Tech-savvy students, as well as those looking to save a few bucks on their textbooks, are taking advantage this fall of a budding program through the Barnes and Noble Gorilla Bookstore at Pittsburg State University.
Fawn Chesnutt, manager of the bookstore, said more than 230 textbook titles are available as e-books this fall. E-books are downloadable to a PC or Mac laptop, and can be significantly cheaper for students.
"We've been trying to explore more ways to give students options when it comes to purchasing textbooks," Chesnutt said. It's an option that's rapidly growing in popularity: two years ago, the store made about $100 in e-textbook sales. Last year, that number jumped to $8,000.
In the basement of the bookstore in Overman Student Center, shelves line the room, stacked with books for every course. Stopping in front of a row of books, Chesnutt compared some options. A new book that cost $100, for example, could be purchased used for about $75. A digital version of the same book would be around $60, Chesnutt said, and a rental would be about $50.
E-textbook rentals stay on a student's laptop for 180 days and there are also some restrictions on the number of pages users can print off in a month.
Chesnutt said e-textbooks are becoming increasingly popular with students for their convenience and price. She speculated that by 2015, e-textbooks could constitute 20-25 percent of the store's sales. Although Kindles and Nooks are popular devices for reading novels and books for pleasure, Barnes and Noble has explained that e-textbooks are complex and graphic-intensive, and that they do not display well on small screens.
"I have parents call me all the time and tell me they're thinking about buying their college student an e-reading device and they want to know what I recommend," Chesnutt said. "I tell them those devices are great, but not for school textbooks. All they need is a laptop."
Students who wait to purchase books until they know if they truly need them for a class are also finding the e-textbook option to be ideal, Chesnutt said.
"I had a student who told us he had a test to study for and it was a Sunday night, so he couldn't get into the bookstore to purchase a book," she said. "He went to the website and ordered the e-textbook and had it in minutes. Having options like this is right for students."
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