Discount eTextbooks: Pros and Cons
Compared to physical textbooks, eTextbooks provide a potentially superior reading and studying experience. While cost-conscious students will be disappointed to learn that they can't buy used copies (in order to save money), nondigital textbooks will never be able to offer the same level of convenience and flexibility as eTextbooks. Read more below.
Why Some Students Are Switching to eTextbooks
The average textbook weighs about 3.5 pounds and costs between $50 to $100. Over the course of your college education, you might purchase around 50 textbooks. However, you don't need to purchase physical textbooks any longer. Most new course literature is being digitally published, allowing you to access the very same materials on your tablet or laptop computer. Will eTextbooks become required reading in the future, or will they become a niche product?
Similar Layout and Identical Content
When you purchase an eTextbook, the first thing you'll notice is that the inside is essentially the same. Paragraphs will still be organized in the same order, and images will still be located in the same position. However, your ereader will probably display less information on any given page, so if the physical textbook has 300 pages, the eTextbook version likely has close to 1,000 pages.
You can change the number of pages in your etextbook by adjusting your ereader's font type and size, which can make reading easier over long periods. Most eTextbooks will still include the physical textbook's page numbers, so you can follow along in class when your professor asks you to turn to page 192. All of the information is be identical word-for-word, if it's the same edition.
Your ereader should offer highlighting and note-taking functionality. If you use a tablet or laptop, your ebook software should offer the same features. You can also open Microsoft Word or another word processing program to write an essay or complete other homework at the same time. Your eTextbooks and written assignments will always be in the same location, so you won't misplace either.
Any Device of Your Choosing
When you purchase a physical textbook, you're stuck with the physical versions offered by the publisher. Most textbooks are only available as hardcovers. They're expensive and heavy, and you might have to jam five or six into your backpack each day. With discount ebooks, you can choose any device you'd like. You're not limited to a Windows PC or Apple iPad. You can choose any device running Windows, iOS, Mac OS X, or Android.
As previously mentioned, physical college booksweigh about 3.5 pounds. If you need to carry four of them to class, you'll need to carry about 15 pounds, which can grow fairly heavy if you need to walk a mile across campus. The average laptop weighs about 5 pounds. Tablets are even more lightweight — the newest iPad weighs just 1.44 pounds, and the Kindle Fire HDX weighs just 0.82 pounds.
Physical textbooks are so heavy that you practically need to sit at a table or desk to read them, but you can lay in bed, sit on a couch, or relax in a car while you read your discount eTextbooks. Your arms won't grow tired, and you'll still be able to highlight and take notes without making a mess.
If you need to buy books and you need to buy them NOW, you have a few options. You can purchase the textbooks at your school's bookstore (they might even have a digital options), you can compare textbook prices on digital versions of them online.
When you order discount eTextbooks, you can download them in a matter of seconds to your device. Your bookstore might not have the cheapest price on digital books, because the publisher. If you want to, you can even purchase your discount ebooks while waiting in class on the first day and download them before your professor walks in the room!
Lose Your Copy? No Problem!
If you misplace your physical textbook in a classroom, or your dog eats it, it's probably gone forever. If you accidentally drop your tablet and break it, you can always download your discount eTextbooks again (free of charge!). You'll never need to worry about permanently losing them.
No Used Copies
Unfortunately, you can't resell most discount ebooks due to DRM (digital rights management) software. In fact, most digital textbooks are sold as rentals. While the majority of discount ebooks are cheaper than brand new physical textbooks, used books are often cheaper than both.
You also won't be able to purchase used copies of digital books. Some students prefer used copies because they get to see what information former students highlighted, which can make studying more effective. Other students prefer new copies because they can take their own notes. With eTextbooks, you don't have a choice, though note taking options are there for some platforms of ebooks.