Students and universities dream of digital books, but will it happen?

Tablets have been in every vision of the future I’ve seen. Imagine replacing your 20-pound textbook-loaded backpack with a 1.3-pound tablet.

Digital textbooks will make this possible. Digital textbooks also offer a world of potential beyond just words and pictures.

Students everywhere have been dreaming about this. It’s time to make the dream come true.

Though digital textbooks would be a dream come true for students everywhere, students and universities have a few obstacles to overcome:

Cost to students

Developing digital textbooks can cost more to develop, so they would have to sell to students at a higher price, right?

Well, let’s look at apps.

Some apps are overpriced, but iPad apps tend to be much cheaper than their desktop equivalents. For example, Adobe just came out with a version of Aacrobat PDF creator for iPad for $10. Do you know how much the desktop version costs? $300… and that’s for the “standard” version, not the “pro” version.

What about tablets?

Tablets cost money, too. However, a tablet lasts much longer than a textbook. On multiple occasions I’ve seen Android tablets running for $70. Refurbished iPads are cheaper than you think.

But still, not everyone wants to buy a tablet

Digital textbooks aren’t limited to tablets. Amazon makes the Kindle as a device, but Kindle books are accessible on other systems like Windows and Mac.

Consistency and availability

Course material has to be accessible to all of the students. It would also be considered unfair if there was material in one version of the textbook that wasn’t in others. Even now, professors have to use a standard by specifying which version of a publication is used in their class.


Change is always hard. But I’ve taken several classes that used a course website instead of a textbook, and it was wonderful. Just imagine how amazing it would be if all classes offered real digital textbooks.

Let’s get ahead of the game and make digital textbooks happen.

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