Posts Tagged ‘textbooks’

The Problem with Textbook Access Codes

College Textbooks


You went ahead and did it. You ordered a brand new textbook, $189 online, because you needed the access code, that secret password under the scratch off that opens the gateway to online flashcards, practice quizzes, homework assignments, and everything you need to make it through this semester’s course alive. Only when you scratched off your ticket to an A, the letter and number sequence smudged, leaving you hopeless, and helpless, as you frantically called every customer service number, just to be told you would have to purchase a new access code for two-thirds the price of the textbook. Are you kidding me? Unfortunately, access code frustrations, including this scenario, happen to college students all of the time.

Recently, the Chronicle of Higher Education told the story of a business major and his fiancee who were taking a course together and had the hopes of sharing the same textbook ($150). This textbook, however, had an access code that like most other access codes, can only be activated once. As their college course required each student to have an access code to take part in online discussions as well as submit homework, and since the access code could not be sold separately, they were forced to purchase two textbooks. Once these codes have been activated, the textbooks become practically worthless in resale value.

In this situation, the activation code could not be sold separately, but even when they are, the cost to buy one is nearly the cost of the textbook. Students who purchase used textbooks and then purchase the code separately actually spend more than the students who just buy the new book. Then there’s the issue of the activation codes not being printed clearly, or being printed behind a sticker that peels off part of the code, in which case, students are just out of luck unless they want to spend more money getting a new code.

With students having to pay more for this additional content, and then being unable to sell their book from having used it, there is plenty of displeasure on college campuses for the activation code system. There are undoubtedly students who, when the online content is optional, will refuse to take advantage just to be able to sell the book back. When it comes down to getting the most out of your textbook, or having enough money at the end of the fall semester to fly home, a tough call has to be made, and education may not win. Students shouldn’t have to be put in this situation.

This also brings to question how much textbooks are truly worth. If the price of the activation code is nearly the price of the book, what are students really paying for? If the online content is so rich, then why can’t students just pay for the activation code and forget about the textbook? There will be students who have to make that decision as well.

eBooks Enter the College Classroom

E-books Enter the College Classroom


With the technology craze and increased use of tablets in high school classrooms, universities across America have also turned to new-age educational options. A new kind of textbook has been created called an e-book that students can read on the Internet, effectively saving them money and the hassle of carrying around large, heavy books.

Students and teachers at Cornell University, Indiana University at Bloomington, the University of Minnesota, University of Virginia, and University of Wisconsin at Madison took place in a pilot program in the spring of 2012. The study analyzed e-book projects and the commentary of those involved. While inventors expected the technology to take off, it has received mixed reviews during the tests.

“Students praised the e-books for helping them save money but didn’t like reading on electronic devices. Many of them complained that the e-book platform was hard to navigate. In addition, most professors who responded said that they didn’t use the e-books’ collaborative features, which include the ability to share notes or create links within the text,” according to an article in The Chronicle.

However, Bradley C. Wheeler, the vice president for information technology for Indiana University and the e-books’ creator, is optimistic that the attitude toward the technology will change with time.

“With technology, many things change with repeated use,” Wheeler said. “People have lots of early first impressions as they experience new things, and over time you will start to see things become more mainstream, as the technology improves and skills and even attitudes toward use improve.”

When asked, students reported that e-books did not help them improve interactions with professors or other classmates because they did not utilize the technology’s collaborative features.

The pilot program had six major findings:

- Only 12 percent of users chose to buy a hard copy of the e-book
- Lower cost and portability were considered the most important variables affecting students’ decision of whether or not to purchase eTexts in the future
- Students frequently mentioned devices’ functionality and the difficulties they had reading the text
- Faculty did not report using the enhanced features and voiced a need for more training to increase the potential for student-student or student-teacher collaboration
- Students voiced concerns about the inability to access the e-texts without an Internet connection.

The pilot program will continue to grow in the fall with twenty-four new universities joining the roster for testing.

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Choosing Between Buying or Renting Your Textbooks

Categories: College Life

College Textbooks


With recent college graduates struggling to pay their loans, the cost of college does not go unnoticed by today’s students. If there’s a way for college students to save a few dollars, they will! That’s why renting college textbooks is becoming a more popular trend. Textbooks don’t come cheap, and the return on them usually ranges between absolutely nothing, to nothing to brag about. According to press release earlier this month, Amazon will be join the likes of Barnes and Noble,, and Chegg to enter the college textbook rental market. The details reveal that if you meet the minimum requirement for purchases, or have an Amazon Prime account, the shipping to and from Amazon is free! For some students, renting textbooks will be a smart decision, but for others, it could be more of a problem. Check out these aspects you should consider before choosing to buy or rent your college textbooks.

Is Saving Money a Priority?

Barnes and Noble,, and eCampus advertise that renting your college textbooks could save you as much as 90% on the costs. While the discounts depend on the books, it’s still going to be far cheaper than the hundreds you would spend buying them every semester. Four years of renting would save you several thousands in college loans–no joke!

Do You Want to Own the Book?

There are some mandatory classes you will take that you know you won’t want to remember once you pass the final. There are also classes you will take where the things you learn are the foundation to every other class, and if you happen to forget something from it, you will struggle. You might have a class that you tend to reflect on for years because the things you learned from it, and from your textbook, directly relate to your job. Also, don’t forget about the oft-overlooked detail of scribbling notes, highlighting passages, and the countless other things students do to digest the material. In many cases, you’re not permitted to deface a book you’re planning to return without facing penalties charges.

How Much Time Do You Need?

Amazon specifically states that it will lend you your textbooks for 130 days. That’s a bit longer than four months, and between shipping it to and from Amazon, you’re looking at about four months even. Is that enough time with the textbook? Before choosing to rent, consider your time restrictions. You don’t want to rent it too early, and then find yourself having nothing to study with during your final exam.

In What Condition Do You Want Your Books?

Used textbooks can be a gamble. You might get a textbook with pages so shiny and with a binding so stiff, it’s as if it were brand new, or you might get a textbook with ripped pages, doodles, and the wrong answers filled out in the quiz portions! Before choosing to rent or buy, consider what condition you want your books to be in, and what condition you plan to leave them in, as there may be some restrictions if you rent.