E-textbooks to change SA universities

2013-02-06 13:21
University students may be able to save money and improve study with the release of an e-book platform specifically for tertiary education. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

University students may be able to save money and improve study with the release of an e-book platform specifically for tertiary education. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - University students may be able to save money and improve study with the release of an e-book platform specifically for tertiary education.

Van Schaik Bookstores has launched a new e-textbook offering for students, and unlike simple PDFs that copy the book's pages.

The platform can be used with devices running popular operating systems, but does not specifically cater for e-readers.

"The e-books that Van Schaik sells can be read on any internet enabled device online and can be read off-line with the relevant version of the free Vitalsource Bookshelf app. Available in iTunes, Google Play or for Windows/Mac," Melvin Kaabwe, digital manager of Van Schaik Bookstores told News24.

Students at university can spend thousands on prescribed books, but Kaabwe was quick to point out that the e-books was not always cheaper as would be expected.


"The price of these e-books are not always on par with the print book prices. Most of the e-books we currently sell are cheaper than the print versions; some are on par and some are more expensive than the print equivalent. An e-book is a different product than a print book as it has some unique functionality that is not available in print books."

The e-books though, do offer the advantage in that annotations can be made in them and the Vitalsource Bookshelf platform supports multimedia content.

"The use of colour is a strong advantage in defining and teaching concepts that require differentiation based on appearance and motion, so this is very useful in the Sciences and Business," said Kaabwe.

Like regular e-books, the titles can be accessed offline, and synchronises across multiple devices and computer platforms.

"Users can access the book even when they are not near their computer by using a smart-phone or tablet device. This is particularly useful for many SA students that do not have ready access to computers at home," Kaabwe said.

Van Schaik has around 800 e-books available from LexisNexis, Juta, Wiley, and Elsevier and will add Oxford University Press publications shortly.

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