Textbooks and Digital Ownership

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When I started taking Spanish in January, I knew right away that I wanted to purchase the e-version of the textbook.  The textbook is designed to be used for 6 courses.  It’s big and heavy.  The ebook cost over $100 less and was weightless.  Sold!

I purchased the ebook noticing that it would only work with an iPad in the fine print.  No problem I thought, as I had been planning on using my iPad in class and for studying.  I was also required to purchase access to Supersite, an online service accompanying the textbook that contains exercises, tutorials, videos, practice exams, etc.  With Supersite, I could also access the textbook from any device with an internet connection.  A classmate asked me for how long I would retain access to the electronic textbook.  Since I had paid full price for the ebook-Supersite combo, it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t actually own it.

Challenge #1 – After investigating, and contacting the company several times, I discovered that I could only download and use the textbook on my iPad.  When I read that in the fine print, I didn’t realize there would be no option to download, or move the file, anywhere else.  The textbook download looks like an app, even though it’s just the book.  The real benefit is that I can access the textbook without an internet connection.  With my paid subscription, I can access the textbook through Supersite for 3 years.

Challenge #2 – I purchased my iPad in 2013.  Although it still works perfectly, it’s one of the models Apple has decided to discontinue servicing.  In the near future, I won’t be able to update my iPad and eventually it will become obsolete.

At some point, I will have to figure out what to do with my unsupported iPad and the Spanish textbook, leaving me with 3 options:

  1. Purchase a new iPad and transfer the textbook over, along with everything else.
  2. Purchase a new non-iPad tablet, but maintain the old iPad just to access the textbook in the future.
  3. Purchase a new non-iPad tablet and pay for the textbook in print.

This was definitely an unanticipated dilemma of purchasing the e-version of the textbook, but I think it’s one that as consumers, we will have to get a lot better at navigating.  I purchased the book, but I don’t “own” it.  In reality, I’m paying to access it, unless I go with option #1.

1 comment for “Textbooks and Digital Ownership

  1. Irene Gelyk
    25 July 2017 at 08:47

    …I love the newer iPad. If you do purchase a new one, consider donating your older one. Check out “Waste nothing” here in Toronto.
    http://wastenothing.ca/items/853

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