Amazon has entered into the eTextbook race with their own product. The textbooks may or may not match the print format of the book. Amazon has the unique feature of having a variable rental period. When you buy the book, you can choose to rent it for any period between 30-360 days. Once it has expired, you can extend the rental or you can purchase the book. All of your notes and highlights will remain in the book. Amazon offers a 7 days return period on all textbooks. Notes and highlighting will sync across multiple devices. Amazon credit card users will get points for eText purchases. There are a huge number of titles available through this service. Free Sample: select book samples provided, seven day sample while your traditional textbook is being delivered. Chegg started as a traditional textbook rental company. They have since expanded into eTextbooks. They have a neat feature.
If you order a paper book from them, you will get access to that title as an eTextbook while the book is being shipped out. This way, you are ready for class while you are waiting on your book. All of Chegg’s eTextbooks need an active Internet connection for access. This can be a down side if you are in an area with no coverage or if you do not want to use up your data. Like the others, it includes note taking and highlighting features. Chegg runs a homework help section on their website. This means some extra assistance for any Chegg user. Apple began offering textbooks with the advent of iBooks 2. These texts are built specifically for the iPad. These eBooks can include 3D imaging, interactive pictures, galleries and study notecards that can be reviewed. Books 2 includes the same note taking and highlighting features that are in the other programs. Apple has created their own textbook design software and is hoping to lower the prices on texts. 20.00. At this time, the titles are primarily for K-12.
I haven’t seen any textbooks in iBooks that have an equivalent paper copy, however, they do make good companion books if you are struggling with a topic. Hopefully more college level titles will become available. VitalSource is another eTextbook provider that has a huge selection of eBooks. It is a great place to look for any of your required textbooks. To read VitalBooks you will need a VitalSource app on your computer or tablet or a web browser that can access their site. You can have the book installed on two different devices. Like Inkling, the formatting of the book is unique to this provider. It is not identical to the printed text but does include page and chapter numbers that match the book. I find that I really prefer the apps that have built the book format to be that of an eBook. They are much easier to read and browse when they look more like an eBook and less like a paper book.
VitalSource is able to search all of your textbooks at once from their apps. This makes it very easy to find information when you need it. VitalSource is able to print limited numbers of pages from each book. The limit varies by title. Just like other eTextbook programs, you can copy, paste, highlight and take notes in VitalSource. Prices are very similar to those of Amazon Kindle textbooks. Some schools are connecting this provider to their distance learning web apps like Angel or Blackboard. Coursesmart is one of the original eTextbook providers. They have been around for many years. Campus is using Coursesmart to sell eTextbook services. You can use either site to get to the same materials. For the most part, you must have Internet access to get to your textbooks. Coursesmart does allow caching limited portions of up to five textbooks on your computer or iOS device for reading offline. See below for a chart of what is available online versus offline. Note taking and highlighting are supported.