EBooks Are Rarely a Good Deal, Now You Can Pay a Ton for Them to Spy on You!

Recently a pilot program was announced that discussed how eBooks can now  track you to see if you did your homework or not. In effect, eBooks now can  record what you do and how you do it while you are suffering through a long  reading assignment.

Sadly the Chronicle showed that eBooks only save students $1 versus buying a  new textbook, but this is only part of the equation. eBooks, unlike traditional  textbooks, have zero – that’s right NO resale value for students, rendering them  worthless at the end of the semester. Unfortunately for most students, buying  and selling books online can save them up to 95% of their textbook costs, versus  the small savings that eBooks actually offer.

Now there are benefits of eBooks, including enhanced and interactive content,  but for most students and especially in light of today’s rapidly increasing  costs of higher education, students need to save more than ever. The reason that  publishers are really embracing eBook content is simple – they eliminate the  secondary market that has cut into their profitability for years. Every time an  eBook is sold, the publisher gets their piece of the sale – with traditional  books, the publishers only get revenue when the book is sold – new. With eBooks,  they can dramatically increase their profitability.

Since the publishers will be making more money, one would expect the costs of  eBooks to drop, but once publishers have access to this new revenue source, will  the costs fall? Simple economics dictates that when there is more adoption of a  product, the costs come down to make it more attractive to a wider piece of the  market. However, the textbook market is “broken” because the purchaser – the  college student – is not the person that makes the buying decision – the profess  / University. Being told what book to buy has always put the publishers in a  wonderful situation – at least for them. Textbook costs have risen by 800% in  recent years, demonstrating that they are all too aware of this marketplace  characteristic.

Now there are reasons why textbook costs are going up. Publishers must pay  for talent to write their books – do we really want our students using  educational materials that are sub-par? No. Costs of transportation and  materials have increased too. My point is that there are rational reasons to  justify the increase in prices, but these incidental costs do not account for  the massive increase in textbook prices over the past year, and students should  expect this trend to continue.

As for the eBook, as the publishers promote and move students away from the  textbook, the secondary market gets eliminated and soon, students – if you are  not careful – may be spending $1000 per year on devices that tattle to your  professor on you.

Derek Haake is the founder of CampusShift.com, a community that helps students save on  textbooks by comparing prices with its textbook search engine, and also the only  community that has a local and nationwide student-to-student textbook  marketplace. Mr. Haake founded Campus Shift after he went back to school to  pursue his MBA and JD, and after earning them devoted his full time to the  company, which started in January of 2011.

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