Electronic Textbooks

E-books are being widely adopted as alternatives to traditional textbooks. Here you'll find articles detailing new developments in the area of e-book and e-textbook technologies, along with stories about institutions adopting them.

Cengage Expands Subscription Service

Cengage is making its Cengage Unlimited digital course materials subscription service available to more students through a partnership with Follett. Beginning this fall, the service will be available at Follett's 1,200-plus campus store locations as well as online. 

MERLOT Updated for Mobile OER Hunting

MERLOT, the granddaddy of open educational resources developed by the California State University system, has entered its third decade of operation with a new facelift. The project, as always, provides a gateway to OER. But with its newest release, search functionality has been expanded and coding has been done using responsive web design to make it mobile device-friendly.

Unizin Partners with McGraw-Hill Education for Inclusive Access Program

Unizin, the nonprofit consortium of 25 member universities, has teamed up with McGraw-Hill Education to combat the high cost of textbooks. The deal will make the company's digital learning materials available to nearly 1 million students through an "Inclusive Access" model, which automatically provides students with their course materials on the first day of class for a low, flat fee.

New Digital Textbook Company Includes Audiobook Versions

The digital textbook market has a new entrant. Lead Winds has launched two digital textbooks on an online platform with chapter-by-chapter access to the written textbook, an audiobook version, videos that teach the chapters, slideshows and extra videos of students and instructors sharing study notes and tips for each chapter. The cost: $35 per student.

U Missouri System Gets 38 Percent Discount on McGraw-Hill Education E-Books

Students in the University of Missouri System have access to more affordable course materials, thanks to a new agreement with McGraw-Hill Education that lowers the cost of the company's electronic textbooks by 38 percent. The books will be offered through the university's AutoAccess program, which provides e-books through U.M.'s learning management system as part of its Affordable & Open Education Resources initiative.

McGraw-Hill Education Launches Textbook and E-Book Rental Program

College students may be able to save as much as 70 percent off their textbooks through a new rental program from McGraw-Hill Education. Starting this spring, the company is offering rentals on more than 250 of its copyright 2019 titles, plus all future titles, through its e-commerce channel on the company website as well as through approved distributors.

Macmillan Learning Intros Curated OER Course Materials

Macmillan Learning is launching a new course materials product that brings together open educational resources, instructor supplements and on-demand support. Dubbed Intellus Open Courses, the materials are curated by the company's subject-matter experts and editorial team and cost just $14.99 per student per course.

Blackboard LMSes to Add Day-One Access to VitalSource Catalog

Shortly, colleges and universities that use the Blackboard Learn or Moodlerooms learning management systems will also be able to offer "day-one access" to digital curriculum for their students, through an agreement between Blackboard and VitalSource. Under the terms, faculty will be able to select content from VitalSource's catalog of digital textbooks and make them available to students on the company's digital textbook platform through their LMS from the first day of class.

Bundles and Access Codes Destroy Efforts to Cut Textbook Pricing

The practice of faculty relying on bundled textbooks and, specifically, access-code materials to provide course problem sets, quizzes, tests and case studies, has wreaked havoc with student efforts to find cheaper textbook alternatives. According to a new report from the Student PIRGs, among a sample group of schools, 45 percent of these supplemental resources were unavailable from any source other than the campus bookstore. As the report's authors noted, the use of those bundles, which exist behind paywalls, eliminates the ability of students to "shop around," which means they're "forced to pay full price for these materials." They also can't resell their textbooks because the access codes typically have expiration dates.

Knewton Releases $44 Adaptive Digital Textbooks

Ed tech company Knewton has launched a collection of digital courseware that integrates its adaptive technology with open education resources, with the intention of selling directly to instructors and students. Previously, the company licensed its adaptive functionality to textbook publishers for integration with their course content. Under the new strategy, the company noted, it could own "all aspects of the user experience" and "make a greater impact on outcomes and affordability." Each title in the new line costs $44 for two years of digital access.

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