Overall though, this appears to be the wave of the future. What I wonder, is if schools will find anything enticing them to go this route, or if they will stay with the cycle of upgrading textbooks every number of years?

Any other thoughts on this? Did I miss something?


One thought on “Easy access…”

  1. I think this is a thorough analysis. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing, and I’d also like to see differential rental rates for ebooks vs. printed texts. It makes sense that the distribution costs are lower for digital texts, so that should be passed along to the consumer.

    For my graduate program, however, I agree with you that I want to encourage our folks to invest in a professional library. It’s expensive, and it’s not something everybody wants (especially when moving from one house or office to another. But a professional without a professional library is missing something very important.

    And by the way, I’ll keep reading!

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