Unfortunately, there is really no way to cut out this problem, but if you don’t want to carry around some ratty textbooks with you everywhere you go, there is the option to buy them in an electronic format. Not all books are available in this format, but if yours is, it is an option worth looking into. In addition, they do tend to be a bit cheaper than physical books.
Electronic textbooks offer a bunch of cool feature that real books just can’t match up with. To me, the most crucial one of these is the ability to search in the document. If you need to find the definition of a word, it is much easier to hit “Control + F” than looking in the index and flipping though hundreds of pages. eTextbooks also offer the ability to take notes, just like a real textbook, but they make it much neater than a physical book.
Ecampus.com’s eTextbook Store
Ecampus’s eTextbook store claims to have over 100,000 eTextbooks available. Their ebooks are rentals, so you have full access to the book for a period of 180 days. This allows the books to be a little cheaper than some other sites, but it is unfortunate that you do not own the book. Their books also work without any special kind of reader software, which is convenient since you don’t have to download anything else on your computer.
All electronic textbooks available on their site can also be read on the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. This is great for students who don’t want to carry their laptop with them, and still want to be able to study while on the go. They have a full search function that allows searching by author, ISBN, title, and keyword.
CourseSmart offers the same basic search functions as the previous site.
All of their books are viewed right in the browser, and they even offer the ability to read your books offline. When you know you are going to need to use the offline reading feature, you need to go to the “My Bookshelf” page and select up to three chapters that you would like to read later. They allow you to get access to 3 chapters from up to 5 books offline at a time.
CourseSmart allows you to preview and get a trial of any book available in their store. This is an awesome feature because if you are on the fence about whether you want to buy your textbooks electronically you can see how they work and if they are for you.
They also offer mobile reading on all Apple devices.
Textbooks.com’s eTextbook Store
As you would expect, this site also offers all the basic search functionality.
This was the only website out of the three that had the most current edition of the textbook that I am using for my Management class, which was a plus. CourseSmart had the book, but it was the earlier edition. Pricewise, it is a little cheaper than the physical edition on Amazon, and about half the price of the bookstore at my school.
Their store uses a couple of different formats for their books, and they are not browser-based, so you will have to install some software.
eTextbooks are still a relatively new thing. eBooks for entertainment have been around for a long time, but textbooks still haven’t caught on as much yet. They are worth checking into because they are typically a bit cheaper and they are actually more functional than their physical counterparts. The obvious drawback is the lack of resale value, but if you can get past that, and you like the idea of having all your books stored in one place, this might be for you.
Have you used Electronic Textbooks before? How was your experience with them? Let us know in the comments.