e-textbooks

iPads are a common delivery method of e-textbooks. The N.C. State Library is looking into providing free e-textbooks for students. 

Digital textbooks, or e-books, could become popular in classrooms at N.C. State.  

Currently, students may choose between buying an e-book or the hard copy version of a textbook.

Mike Nowlin, the textbook manager at the N.C. State bookstores, said that because publishers are beginning to lean away from the sale of regular textbooks, the use of e-books could become much more common.

“As the publishers push the idea of e-books more and more I think that possibly within three to five years it will become quite pervasive,” Nowlin said.

Will Cross, the director of copyright and digital scholarship center, said that the popularity of e-books is a response to the fact that regular textbooks are extremely expensive, which makes it difficult for many people to obtain a college education.

“I think that e-books, open textbooks and alternate types of course readings are a great solution to the problem of textbooks increasing in costs every year and making it harder for students to get through school,” Cross said.

According to Cross, in 2010 N.C. State started a project to create an open physics textbook to serve about 1,300 students who take Physics 211 and 212, the book is offered free online but  can be printed for $40.

“The libraries spent about $1,500 to acquire the site license for the textbook and now each student is saving $300 to $400 a year, so you’re looking at tens of thousands of dollars of savings for students,” Cross said.

Cross said that due to the success with the Department of Physics, the libraries are searching for a new department, such as chemistry or biology, where they can implement this program. 

Catherine Warren, an English professor, said that although she cannot use e-books in the types of courses she teaches, she does support the idea of online textbooks.

“I do support the idea of e-books because they do bring down the cost of textbooks for a student, which is an increasing problem,” Warren said. 

Danny Ibrahim, a senior in biology, said that he does support the use of e-books because students save money.

“An e-book keeps you organized as well because all the information you need is in one place, you don’t have to carry a large book around and once you’re done with the course it saves you the hassle of trying to find somebody to sell your textbook to,” Ibrahim said.

Still, Nowlin said that, currently, there is not a great demand from students for the purchase of e-books.

“The licensing agreements for e-books usually last for only six to eight months and because of the price it isn’t being viewed as economically feasible compared to buying a used textbook, which is less than what an e-book costs,” Nowlin said.