From Inside Higher Ed comes an article about how some university presses are experimenting with extending the concept of textbook rentals to ebooks: “For example, instead of buying a paperback or e-book for $20 at the Stanford University Press website, students and scholars can pay $5 to access an e-book for 14 days, or $10 for 60 days.” Other presses offering similar rental programs include the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, and Ohio University.

The article says so far, none of the presses are making much money with ebook rentals, but that the real goal is to help get books into the hands of students who can’t afford to buy them, as well as to get students to start thinking of ebooks as a viable option.

While the writing on the wall says digital texts and e-readers are the future, the numbers on the balance sheet say most students and scholars are not choosing digital over print—at least not when it comes to serious reading. E-book sales have risen for a number of university presses in the last six months, but as a percentage of total business they remain in the low- to mid- single digits at most presses.

“E-phemeral E-Books “ [Insider Higher Ed]
(Thanks to Michael von Glahn!)

(Photo: teclasorg)


  1. One has to consider the eBook offering. Is it DRM crippled (expires, can’t be printed, disallows select-copy-paste, etc.) the cost as compared to it’s pBook equivalent. Most of the eBook offeringsI’ve seen so far are poor bargains so I am not surprised to read that the uptake has been underwhelming.

  2. I agree, Frank. The one time I experimented with such a thing, it was as you describe: the DRM expired the book when the course was done, you could not copy and paste, you could not even search it properly. And it was only $15 more for the paper book, and $20 more for a combo pack of the ebook AND the paper book. Why not pay the extra $15 and at least you get to keep it? There was no benefit to the ebook since I could not search it, copy and paste into message board discussions or do anything extra with it…

  3. is one such web portal providing textbook online on rent in India. KopyKitab easy surf web site provides students an opportunity to select textbooks and rent books at a very low cost. A student can find a textbook by its title, name of the author or ISBN number. Kopykitab currently have engineering textbooks and very soon launching medical textbooks, pharmacy textbooks, management textbooks and textbooks of other streams. Students can rent text books of different streams at very low rentals. Online library space is all set to gear up in India owing to the reduced cost of i pads and because of the very fact that a student saves huge amount of money because of very low rentals.

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