Digital Textbooks may not change the educational industry as much as Amazon, Google, Inkling and other companies would hope. Students in five San Antonio colleges are revolting due to policy that would phase out textbooks and move entirely digital.
Students at five Alamo Colleges have been staging protests over the schools plans to abandon physical textbooks and embrace digital ones. The students claim this move would prevent them from buying used ones on the secondary market or buy them from friends. The chancellor of Alamo Colleges has argued eBooks would actually be cheaper for students and can be delivered straight to their tablets before the semester starts.
The crux of the issue is choice. Local businesses will not be able to sell textbooks anymore, because they will be irrelevant to students. Students won’t be able to comparably shop to get the best deals anymore, in any primary or secondary market.
Digital textbooks continue to disappoint. Over 75% of college students surveyed by the National Association of College Stores say they would rather read print over digital. Amazon and Google both offer textbook rental programs, but are just aimed at people living in the USA. You never hear about how the companies sales are doing or see press releases on breaking any records. Amazon is very well known for issuing press releases on almost a weekly basis, when have you heard anything about textbooks? It is very telling. Other companies are abandoning the market altogether, such as Inkling. Instead of selling books, they are licensing our their platform to people who want to try and make a go of market penetration themselves.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.