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Colleges to Start Offering Digital Textbooks

From CNet: Princeton and nine other colleges will be offering students digital versions of some textbooks. The good news: a 33% percent savings off the paper version. The catch: restrictions and built-in protection. The book can only be downloaded on a single computer, restricts printing, and expires (becomes inaccessible) after five months.

My guess is that these cash-strapped and computer-literate students will quickly find a way to crack it and convert to to more convenient formats. Then it’s just a matter of loading your favorite file-sharing program. Isn’t it college kids that are the most prolific file sharers?

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

1 Comment on Colleges to Start Offering Digital Textbooks

  1. Oh my, this is terrible in so many ways it is hard to know where to start.

    1) You can’t buy them on-line – you have to buy them in the campus bookstore! Of course the bookstores think this is a good idea, but even they have to realize how odd this is.

    2) The price is rediculous. 33% off for an eBook (and you know that’s 33% off the list price), that EXPIRES in 5 months? If I bought a used physical book then sold it back at the end of the semester I bet I’d pay less overall.

    3) The DRM is super-restrictive – I can appreciate some limited digital copies, but 1? If I have a PDA for class and a desktop at the dorm I can’t use it in both places. I can’t print out all I want? How does that even become my book then?

    And surprise – this scheme was dreamed up by a distributor with input from bookstores. Figures they didn’t take any input from publishers (who have a tendency here to want to cut out the distributor and stores) or consumers (the students themselves.)

    Publishers would like to sell directly and they would definately like to see physical books go away – preventing sell-backs and completely eliminating the used book market (not to mention libraries.) I suspect this will create a larger push into eBooks than what these folks have here.

    I predict total failure with somebody stating as a conclusion that students don’t want eBooks. Right!

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