CSU ramps up e-book push

Tim Goral's picture

Buying textbooks can be a major hit to a student’s wallet, so the state’s largest higher education system is trying to use technology and a bit of leverage with publishers to lessen the financial blow.

Under a California State University program launched last year, students can rent steeply discounted electronic versions of textbooks at the system’s 23 campuses through campus bookstores or online.

The number of titles offered under the Rent Digital program is set to grow from the initial 5,000 when it launched last year to an estimated 45,000 by the fall. More students and professors also are embracing the program, which guarantees a 60 percent price cut on popular textbooks.

Officials say the rental program saved students around $1.5 million in its first year, and they estimate that if one-third of CSU students opt to rent a $100 textbook instead of buy it, the savings would total $17 million a year. Bookstore managers say on average it costs about half the price to rent a $100 textbook electronically.

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