Schools Consider Electronic Text Bookstore Choices
By COLLEEN HUBER
E-textbooks are becoming more relevant in the education of college students as several universities are beginning to offer them at their bookstores; the University of Mary Washington included, offering 29 different e-textbooks at the university bookstore.
Five universities are working together with Internet2 to begin the process of switching to e-textbooks, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
According to The Chronicle, the project will include around 5,300 students in approximately 130 classes.
The five universities involved are Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, the University of Virginia and the University of Wisconsin.
These universities are cautious in joining this plan. According to The Chronicle, the Universities are using only a few of their courses to test out the idea, and are not charging students the proposed fee, yet but are covering it themselves.
According to The Chronicle, the idea of the project is to end the need for students to buy their own textbooks and instead have each student pay a steady course fee. The University would then use that money to buy discounted e-textbooks.
However, publishers are interested in this plan because it means a more stable income, according to The Chronicle. The plan does not allow students to find their textbooks at discounted prices on websites such as Amazon.com.
“I think that e-textbooks are a good idea because they are good for the environment and they are a cheaper way to buy your textbooks,” said sophomore environmental science major Kelsey Moxey.
However, according to The Chronicle, the only publisher involved in the plan so far is McGraw-Hill.
Many publishers are having a hard time agreeing on a fixed price per textbook, according to The Chronicle.
“It seems like there is no way to accurately price these per student,” said Halverson.
Many students often find other means of purchasing their textbooks in order to lower the cost.
“As an English major, my books are all novels that I can find in the library or rent online,” said Halverson.
The biggest concern for publishers, according to The Chronicle, is the issue of piracy. This is because textbooks are steadily becoming more linked to software and the internet.
UMW offers students 29 different e-textbooks in 23 different classes, according to Donovan Garcia, who works in the textbook department at the university bookstore. A few of the courses that offer e-textbooks include Accounting Information Systems, Computer Science II: Data Structures, Planning History and Practice and American History to 1865.
Certain e-textbooks have been available at UMW for the past couple of years, according to Kathy Sandor, retail operations manager at the university bookstore.
“The e-textbooks we carry are digital versions accessed via web or download and each publisher has different guidelines,” said Sandor.
UMW does not have any set plans to begin charging students a steady fee instead of paying for each individual textbook.
“That is a decision that would come through faculty, administration and businesses,” said Sandor.
“However, the e-textbooks that UMW does offer in the bookstore have not been popular with students,” said Sandor. “They are less than one percent of the sales.”
The unpopularity with e-textbooks may be due to the fact that there are different versions of the textbooks available and so there is no uniformity, according to Garcia. Additionally, Garcia said many students prefer to sell books back at the end of the semester.
“If you come in with your Kindle to buy a specific e-textbook, it may not work,” said Garcia, due to compatibility.