An average university student will spend between $900 - $1500 in books for a single semester. This is a high price for numerous students. It is no wonder students are searching for different avenues to save money. In 2008, Congress passed the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This bill forces publishers to share pricing and professors to unbundle course packages and show just required textbooks. This act has helped but there certainly are alternative avenues for students to research, such as eTextbooks.
eTextbooks are just like eBooks, electronic digital versions of printed textbooks. With printed textbooks you use highlighters to mark important sentences or phrases and they are heavy. Many students are moving towards the mobile eBook Readers and computer screens for their textbook reading. Depending upon the eBook Reader you have or the computer you have, highlighting and note taking are available. There is one huge benefit I see for eTextbooks, searching. You can locate and view the section of text instantly with an eTextbook.
Finding a good digital library website for eTextbooks can be challenging. Then there is finding the textbook you want. All textbooks have an ISBN number. The is the bar coded serial number on the back of the book which confirms registertration with the Library of Congress. Each book will contain an unique ISBN number. So the eTextbook and the printed textbook will each have their own ISBN number. Most digital libraries will assist you in your search. Just be certain it is the correct book, author and print date before you purchase.
Today the average student finds several choices for textbooks.
1) NEW Hardcover Books ~ the most expensive! Remember, at the end of the semester you can sell these books back to the campus book store!
2) USED Hardcover Books ~ about 30% or better off list price.
3) Renting Textbooks ~ This is fast becoming a growing option. Drawback however is that you cannot take notes or highlight in most rental books. The first online book rental service was bookrenter.com. With their flexible rental agreements and return process save students up to 75% off retail textbook prices. In October 2008 CNBC featured bookrenter.com.
3) Purchase Electronic Textbooks ~ can save a student as much as 50% off the hardcover pricing. There are some drawbacks to keep in mind. If you have an eBook Reader you need to confirm that it can be uploaded into your eBook Reader. Second, if you want printed copies of chapters or pages you most likely will NOT be able to do this with an eTextbook due to copyright issues.
4) Subscription Electronic Textbooks ~ can save you as much as 70% off list prices. This option is like going to the library and checking out the textbook for the duration of a semester. It is not your book, so you cannot take notes or highlight passages of text. You most likely will not be able to print pages either.
5) Open Source eTextbooks ~ These are downloadable FREE textbooks. The biggest pitfall to free eTextbooks is the lack of selection. Sites like Freedom Press and Project Gutenberg off open source etextbooks. Selling ad space is what allows Freedom Press the capability to provide this free service, so you might see adds on the pages of the eBooks you download. I would recommend looking at these sites but I would not count on finding all the books you require. As stated before you will need to make sure the eTextbook you download will be compatible with your eBook Reader if that is what you are planning on using. And investigate the rules for printing hard copy pages from the eTextbook.
As you can undoubtedly see, the electronic age has arrived at college campuses. My best advice is to slow down, decide how you learn best, look at your budget and combine the choices above to find the correct solution for you.