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About 77 percent of students said they still prefer print books

Textbook publishers are hoping to battle the used textbook market with digital options, but it could take some time before students hop on that bandwagon. 

Publishers like McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson Plc don't make any money on used textbooks; their revenue comes from sales of new textbooks. However, college students in particular aren't always willing to pay the steep prices for new textbooks -- which can run hundreds of dollars -- after already having to pay thousands for tuition. 

This is where the used market comes in handy. Students can buy used print books on the cheap, and then resell them when the semester is over.

For instance, Reuters used "Biology" by Sylvia Mader and Michael Windelspecht as an example. The brand-new print version costs $229, and the used version costs $102. Students can typically resell it for about $95. 

Which route do you think students are going to take?

To address this issue for publishers, they're launching digital e-book versions of their textbooks. This allows them to sell access codes to students, which expire when the semester ends. 

For the book "Biology," the e-book version costs $120. 


This is still more expensive than the used print version, and students don't have the option to resell it after use. But textbook publishers insist that the bonus material along with the access code is worth the extra money. 

These digital versions can offer quizzes, study guides, flash cards, notes and some even act as a personal tutor for an additional fee. 

McGraw-Hill launched its LearnSmart software in 2010, which is a persona guide through the company's e-books. At that time, there were only 150,000 subscribers. In 2012, there were more than a million students. They pay about $25 to $35 per course on top of the cost of the e-book.

But not all students care to use the extra features that come with e-books. Many still like to hold a physical book in their hands and study on their own without guides and quizzes to slow the process. Not everyone learns the same way.

In a 2012 study by the National Association of College Stores, about 77 percent of students said they still prefer print books. Another survey showed that just 14 percent of classes required online e-books. 

Tech giants like Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have been working with publishers to offer e-books on devices like the iPad, Kindle and Surface. It's a win-win situation, since the tech companies sell their hardware and textbook publishers often get a cut of e-book versions sold. 

Last year, Apple introduced iBooks Author and iBooks 2. iBook Author is Mac software that allows textbook writers and publishers to create textbooks for the iPad, and iBooks 2 is the sequel to the iBooks app that provides students with new study options like note-taking.

Source: Reuters



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i sell my used book full price!
By luv2liv on 7/23/2013 11:02:35 AM , Rating: 2
i sell my used books along with my notes and.... "everything" in that class for the full price.
you gotta be suckers to buy new books for the full price with nothing else.




RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 11:12:54 AM , Rating: 5
Yes, and you've got to be a sucker to buy one of these digital textbooks, which you have no ownership rights on, vs. a used textbook that you can resell when you're done with it.

The entirety of digital products in the USA with their utter lack of ownership rights is a scam of biblical proportions. Anyone who tries to justify abdicating their ownership rights in favor of "convenience" is categorically a moron.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2013 11:17:00 AM , Rating: 2
Honestly I kept most of my textbooks. At least the ones relating to my major. Of course part of that was because I paid $120 and at the end of the semester the school only wanted to buy it back for $2.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Flunk on 7/23/2013 11:28:20 AM , Rating: 2
If you want good value you sell to other students. Not the book store. Either at the school or on eBay. Take it from a former starving student.

These E-Books are a rip-off. They cost the publisher nearly nothing to put out and they pay the authors poorly. There is really no reason (other than abject greed) to price them above $25. I hope universities start going around the publishers and offer e-books directly from the authors (who are nearly all university professors) to students around the world.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By ipay on 7/23/2013 11:37:13 AM , Rating: 1
Just because eBooks "cost the publisher nearly nothing" to distribute doesn't mean they cost little to "put out". There are many costs besides printing and distribution.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By bug77 on 7/23/2013 4:27:52 PM , Rating: 2
Name one thing that adds costs for the publisher once the first digital copy is out.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By jRaskell on 7/23/2013 5:01:41 PM , Rating: 2
it's all of the costs leading up to that first digital copy that have to be recuperated before the company can make any money off the book.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By bug77 on 7/24/2013 3:09:21 AM , Rating: 2
True, but if you're going digital, a book sold for $5 is $5 profit (minus the cost of hosting, which is typically a flat fee, thus as a publisher, the more you sell, the better). There's little reason to charge $120 for an ebook.


By maugrimtr on 7/24/2013 9:23:33 AM , Rating: 2
Bottom line, it's simple economics. Textbooks are a necessity, i.e. demand is flat and unresponsive to price in a closed market. They can charge whatever they want instead of balancing demand and supply. Arbitrage (e.g. that case where books were bought legally in Asia and resold in the US by an enterprising guy) and used sales are the only flaws in a publisher's otherwise perfect world.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By ipay on 7/24/2013 9:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
Okay, bug-brain, let's draw you a picture. Let's say a book costs $1 million to generate the content; there are the salaries of researchers, authors, editors, HR personnel, etc. Now you sell one ebook for $5. That is NOT $5 of profit. It's $5 of revenue, which is not the same thing. $999,995 is still needed before becoming profitable. What is so hard to understand about this?


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By bug77 on 7/24/2013 11:09:18 AM , Rating: 2
I got that part. The thing is selling for $5 is much more likely to generate the 200k sales you need to break even.
With physical books you can't do that because you have to actually print each book and then move it around (and pay the people who do that while you're at it). But that does not apply to digital, hence no reason for the price of a digital book to be anywhere near the price of the real deal.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By ipay on 7/24/2013 1:07:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The thing is selling for $5 is much more likely to generate the 200k sales you need to break even.
No, it's not. If these type of books were bought for enjoyment, you might have a point. When they are required for a curriculum, that is not the case. Virtually no one is going to buy a book for an engineering class they are not taking. E-books should be a little cheaper, yes, but the bulk of the cost is not in the physical asset.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By djc208 on 7/26/2013 6:41:42 AM , Rating: 2
True, but there hasn't been a lot of huge changes in most basic engineering (or math, or basic sciences), in a long time. So you are rarely buying edition 1 of those texts. It's Mechanics of Machines, 27th edition which is mostly some editorial fixes, updated references, some new practice problems, and maybe some info fleshed out or re-written. The publisher has long since re-couped the upfront costs and is now mostly making changes to kill off the used book market and generate new sales.

I kept most of my engineering texts because they don't really go bad. They might not have the right practice problems or be laid out exactly the same, but the equations inside are very unlikely to have changed.

Besides, if I'm just paying to "rent" the book from the publisher anyway then the only benefit to me is really the lower cost. If they want ebooks to be competitive they should price them closer to the return value of a printed copy since for most students that's the real cost of "renting" a textbook for the semester.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 12:00:04 PM , Rating: 2
I actually have a few of mine - particularly textbooks for given programming languages, which I kept in case I ever wound up needing to write code in those languages again. In school, I learned FORTRAN, Pascal, Assembly, PL/1, BASIC, DOS, OS/2 Assembler, COBOL, RPG II, JCL, and probably some others that I forgot. During my internship I also learned SQL, then had to take a class on it during my last semester after my internship and knew more about it than the instructor.

So someplace I probably still have at least one textbook for each of those languages laying around. The vast majority of which I never saw again after graduating anyway. At this point, $2 a book would have been the better choice.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By karimtemple on 7/23/2013 11:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
This isn't really a problem until ownership disappears and convenience is the only option. Choice is a much higher virtue than ownership. So in that respect, the moron-ness of the hypothetical person isn't quite categorical.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Flunk on 7/23/2013 11:30:05 AM , Rating: 2
You're assuming the current publisher system holds up, which is unlikely. Publishers only exist because of the high price of print publishing.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 11:55:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Choice is a much higher virtue than ownership.


That statement makes no sense...neither of those things is a virtue, first of all.

Secondly...anyone who "chooses" convenience while abdicating ownership rights is a moron, and there's no way around that.

At any rate, and as noted before, the USA is well behind other western countries in terms of ownership rights on digital products. Some day perhaps we'll catch up with the rest of the world.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By karimtemple on 7/23/2013 12:45:56 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
That statement makes no sense...neither of those things is a virtue, first of all.
You have absolutely represented ownership as an ethical and righteous thing, as compared to DRM and licensing.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/virtue
quote:
Secondly...anyone who "chooses" convenience while abdicating ownership rights is a moron, and there's no way around that.
I just explained why this isn't true, lol. Focus.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 1:01:03 PM , Rating: 2
You're a moron. I've never defined ownership as a "virtue" - I've said on many occasions that giving up one's ownership rights is moronic. That doesn't make ownership a virtue. The fact that you linked a dictionary definition here and then tried to make that assertion demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're patently illiterate.

quote:
I just explained why this isn't true, lol. Focus.


No, you didn't. In fact, you explained exactly nothing. There was no explanatory statement in your post at all.

At any rate, enjoy the last time I respond to one of your posts. As with many others, you've proven yourself to be worthless and I'm not going to expend any further effort trying to help you. Please show yourself out.


By karimtemple on 7/23/2013 1:09:06 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're a moron.

you're patently illiterate.

At any rate, enjoy the last time I respond to one of your posts. As with many others, you've proven yourself to be worthless and I'm not going to expend any further effort trying to help you. Please show yourself out.
RABBLE RABBLE RABBLE! lmao. I won't explain to you in English how you're interpreting English wrongly. That seems like it would be futile. And silly.

The point is, all these absolutes you post all the time are meaningless. Any time I read something from you it's furiously urgent and everything has to be your way all the time. It must be exhausting to be you lol.

There's usually more than one way to do something. It's often okay to just let people choose what they choose. Try not to burst a blood vessel over it.


RE: i sell my used book full price!
By omatan on 7/24/2013 10:38:00 AM , Rating: 2
Some schools are cutting deals with the publishers to get the ebook versions at highly discounted prices - up to 50% off. The schools then will often bake the cost into the tuition - so all students are 'buying' the textbook. Still as others have mentioned the total cost to the student is still higher than buying used and reselling. The publisher despite the large discount are still raking it in, as they make more money since the are selling more units.

-Ofer
http://thecheaptextbook.com


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