E-Textbooks are cheaper and becoming more available

Fernando Yates

The City Bookstore offers electronic versions for most textbooks each semester, usually at the fraction of the price of printed copies.

Each semester instructors submit their book lists to the bookstore, and according to the bookstore staff, the number of e-textbooks requested is increasing.

While printed books are still selling in higher quantities, e-textbooks are starting to become more popular at City College.

The reasons for the growing popularity can possibly be attributed to the fact the e-textbooks are generally less expensive, costing half the price of the printed books.

For example, the used version of “Living Psychology,” the text for psychology 101, is $100.10 used while the electronic version is $65.80. “Earth and its People,” the text for history 100, is $123.00 for a new printed version and $63.75 for the electronic version.

Assistant bookstore supervisor Sammie Noel says that the bookstore is “pro student” and explains that the store tries to minimize the total cost for students each semester, in this case by offering less expensive alternatives to printed books.

So why don’t more students use e-textbooks? They are only available when instructors request them and at times students are unaware that they are even available.

For example, second year student Martin Cardenas was unaware that the City Bookstore offered e-textbooks for most classes prior to being interviewed. Cardenas did like the idea of e-textbooks and asked, “Why would you want to carry around five books?”

Economics professor Alex Obiya offers and even prefers e-textbooks for all of his classes. He says that e-textbooks are more cost effective and believes that they will be the norm in ten years. He estimates that 20 percent of his students use an electronic version of his required text.

When you buy an e-textbook, what you are really buying is a license from the publisher to use the book, much like you do when you buy software.

What you actually get when you pay for your book is a serial, or code, that you enter at a publisher’s web site.

Once you do that you are allowed to download your textbook. The file is usually a PDF that can be opened in almost any computer, some cell phones, or in an e-reader.

Most e-textbooks are exact copies of the printed edition.