Saving money with digital textbooks

I understand that for many the addition of a new technology seems counter-intuitive as a cost savings device. But think about ebooks like hybrid cars, compact florescent lights. The hybrid car gets so much better gas mileage and that new energy efficient light will save electricity that you can end up saving money over time, not that you should run out and get a hybrid car or new bulbs, but if you were about to replace your car or lights it would be a good thing to look at. That is kind of how you have to start thinking about electronic books and devices. Yes, a good ebook device that will allow students to interact with the text, such as by highlighting, margin notes, bookmarks, and interactive dictionaries will cost close to $100, and if you are thinking about adding that as an extra it is a cost increase and once you multiple it by some number of students it can be a big cost. But, and this is a big but, what many people don't realize is how often textbooks are replaced. The standard textbook is usually on a five year cycle of replacement. So that this year's new textbook is good for four more times, then it gets pretty worn out, along with the issues of currency of content - does your science book mention that Pluto is a planet or something else, and how is the Soviet Union doing?    Then to there are to accidents that happen to textbooks, getting wet is a common one. One other thing that many forget is that public schools have been paying for those books, I see this shock at the campus bookstore every year for students who have just come from public school and now have to pay for books - they can be quite expensive. Often the textbook used in a high school can easily cost $100, and the average college student is now spending close to $1000 a year on books and supplies.

So now lets look again at the cost situation. If we buy an ebook reader device for the student to use, then we are looking at a cost of about $100/student, and if we also buy a textbook then that would be another $100/student, making it more expensive to have the ebooks than just textbooks, and I would expect that an ebook device would also only have a usability life in schools of about 5 years. But what if the textbook was free, then it is a zero cost change to switch from a printed science textbook to a digital science textbook, although you will get a weight savings of about 8 or 9 pounds that the student won't have to carry on their back. Then, what if we also switch from a printed math textbook to a digital math textbook that is also free?  That would be an additional cost savings of $100/student, meaning that there is an overall textbook savings - money back into the system for other things. The CK12 ( book resource that is mentioned in the article has the full set of math and science textbooks for middle and high school, with 36 different math books and 35 science texts, along with some others such as US History, Composition, and SAT prep. CK12 textbooks (or flexbooks) are available from their site, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.  CK12 also isn't the only online resource that is putting out digital versions of textbooks for free.

Schools in Texas look to free digital resources amid budget woes
Amid ongoing budget constraints, many Texas teachers are turning to free online resources to enhance instruction in the classroom. Educators are using sites such as, originally designed to provide content for students in impoverished nations, as well as instructional videos posted online by the Khan Academy. Other resources include the Google Art Project, which features images from museums all over the world. The Dallas Morning News (subscription required) (12/5)


  1. Minneapolis school district saved about $175,000 of tax money by writing their own textbook. The savings can be used to provide tools, such as, iPads to students. FlexBooks, of course, can be downloaded for free., visit for details. Online education is a potential goldmine of learning we are sitting on.

  2. very nice blog i have found here to read and to get enjoy about hids and Saving money with digital textbooks so thank you for sharing it with us

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