Amazon and eTextbooks

Amazon and eTextbooks

The idea of using e-books for textbooks was a very important one when the Kindle was first becoming popular.

The potential for real improvements was there: not only in interactive and more accessible materials, but in reducing the weight that students had to carry from class to class.

When the larger Kindle DX was introduced in 2009, part of the announcement was a partnership with major textbook publishers. Clearly, the thought was that colleges, universities, and others, could start using e-textbooks on a mass basis.

Unfortunately, that effort hit a major snag when there was a challenge to the accessibility of the device. Sure, e-books were better for the print challenged than paperbooks…but the argument was that they were even better for sighted students (who had access to search capabilities, for example, that the print disabled did not have), making their use inequitable.

That stalled the momentum (and may have led to decreased sales for the Kindle DX).

Times, though, have changed.

The Fire tablets are much more disability friendly than the Kindle DX was. They have audible menus, and even “explore by touch” which can tell you what you are touching on the screen.

For more information on the available features, see

Accessibility for Fire (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I was pleased today to get an e-mail from a representative from Amazon, outlining some of the advantages of eTextBooks from Amazon. I was given permission to share it with you:

Hi Bufo –

Hope you’re well!

As Winter Break ends and college students head back to school (with new gadgets in tow), purchasing textbooks for spring semester classes is now top of mind. I thought your readers, especially parents of college-aged students, would be interested in learning about the benefits of going digital this year with Amazon eTexbooks – students can save money, read their textbooks at any time across multiple devices, and take advantage of interactive features to help make studying easier.

With options to rent, buy or try for free (up to 80% off print list for rentals between 30 to 360 days and up to 60% off purchases), eTextbooks give students the flexibility to spend money where they want. Not to mention students can take their entire library wherever they go without lugging physical books around campus – with the free kindle reading app (at AmazonSmile*), students can conveniently access their eTextbooks from any device, including their tablet (Fire, iPad or Android tablets), smartphone (iPhone or Android), PC or Mac.

I’ve outlined some of the study-friendly features students receive when using eTextbooks below, including digital notes for easy reference, multi-color highlighting and Flash Cards to jog your memory after each chapter.  Or, if you’d like to see these features live, check out the Study Smarter Not Harder videos here.

Let me know if you have interest in covering or if you have any questions.


Study Tips Made Easy with eTextbooks

  • Multi-Color Highlighting – Are you one of those students that highlights every sentence in their textbooks? With multi-color highlighting on your eTextbook you can organize categories and sections by color and save all your highlights in Notebook for easy reference
  • Digital Notes — Notebook for eTextbooks displays all your notes, colored highlights, saved images and bookmarks in one place. You can mark and filter your most important concepts to organize when it’s exam time – it’s like a digital scrapbook for your studies. Notebook is available on Fire HD tablets, iPads, and Android tablets
  • Flash Cards – Just finished a chapter and already can’t remember what you read? Flash Cards allow you to quickly review all the terms, concepts and definitions in each chapter with an easy to use interface
  • X-Ray – Get everything you need with a single tap, including definitions, related pages and even relevant content from other sources like YouTube and Wikipedia
  • Swift Navigation — With the swipe of a finger, quickly navigate through pages and chapters of eTextbooks to find the section you are looking for
  • Whispersync Technology — Synchronizes your last page read, bookmarks and annotations across all of your devices so you can always pick up where you left off

Learn more about Amazon’s eTextbooks here (at AmazonSmile*)with details on study tips.

There are other features that can help students (although not necessarily with study, specifically):

  • Onboard dictionaries
  • Wikipedia lookup
  • Web lookup
  • Translation
  • Free public domain books
  • Text-to-speech and those  accessibility features on the Fires

and more.

Teachers can also do some interesting things. They could make public notes available, and students could view them.

There have been fits and starts with schools using eTextBooks. California mandated use of them in some situations (partially because they are so much cheaper). Some schools have issued them to students (and Amazon has donated some., a charity about which I’ve written before, gets them to students in difficult situations where trucking p-books (paperbooks) into the schools might be impractical.

I don’t expect p-textbooks to disappear any time soon, but I do think we will see eTextBooks share of use increase over the next few years.

What do you think? Are you using or have tried to use eTextBooks? If so, what did you think? What was the best thing about doing it, and what were the challenges? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

2 Responses to “Amazon and eTextbooks”

  1. Zebras Says:

    I remember when I went to college some of the kids crying in the college bookstore over the cost, and how would that ask their parents for that much money. Now I think everyone is already numb from the cost of tuition by the time they get to that point. Sounds like eTextbooks will make studying a lot more efficient for today’s students.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Zebras!

      Textbooks certainly were expensive in paper. One reason for that was that they were frequently re-sold, so the publishers were sort of building into the first purchase price those future re-purchases…that’s my understanding, anyway. Another reason was the high cost of updating them. Both of those issues are alleviated with e-books.

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