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eTextbooks: Ways to Pay Less

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The simplest way to pay less for your eTextbooks (30% to 90% less) is by comparing prices. Store pricing can vary by $50 or more for the exact same digitally delivered product. With a simple search you’ll find who has the best price after coupons and Direct Textbook Cash Back are applied.

eTextbook savings tips

Use these tips to save money on eTextbooks.

  • Wait until the first week of class to see if you really need them. If you do, you can get them fast since they’re delivered digitally
  • Ask your professor if they have a desk copy or PDF they can share
  • If renting, know exactly how long you need access to avoid overpaying
  • Consider buying if you’ll need your eTextbooks for multiple semesters or want to keep them for reference
  • Compare eTextbook prices to physical books. Used and rental editions might actually be cheaper, and physical books have resale value (we make it easy to compare)
  • eTextbooks don’t always come with access codes, but you can look for standalone access codes to avoid buying expensive bookstore bundles
  • Double check formats to see if you can access your books from web browsers, mobile apps or an eReader you already own (you don’t want to have to buy a new device to read your textbook)
  • Join cash back programs (like ours), which can put up to 20% cash back in your pocket
  • Consider not buying eTextbooks at all, since studies show students learn better with print editions

eTextbooks VS print: Which helps you learn better?

eTextbooks offer convenience and savings, but they might not be the best mediums for learning. Multiple studies have shown that students perform better when they use print instead of digital textbooks.

In one study, students reported a preference for digital textbooks and even predicted they would comprehend digital content better than print. Though digital readers fully understood the central idea of a text, they didn’t recall key details as well as print readers.

Another study found that people who read from a Kindle device couldn’t recall plot chronology as well as those who read a print version. Yet another study discovered that digital readers miss important details when content is longer than 500 words, or about a page of printed text.

Researchers think the discrepancy could be related to digital distractions like scrolling and non-linear reading – essentially, skimming pages for contextual clues rather than the deep reading required for full comprehension. Students are accustomed to reading from screens, yet the performance gap between digital readers and print readers has increased since the year 2000.

All this suggests that eTextbooks might not be the best option for students who are serious about learning. It could be a reason why many students who buy digital textbooks also buy print editions, which means the best strategy for saving on eTextbooks might be to not buy them at all.

eTextbook FAQs

Here are answers to questions we frequently get asked about eTextbooks.

Should I rent or buy eTextbooks?

It depends on how long you need access. eTextbook rental is typically cheaper and grants limited-time access, often in 30-, 90-, 120-, 150- or 180-day blocks. Though it costs more to buy eTextbooks, purchasing is a good option if you want lifetime access to your books.

Can you print an eTextbook?

Publisher licensing might prohibit or limit printing. If you want to print an eTextbook, it’s a good idea to check terms and conditions before you rent or buy.

What devices do eTextbooks work on?

You can read eTextbooks on desktop and laptop computers, tablets, eReader devices like Amazon Kindle, and on mobile phones. They can be accessed via web browsers and dedicated apps like VitalSource Bookshelf. Note that compatibility varies, so it’s a good idea to confirm your books will work on your preferred devices before you buy or rent.

Do eTextbooks have text-to-speech?

Yes. eTextbooks typically offer accessibility features like text-to-speech, so you can listen to them like audiobooks, and adjustable font sizes.

Do you need to be online to use eTextbooks?

Many apps offer offline access, though you will need to be online to download apps and books.

Do eTextbooks come with access codes and other supplemental materials?

Some eTextbooks include access codes for online course materials, others do not. Physical materials like CDs and lab manuals typically aren’t included in the purchase or rental.

Find all the eTextbooks you need fast and save money with our free price comparison service. We automatically find and apply coupons, plus we offer a cash back program that pays you up to 10% on qualifying rentals and purchases. Start your search