CourseSmart Brings eTextbook Subscriptions To iPhone, iPod Touch

A new service and free iPhone application is set to bring e-textbooks for students right to their fingertips. CourseSmart is a service that allows students to “rent” ebook editions of over 7,000 textbooks. The application allows them to view these textbooks on their iPhone or iPod touch, and could have a significant impact on the textbook industry as a whole.

The new applications, free for subscribers to CourseSmart LLC, will let students access their full electronic textbooks, read their digital notes and search for specific words and phrases.

“Nobody is going to use their iPhone to do their homework, but this does provide real mobile learning,” said Frank Lyman, CourseSmart’s executive vice president. “If you’re in a study group and you have a question, you can immediately access your text.”

CourseSmart accounts are free, and students can “rent” ebooks for 50% (on average) of the cost of printed editions for the same books, but in a format that they can easily carry around in their pocket. Rented editions expire in 180 days after they were purchased and resale is not permitted.

CourseSmart, which was created in 2007 as a joint venture of six higher-education publishers, including McGraw-Hill Education and Pearson PLC’s Pearson Education, operates on a subscription model. Typically students rent a book for 180 days; when their subscription expires, they lose access to the title.

The company, which doesn’t release financial results, offers its digital books at about 50% of the retail price of the corresponding physical textbook. Although students can’t resell their e-textbooks, Mr. Lyman said they typically don’t get more than 50% of what they paid for a new book when they resell it.

You can grab CourseSmart in the App Store as a free download (subscription required on a per-book basis).

[via WSJ (subscription required)]

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