Judging an ebook by its price

(Edmonton) University of Alberta students may soon be storing some of their usual backpack contents in their personal online space.

The University of Alberta Bookstore has joined forces with Campus eBookstore, which has partnered with Google eBooks to provide students an option that allows them to buy textbooks and other course materials in electronic form.

Wayne Anderson, associate director of the U of A bookstore, says the new service provides students with a choice that is more accessible and affordable.

“It is a great tool for students who want to have access at all times to their books,” Anderson says. “Let’s say a student is going home on break and wants to study, they could have their electronic library available to them because their eBooks are securely stored online. They no longer need to haul their books with them wherever they’re going.”

Students using the service can download copies of books they’ve bought to their laptops or other electronic reading devices, and also have copies in a virtual library that can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection..

The U of A’s Google eBooks database currently holds more than 250,000 titles and is growing, Anderson says. “There’s everything from academic materials to bestselling fiction.

“This is another option for students who may be looking for alternatives to traditional hard-copy books sold at the bookstore. It may be cost- and time-effective for some students because, at times, the electronic versions may be cheaper than hard copies,” he said.

But the benefits of the new service extends beyond students to faculty, some of whom may wish to have their published works listed in Google eBooks.

“If a faculty member decides to write a book and doesn’t want to use the traditional methods of publication, there will be an opportunity for that researcher to publish their books electronically, set their price point and have it available online,” Anderson says.

Anderson says the new service helps keep the university in step with developing technologies. “Today’s campus bookstores are competing everywhere; whether in store or online, and we need something that will allow us to provide a service in the eBook market. Until now we did not have the option to provide students an option to buy electronic books,” he said.

“Our marketplace is changing so fast, and our students are experiencing technological advances faster than ever. Our primary goal is to make sure that students get what they need now and prepare them for the future.”