American college students spent nearly $33 million on e-textbooks in 2011, a 46 percent increase from the previous year, according to a USA Today report. However, that figure only accounts for 11 percent of the total textbook market. Sales of e-books are gradually gaining momentum, in part, due to the advent of e-readers and mobile device apps.
Textbook publishers and eBooks
There are a lot of advantages to e-books. In addition to being less expensive to produce and distribute, e-books can go from the author’s PC to the student’s laptop in a fraction of the time necessary for a traditional hardback textbook. E-books are a natural partner for online learning, but increasingly, they also make sense for students in a classroom setting. Where do teachers and students find e-books for their classes? What textbook publishers offer e-books?
Here are a few suggestions:
- Chegg: Founded in 2007, northern California-based Chegg offers titles in more than three dozen subject areas. The company recently introduced a cloud-based e-book reader, which makes the textbooks easier to read and allows the company to offer interactive support functions, such as definitions, highlighting capabilities and note-taking.
- Kno: Kno, another northern California company, sells an app that makes books from traditional hardcover publishers, like McGraw-Hill and Pearson, available as e-books. This publisher, founded in 2009, currently offers more than 200,000 titles for students in K-12 and college.
- CourseSmart: CourseSmart, formed in 2007 as a partnership by McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Cengage Learning and other traditional textbooks publishers, currently offers more than 20,000 e-textbook titles, including 90 percent of the core textbooks now in use in US colleges and universities. CourseSmart launched an iPhone app in 2010, the first e-textbook publisher to do so.
- Barnes and Noble: Online book retailers, including Barnes and Noble (B&N), Amazon and eCampus.com, have also gotten into the e-textbook market. Long a go-to source for the best prices on print texts, B&N offers thousands of titles to rent or buy, all of which can be viewed on a PC or Mac as well as on B&N’s Nook e-reader. B&N also allows prospective buyers to sample thousands of text titles for seven days. Texts are typically available for 360 days.
Few will deny that e-textbooks, which currently make up just 11 percent of college textbook sales, are the way of the future. Though not as satisfying as holding a printed textbook in your lap, e-books are affordable, portable and increasingly available.