Over the past year, seemingly everyone has decried college textbook costs, which have soared to an average of $700 to $1,000 per student each year. Many of these critics have pointed to online digital textbooks, which typically sell for half the price of print editions, as an affordable alternative. But a sharply critical report released Aug. 25 asserts that commercial publishers are going about the digital textbook revolution the wrong way, reports the Los Angeles Times. Commercial e-textbooks are no cheaper than hard-copy editions when you take into account that students can sell print books back to the bookstore for half the cover price, according to the report, released by a national coalition of student public interest research groups. And restrictions on printing and online access make commercial e-books unfeasible for many students, the report said. "Right now, publishers are on a crash course with e-textbooks," the report said. "They are expensive and impractical for a large portion of the student population." The report was based on a survey of 504 students from Portland State University and the City Colleges of Chicago. Fifty commonly assigned introductory textbooks were also reviewed. Perhaps the report’s most surprising finding–at least to parents who can barely peel their college-age children away from their Facebook or MySpace pages–was that only one-third of students said they were comfortable reading textbooks on a computer screen. Three-fourths said they would prefer a print textbook to an electronic one if the costs were equal. The report said commercial publishers, however, have made it cumbersome and expensive to print out digital texts. "Biology," 8th edition, from Pearson publishers, sells for $173, and the e-book goes for $86.50. But buying and printing out the text would cost $211.87, the report said…

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