STUDENTS AT SOME UNIVERSITIES may be carrying fewer textbooks this fall if a new digital project takes off. The Universal Digital Textbook Program, launched by MBS Textbook Exchange, will begin offering textbooks in PDF format at 10 college and university bookstores across the country.
"This is a natural progression for us," says Virginia France, marketing director at the Princeton University Store, an independent bookstore on the Princeton (N.J.) campus. "We believe that digital textbooks are the wave of the future. We don't think they'll replace textbooks, but we want to offer students the opportunity to get them if they want them."
Ten titles will initially be offered from publishers such as Houghton Mifflin, Wiley, McGraw-Hill, Thompson Learning, and SAGE Publications, says France. And, although print versions of the books will still be available, the lower price of the e-books may attract students.
"We'll be selling digital e-book cards for one-third less than the cost of a print book," says France. "The card is activated at the register with a code, then the student logs on to a website, enters the code, and downloads the book to their computer."
The e-books are encoded with DRM (digital rights management), which places strict limits on their usage. …