Here’s the True Value of Digital Textbooks (Infographic)

The excerpt blog DT>Digital Textbooks pointed me at the following infographic. It's quite simple and it actually contains only one data point. It's something I knew but had never put together before: the rental cost of a digital textbook vs media subscriptions.Students can get a Spotify and Netflix subscription for about the same cost as a single Coursesmart digital textbook. One the one hand, ~$20 gets them access to tens of thousands of songs, movies, and TV shows, while on the other hand they get a single textbook.Gee I wonder which is the better value?


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I know that this is an overly simplistic example but it is still mostly true.

About Nate Hoffelder (11579 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

5 Comments on Here’s the True Value of Digital Textbooks (Infographic)

  1. Yeah, it’s simplistic alright.

    The infographic compares mass market with niche market. What is sold on the mass market will always be cheaper than what is offered in a niche market. It’s basic economies of scale.

    For example $40.00 might buy you 4 mass market paperbacks, but only one hardcover.

    Is this a rip-off? Not to the person who loves hardcovers.

    Now, a legitimate argument could be made that textbooks are overprice and milking a captive audience. But this is not the way to make it.

  2. Yep, this is definitely an apples and oranges comparison, but that doesn’t make coursesmart’s digital textbooks are an amazing value. They’re a very poor value, when compared with second-hand marketplace alternatives. It’s usually more expensive to rent a digital book from coursesmart than it is to BUY a used hard copy of the same book from Amazon’s marketplace. Plus you can sell the hard copy back when you’re done with it.

  3. If you read the blog post that accompanies the graphic, you’ll see an acknowledgement that it is not pure apples-to-apples. But think about the student’s perspective. It’s not just that the scale is out of whack (40k vs. 1 in terms of title selection), it’s also the complete lack of choice for textbooks – where other markets have migrated to a point where the consumer has some choice involved.

    Do you think a student thinks ‘that’s ok, it’s a niche market; I should have no choice and forget my concept of value for digital content’?

    Simplistic, yes. Apples-to-oranges, yes. But worth considering from a consumer’s point of view to see just how broken the textbook market is.

  4. Perhaps a smart prof could just glean lessons all from films and Nova episodes on Netflix and skip the book entirely. And have a party with all the cash the class saves in a term. 😉

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