The Future of Book Buying

By and

Publishing companies have started to release e-books with the hope that tech-savvy students will move away from the large volumes to a slender metal sheet that will contain all the works of Shakespeare or chemistry equations depending on what you study.

McGraw-Hill has released 225 e-books in the last year, most of which cover introductory courses, and are available on their Web site, www.mcgrawhill.com.

The publishing company targets professors directly with the new product that costs 35 percent less than the suggested retail price of print books.

“The reception to it right now is not extremely high,” said Textbook Representative Bob O’Brien.

He blames the dearth of sales on portability.

“Students are not totally aware of them, and basically a lot of them are not too thrilled about reading 1,000 pages on a computer screen,” he said.

Companies are now working on creating a thin metal reader that looks like a thin book that will allow students to underline, highlight, write in margins and keep their places like any other book.

O’Brien expects the e-book boom to hit higher education in the next three to five years.

But there is a catch.

Publishing companies will create textbooks that only one student can use, in essence, killing the used-book market.