Most college students—more than 80 percent, according to a survey by Educause—already own portable machines that can display electronic textbooks: They’re called laptops. And more than half of all major textbooks are already offered in electronic form for download to those laptops.
What the textbook industry needs is the equivalent of an iTunes store for e-books, say some experts, who note that sales of digital music never took off until Apple created the iPod and an easy-to-use online music marketplace. That’s why Amazon seems like a promising entrant.
He has heard about Amazon’s plans for a new Kindle for textbooks, but he said he isn’t likely to invest in one. “I already have my laptop, and there’s only so many things you can carry,” he said, adding that he regularly types notes during class on his laptop. “I wouldn’t sit there taking notes on a Kindle, that’s for sure.”
Publishers are eager to go digital in hopes of eliminating the used-book market, as buyers are prohibited from reselling electronic books, argues Albert N. Greco. a professor of marketing at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Business who studies the textbook industry.
So plenty of people are watching whether Amazon will succeed in raising awareness, becoming the go-to spot, and reshaping the whole textbook market in the process.