Amazon is expanding its share of the e-book industry by offering discount textbooks, but it does not offer the same features as other products on the market.
The Internet retail giant says the digital editions, which were released Tuesday, will be up to 60 percent off the original price when purchased, or up to 80 percent off when rented.
This puts it in competition with Barnes & Noble and Apple, which already have e-textbooks.
Currently, Barnes & Noble only offers textbooks for its NOOK Study app, which is only available on PCs and Macs. It is impossible to use the NOOK to view these e-books without illegally altering coding.
While Apple and Amazon will both offer e-textbooks, the companies are selling the content in different ways.
In January, Apple announced its partnership with McGraw-Hill, Pearson and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to create “Multi-Touch” textbooks for iPad.
These e-textbooks feature imbedded movies and infographics instead of pictures and diagrams, whereas the Kindle versions will be static, or similar to a print textbook but without the weight and formatted to size.
The Kindle version will be able to highlight and add post-its and bookmarks, like it already can with its regular e-books. The NOOK Study app also offers those same options.
Another distinction between the iPad and the Kindle is in its basic hardware. The iPad, with a 9.7 in. diagonal display and 264 pixils per inch, offers a larger and crisper view than the Kindle Fire, it’s closest competitor, which is a 7 in. display and 169 ppi, which may be preferable to some students.
Despite the iPads additional features, many college students may opt for the Kindle Fire because of it’s price; the Kindle Fire is roughly half of that of an iPad.
NOOK Colors and Tablets are in the same price range as the Kindle Fire. While they do not support textbooks right now, some speculate that they will in the near future, especially since Microsoft pledged $605 million to NOOK products.
Regardless, some students may simply opt to continue buying print textbooks.
Lindsay Laird, a senior environmental policy and planning major, said she would only go the electronic route for her textbooks if they were significantly cheaper.
“I would buy the (print) book because it’s easier to mark on and read,” she said.