Archive for April, 2011

Are libraries your best bet for textbooks? Turns out, maybe not.

Borrowing textbooks from the library sounds like a good idea. With all of the talk (from me included) about the high cost of textbooks, borrowing has been heralded as a smart and free alternative. It’s part of the reason CampusBooks added the ability to search library inventories to our mobile app last year: if students can get a book for free, by all means, they should.

But that theory only works if the library actually has your book, and doing a little digging showed that often times, unfortunately, that’s not the case.

I called around to some libraries near major colleges, both on and off campus, to see whether the advice to borrow, not buy, was sound. Unfortunately, more often than not, the response came back negative.

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Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech Talk: eBooks and Digital Readers 

Los Angeles Times Technology: E-book Sales Triple from a Year Ago, Now Top-Selling Book Format
 “E-book sales are piling up fast. In February, a couple of months after huge numbers of readers got electronic reading devices for the holidays, sales of e-books reached $90 million — more than tripling the number from a year earlier, according to the Assn. of American Publishers. Although that number was still smaller than sales for all paper formats combined, it outstripped any single print format — hardcover, trade paperback or mass market paperback…” 

Publishers Weekly: Kobo Gets $50 Million in New Financing
“E-book and e-reader retailer Kobo has received a financial shot in the arm with $50 million in new financing, including $13 million from its majority shareholder Indigo Books and Music, Canada’s largest book retailer. Kobo said the balance came from “leading institutional investors,” which it did not identify, and Cheung Kong Holdings, one of the original investors in Kobo when it was spun off from Indigo in late 2009. As a result of the new investments, Indigo’s ownership has decreased somewhat, but it maintains its controlling interest at 51%…” 

PRnewswire: CourseSmart Launches the First eTextbook Application for Android Devices
“CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials, further expanded its mobile footprint today with the launch of CourseSmart for Android 1.0, a mobile application specifically designed for the Android Operating System (AOS). Students and faculty across the country can now access all of their eTextbooks on their AOS-enabled smart phones, netbooks and tablets. “Increasing demand for mobile access to eTextbooks coupled with the exponential growth of Android-run devices has led to record numbers of students and faculty embracing mobile devices across their institutions,” said Sean Devine,

CEO of CourseSmart…”

International Textbook Editions: A cheaper alternative?


If you’ve done any searching for cheap textbooks, you’ve probably come across international editions as an option. A lot of people are confused as to what international editions are, or even if they are legal to buy, so here are some answers to the biggest questions about the international editions of your textbooks.

Are international editions legal?

First, buying international editions from overseas is entirely legal. In a Times article titled Outsourcing the Textbook, Claire Suddath said that “it’s legal for students to buy them for personal use, but illegal for anyone to resell them outside of their intended country.” This means that while the individual selling the book is breaking copyright law, the buyer is not. So far, there has been no crackdown on these sellers, and online retailers like Ebay and Amazon are placing the responsibility on their sellers to adhere to any applicable laws. Long story short, if the seller will sell it, then you’re free to buy it.

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Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: Tablet Times
BusinessWire: Intel Capital Invests $20 Million in Kno
“Intel Capital, Intel Corporation’s global investment organization, today announced a $20 million investment in Kno Inc., an education software company. The investment is part of a $30 million Series-C round led by Intel Capital, which includes participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Advance Publications, First Round Capital, FLOODGATE and SV Angels. Kno will use the funding to develop its innovative educational software solutions for multiple platforms, including Intel® architecture. ‘The increasing consumption of digital content has primed the textbook market for disruption, creating an exciting opportunity for technology innovation to fundamentally change the way 1.4 billion students globally learn,’ said Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president…” 

NPR: Cheaper Than A Tablet: ‘Rooting’ Your E-Reader
“What if you could buy a tablet with a slightly smaller screen than the iPad for half the price or even less? Hackers have been turning e-book readers into tablets for cheap Internet on the go. In fact, San Francisco hacker Mitch Altman doesn’t read e-books on his Kindle at all. He only uses its Web browser to access maps and restaurant listings when he’s traveling. The Amazon Kindle has 3G data connectivity so that readers can download e-books anywhere there is cell service. As many Kindle owners know, the device can connect to Google and Wikipedia to look up things mentioned in e-books, too. That connectivity is all the opportunity hackers need to turn an e-book reader into a tablet…” 

Bloomberg: to Sell Kindle Digital Reader With Ads for $114
“ Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, unveiled a $114 version of its Kindle electronic-book reader that requires customers to view ads in exchange for getting the lower price. The new device, called Kindle With Special Offers, costs $25 less than the current lowest-priced model, the Seattle-based company said in a statement. It will be available May 3 at Best Buy Co. and Target Corp. stores, in addition to Amazon’s site. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is counting on the Kindle, unveiled in 2007 for $399, to capitalize on digital-book demand. With the new approach, he gains a bigger price advantage over rivals and opens an additional source of ad revenue…”

Protect your investment: Be wary of Textbook Thefts on the rise


For students, keeping tabs on where your cell phone is or locking up your laptop with a handy desk lock is common practice in the library. But what about your textbooks? Textbook theft is a rising concern for students across the nation. It may seem odd, but when you consider that textbook prices continue to rise (and so do sites paying money for those books), textbooks themselves are becoming high-risk items. Like the common practice of stealing and reselling bikes, stealing textbooks and selling them back to the bookstore or online retailer can turn a quick buck, and with some textbooks valued at hundreds of dollars, it is an appealing offer.

Take, for example, University of Virginia student Stephen Lambert, who in 2010 was charged with grand larceny for stealing nearly $20,000 worth of texts from the campus bookstore and reselling them on Not to be out done, this year in Tennessee a student was arrested and now faces a class B or C felony charge for stealing approximately $60,000 worth of books and attempting to sell them to local pawn shops.

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Guru Roundup: This Week’s Most-Relevant Industry-Related News

Tech-Talk: eBooks and Apps Continuum Launches eBook Store
“Independent publisher Continuum has launched an e-book store, featuring a selection of titles across Continuum’s humanities, education, and religion lists. Around 2,000 titles will be available for download in Adobe PDF and ePUB formats on the platform by the end of April, with that total expected to rise to 3,500 titles by June. The publisher plans to release the majority of its frontlist titles on the store simultaneously with print edition publication. The store is currently open to individual customers, with the publisher planning to offer packages aimed at academic institutions from the end of June…” 

PRnewswire: XanEdu Announces New Version of Industry-Leading iPad App for Higher Education
“XanEdu, the leading faculty-preferred provider of custom course materials and textbooks, announces the release of its new XanEdu iPad App version 1.5. Advanced collaboration features and search capabilities enable students to study smarter, save time, and improve team collaboration. The new version is available now for free download in the App Store…” 

PRnewswire: The Princeton Review Releases SAT® Score Quest™ App for iPad
“The Princeton Review, a national leader in education services and test preparation, today announced its SAT Score Quest App for iPad is now available on the App Store. SAT Score Quest is built upon The Princeton Review’s 30 years of expertise in preparing college-bound students for the SAT while leveraging the large, high-resolution display and Multi-Touch capabilities of iPad…”

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