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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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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
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.

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