eTextbooks VS Regular Textbooks

etextbooks vs regular textbooks

Most students refer to additional study materials such as textbooks rather than depending on just the teacher to increase their knowledge about the subject or the module they are learning. But some of these materials, especially textbooks can be expensive – making them not affordable for students.

Physical textbooks can cost a lot – even loose-leaf textbooks these days can cost from 50-100$ for some subjects. However, eTextbooks which you can get from the same vendors cost way less – saving students over 50-80% of money spent on textbooks.

What are eTextbooks?

what are etextbooks readable in digital devices

Etextbooks contain the same content as regular textbooks do but in digital format – meaning there is no physical textbook. You can access the eTextbook from your digital devices such as smartphones, laptops, or ebook readers. Students can purchase or rent eTextbooks from the same vendors such as Amazon, VitalSource, and more.

However, some etextbooks only allow one download for a device and have limits on devices that can be used to access the textbook. Etextbooks are more suitable for college students since they will allow them to save more money on textbooks – especially if they rent eTextbooks instead of buying textbooks.

Benefits of e-Textbooks

Compared to physical textbooks, eTextbooks hold many advantages just like any other regular ebook. Here are some of the benefits of e-Textbooks over textbooks.

1. More Affordable

Regular textbook prices can vary from 20-300$ per book – where you can get the eTextbook of the same textbook for less than half the cost. This will help college students access textbooks without spending more money over time.

2. No Delivery Delays

When you purchase a textbook from a vendor like Amazon or VitalSource you have to wait until the book arrives at your doorstep to start referring it. However, eTextbooks are delivered to you on the same day of the purchase meaning no more delivery delays.

3. Purchasable Anytime

Some textbooks have a lot of demand – which means some vendors run out of stock in a small period of time. With eTextbooks, you don’t have to wait until restocking of the textbook you want. They can be purchased at any time since there is no limit to copies of textbooks.

4. Free Textbooks

Libraries have a ton of textbooks in many subjects – but you need to have a membership to access those books. There are a lot of websites that offer OER or Open Educational Resources like free textbooks online for students which are downloadable at any time.

5. Space Savers

Etextbooks are downloadable and stored in digital device storage – this is especially useful for students who live in dorm rooms. Stacking up books can take up a lot of space in a dorm even with space-saving strategies used. Using eTextbooks will save some space in your dorm room.

Drawbacks of E-Textbooks

Compared to regular textbooks that are physically available to purchase or rent – there are some drawbacks in e-textbooks which we listed down below.


Different eTextbook platforms may use different file formats, requiring specific software or applications to access the content. So the student may get an unusable file format – or the student will have to get another software to use the given eTextbook format.

Reduced Engagement

Physical textbooks often include interactive elements such as highlighting, underlining, and writing notes in the margins. While some eTextbooks provide similar features, the experience may not be as intuitive, potentially reducing engagement and interaction with the material

Eye Fatigue

Reading from a screen of your device like a laptop or smartphone for extended periods can cause eye strain and fatigue. This can affect the reading experience and the amount of information that the student will be able to grasp from reading the eTextbook.


Since most e-textbooks applications that don’t allow offline downloads will require internet access – it opens the way to many distractions such as social media, notifications, and more. This can take the student’s focus away making it more difficult to grasp the content of the textbook.

The Conclusion

Etextbooks vs Regular Textbooks will be a question that every student will ask themselves when purchasing textbooks online. Etextbooks have many advantages over physical textbooks like costing much less, and free online textbooks availability but have a couple of disadvantages as well.

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