Whether to save green or be green, eBooks, electronic copies of published texts sales increased over 200 percent according to the Association of American Publishers compared to last year. Consumers and specially college students are looking to digital applications for their reading.
After a slow start due to controversy over the productivity of students using eTextbooks, the lower costs have appealed to many students. Most printed textbooks are available in a digital form with some publisher’s releasing new titles only available in electronic form. CourseSmart.com, the nation’s leader in textbook sales reports that eBooks often cost 60 percent less than printed textbooks.
One of the biggest challenges has been faced by the college bookstores.
“This semester there has been a big influx towards eBooks,” said Marianne Gines, Textbook Manager at SLCC.
For the Fall 2010 semester there are eleven eBooks available for purchase at the college store. They have also produced a program where students may pay for their eBook on campus and the access code will be emailed directly to the student.
The president of the National Association of College Stores, Vicky Bennion reported in an industry newsletter, “We [College Stores] continue to be challenged by changes to how our traditional source of revenue is priced, sold and consumed, while competition from traditional and non-traditional sources, continue to erode market share.”
Many students are partial to the functionality of a traditional book and are not looking to make the change to an electronic version. Chris Jensen, a SLCC General Studies student is one of those students. He uses strictly paper textbooks.
“Real textbooks are more mobile and lightweight. I don’t care if I rough them up where as my laptop, I don’t want to get a scratch on it. I can also highlight key points on my textbooks,” he said.
Students also look forward to getting some money back during the textbook buyback at the end of the semester.
The environmental impact is most obvious. A study performed by CaféScribe.com, a website that sells eBooks states, “Student using digital textbooks rather than its counterparts would save nearly 50,000 sheets of paper-enough to save six trees-over the course of 4 years at a university.”
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development named March 7-13, 2010, “Read and E-Book Week.” According to them, other than just saving trees, eBooks reduce the carbon footprint by saving ink, fossil fuels for processing, transportation and maintenance of storage facilities.”
The new market has opened new competition. Predominately a dot-com business, eBooks can be found in the electronic departments of Wal-Mart, Target and most traditional bookstores. E-readers and the technology to download, is continually improving. The high cost of the devices has pushed electronics companies to produce more functional and economic devices for consumers to access eBooks. The latest introduction of Apple’s iPad joins their iPod and iPhone application, as well as Amazon’s Kindle and the usual personal computer format.
The economic and environmental impact of eBooks has changed the look of America’s bookshelves, the classroom and business world.