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BBB Advice on Textbooks versus E-textbooks

Created: 01/05/2014 6:21 PM WDIO.com
By: Better Business Bureau

With another semester right around the corner, you can bet that some college students are already starting to do their research online, trying to find the best deals on textbooks. According to CollegeBoard, college students spend an average of $1,200 per year on textbooks. It’s no secret that expenses are high for students pursuing higher education and many young adults are constantly seeking ways to save money. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) reminds students e-textbooks are an option to consider.
 
Many publishing companies have begun to offer textbooks in an e-textbook format, made for computers, tablets and e-readers, at a lower price than the hardcover texts found in campus bookstores. So why aren’t more students opting for a tablet instead of carrying around multiple textbooks? There are some advantages and disadvantages to using a tablet or e-reader rather than traditional textbooks, and the BBB suggests that students should consider them all before making the decision to switch up their study tools.
 
Reasons students should consider e-textbooks:

  • E-textbooks are significantly less expensive than their hard-copy counterparts. However, you have to factor in the cost of the tablet or reader itself, ranging anywhere from $80 - $300, depending on the model you choose. So you’ll want to make sure that the savings will be worth the investment in the end. If you’re an incoming freshman or sophomore, chances are the investment is worth it, but if you have only a semester or two of school left and are planning to purchase the e-reader solely for academic purposes, you may want to just stick to traditional textbooks.
  • Imagine all of your heavy textbooks compacted into one, lightweight device. This not only takes the strain off of your back, but also makes it a lot easier to do homework anywhere. Also, you have all of your textbooks in one spot, which is definitely a convenience.
  • Most tablets operate off of Wi-Fi and can be used for many things besides just reading e-books.

Reasons some students might stick with traditional textbooks:

  • With most textbooks, you may be able to sell them back to the bookstore or online at the end of the semester, giving you at least some of your cash back. Keep in mind that you can’t re-sell e-textbooks.
  • Tablets and e-readers may actually hinder study habits for those used to learning from physical textbooks. Some people might find it more difficult to annotate and take notes with e-textbook formats. Students that use e-textbooks may choose to continue taking notes on paper.
  • Not all textbooks are available in all formats. Some editions may only be available as standard textbooks.

If you choose to opt for a tablet or an e-reader, you will also want to do some research to find out which model is the best fit for you. Read consumer reviews and make sure you understand the features that each tablet offers. If you already own an e-reader or a tablet, you may want to experiment with one e-textbook, to see how – and if – that works for you.
 

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