E-books are increasingly getting popular these days. Many people use Kindle, iPad or some other e-book readers to read their e-books. E-books are usually cheaper than printed books. They are light-weighted (of course, except the weight of a hardware) so that you can carry hundreds of e-books in one device. You can buy (download) and read it in a few minute without waiting several days for shipping or going to a bookstore. Oh, don't forget that you can easily search a term or topics and that you can, in some e-book readers, take notes and print them.
What about e-textbooks, then? What are the benefits of e-textbooks in addition to general benefits of e-books mentioned above? One benefit of e-textbook would be that e-textbook is easier for customization.
According to a news report of The Chronicle of Higher Education, many textbook publishers provide "build-a-book" option, which allows instructors to mix and match chapters of books, articles, and case studies into a customized e-textbook for their class. And it is expected the price of the customized e-textbook would be cheaper than a printed book with the same customized content.
One reason publishers like customization according to the news report is that customized books are difficult for students to sell as used copies, unless they sell to other students taking the same course from the same professor.
However, students may rent a customized e-textbooks in future at low prices without having to buy one. For example, a press release from CourseSmart, the world's largest e-textbook provider, says that CourseSmart's e-textbook rental program has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education for $1.1 Million. The e-textbook rental program, called STudent E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP), aims to improve low-cost access to higher education e-textbooks for all students, including those with print-related disabilities such as blindness or dyslexia.
So, in a few years, you may see that many students rent a e-textbook, which is customized just for the class. Will it really happen? I guess it depends. But for sure, technologies are changing education.