Kindle and Nook Etextbooks Review
In recent years many thousands of textbook titles have been translated into digital format. Etextbooks are certainly cheaper than the list price of printed college texts, but you don't buy or rent a Kindle etextbook or a Nook etextbook to save money. Given the discounts on new, used, and rental copies available through online textbook vendors, frugal students may want to stick with the conventional options -- never mind that a good hunk of required reading has yet to be digitized.
There are plenty of reasons, though, to go digital. You don't have to lug around a heavy textbook. You can highlight and take notes in the text to your heart's content. There are no delivery problems and nothing to return or sell back at semester's end. And, some etextbook vendors provide apps and ereaders that support powerful elearning aids.
In the digital textbook market, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble have so far stayed close to their ereader roots. Each sells etextbooks based on the popular Kindle or Nook platform but with one critical difference: you don't need a Kindle to read an Amazon etextbook or a Nook to read a Nook etextbook from Barnes & Noble. Each vendor offers a free app that lets you access thousands of etextbook titles through a PC or Mac; with the Amazon etextbook app, you can also read on an iPad, Kindle Touch or Kindle Fire and other mobile devices. You have the option of buying or renting a Nook etextbook and an Amazon etextbook, and marketing materials for both state that purchase prices are up to 60 percent less than full list price for hard copies, with greater savings for etextbook rentals. The necessary apps are free with the purchase/rental of an Amazon etextbook or a Nook etextbook.
There's little razzle-dazzle with Amazon etextbooks or Nook etextbooks. Those compatible with the Kindle app are basically scanned versions of the book, although you can take notes in the etext and highlight and bookmark important passages. You can also synchronize your progress across all your electronic devices. A student who posted an Amazon etextbook review appreciates the portability of the digitized product but prefers the usability of print (flipping through sections, for instance, is far easier). And, as an Amazon etextbook review by Wired points out, trying to take notes on a Kindle keyboard is no picnic. The first chapter is free so you can weigh the pros and cons of the etextbook format, and there's a short 7-day return period in case you change your mind or drop a class. Amazon lets you rent an electronic textbook for anywhere from 30 to 360 days, and you get to "keep" your highlights and notes after the etextbook expires (i.e., the rental period ends).
Barnes & Noble made its name as a textbook retailer and now stocks many thousands of electronic titles. To access a Nook etextbook, just download the Nook Study app to a Mac or PC. (Interestingly, the Nook Study app isn't compatible with the Nook itself because Barnes & Noble maintains that textbooks are meant to be read on large screens, not small.) As with Amazon etextbooks, Nook etextbooks are scans of the print version that you can mark up, search, and annotate. According to Nook etextbook reviews on the company site, students value the organizational gains that come with electronic texts. The company lets you try out select titles for a week at no cost so you can decide whether renting or buying a Nook etextbook is right for you. If you do opt in, you can download the Nook etextbook to two computers (e.g., a laptop and desktop) so you have access whether you're at home or away and online or off. An enhanced version of the app lets you print pages and copy text. Note, however, that you won't get supplementary materials, like a CD, that accompany print copies.
Chegg recently introduced an etextbook reader that works on Internet-connected devices running Explorer 9, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome browsers. Like the Amazon and Nook etextbooks, you can search, highlight, bookmark, and take notes in the text. Plus, the Chegg etextbook reader lets you see highlights created by other students.Textbook Prices by CampusBooks.com
Other Recommended College Textbooks
This textbook site does primarily one thing, and does it well: low prices on textbook rentals for durations ranging between 30 and 125 days. Some users gripe about customer service but the free shipping in both directions has its appeal.Read more »
Textbooks.comThis company boasts an enormous inventory of used textbooks and a buyback policy that promises at least half of what you paid and an extra 10 percent to customers who bought the book from the site. For the most part, students consider this a dependable online vendor. Read more »
This all-purpose site gives you the choice to buy a new or used copy or rent; it recently launched an etextbook reader for Internet-connected devices. Generally well-liked by users, some grumble about problem deliveries and excess charges.Read more »