Kindle, the wireless reading device from, is certainly an amazing device and one that was a long time coming.  Now eBooks have been around for a long time prior to Kindle’s introduction, but Kindle truly raised the bar by being wireless and completely portable.  Let’s face it, what’s the advantage to downloading a book if you have to haul around a computer to read it.  Even in a best case scenario you’ll be using a lightweight laptop, but unless NASA built your battery you’ll still have to be plugged in to read for more than a few hours.  At just over 10 ounces, Kindle is far lighter than a laptop with a much longer battery life.

Kindle was so sought after that when it was released in November 2007 it sold out in less than 6 hours.  Amazon couldn’t even keep the device in stock until this summer, and with good reason.  Kindle has few flaws.  It allows it’s users to buy and download books in less than a minute, it allows users to download blogs, newspapers, and magazines, it can hold over 200 titles allowing you to take a virtual library with you wherever you go.

But what does this mean for college students?  Right now Kindle is not geared toward textbooks.  It lacks many of the basic features that a student would need to make it a worthwhile expense.  Kindle currently lacks the ability to take notes, highlight or print a page.  In addition, the Kindle’s graphics are not really up to the standards that you would need to see a diagram in great detail.  Finally the acquisition cost is pretty steep for a college student.  Starting at $340, many students are already struggling to pay for the books they need and this additional expense would require the textbooks to be really cheap to make up the difference.
Kindle is a great device for the avid reader and has all the features they would require but a new version would need to be created to really attract students.

By: Dan Russell

So in our last post we spoke of the many good reasons why you may want to consider buying an eBook instead of the new or used textbook, now it is important for you to see the whole picture to understand what disadvantages the eBook may have.

In some estimates the cost savings are not great enough, especially when you consider the overall value of the textbook.  How you calculate this is up for great debate and many students have had personal experiences which will alter how they choose to fill in these numbers.  In the beginning of the semester you pay cash up front for your books.  At the end of the semester during buyback your books have a retained value.  For an eBook to be worthwhile the total cost to the student (purchase price minus retained value) must be less than the physical book price.  Let’s use a best case example.  If the new textbook costs you $100 and you get $50 back for the book at the end of the semester your total cost to own that book is only $50.  If the eBook costs you $60 at the beginning of the semester and you can’t sell it back at the end of the semester, you paid $10 more to own the eBook and you have nothing to show for it in the end.

As a student you can probably see where the debate starts and ends.  How much are your books worth?  If you think your books won’t have any buyback value then an eBook is a good bet.  In the best cases scenario listed above you are getting top dollar back for your book.  How often does that happen?  Different experiences will lead to different answers.

Other things to consider when buying an eBooks is will you print your book?  Does the book have a subscription limitation?  Do you have access to your computer all the time? The answers to these questions will differ for each of you but you should know what you are getting and how to use it.

I have been working with eBooks for over 3 years now and the truth is they do have a place in the market.  Many students do find value in them and find them easy to use.  Don’t just write it off because it is different.  Talk to others who have tried and maybe give it a try yourself.  You may be surprised at how much you like it.

by: Dan Russell