Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Renting and buying used textbooks cheaper than e-books

There is a perception that digital textbooks should be cheaper than printed ones.  From what I have seen and understand, not only is this not the case, but there is typically good reason.  For one, the print and distribution costs are not 50-75% of the cost of creating a book, despite expectations or perceptions.  Not that there is not room for further supply chain or production efficiencies, but frankly, just because it is electronic does not mean it will cost less.

To back up this observation, a recent study by CampusBooks.com reports that renting or buying a used textbook was cheapest for 91.6% of the top 1000 textbooks for back-to-school. The other 8.4% of the time, e-books were less expensive -- somtimes significantly so.

On a separate note, while something of a press release, the story does point out (once again) the importance of stores being a part of price comparison.  We know students engage in price comparison, and that the trend to do so is increasing.  If stores do not participate in such comparisons they are out of the equation from the perspective of purchasing decision.  

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