Another College Try for E-Textbooks

Last week the Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ) reported that ten colleges are experimenting with selling textbooks in e-Book format. I don’t think that 33% off for an e-Book that can’t be printed or transferred to other users or machines, and stops working after 12 months, is a compelling value proposition. Sony’s Librie in Japan certainly didn’t get much take-up trying a similar self-destructing DRM. And the economics here are even worse: given the high and readily-obtained residual value of printed textbooks, buyers of the e-book format would in effect be paying more for less. But it’s an interesting datapoint that the experiment is being tried, and another sign that despite the burst of the e-Book hype bubble in 2002 the embers are still burning.

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