Could E-Textbooks overtake traditional college books?

The average college student now-a-days spends between $600 and $800 a year on textbooks.

In some majors that number jumps to between $1,200 and $1,400, according to the director of Western Illinois University's bookstore.

But could students soon be shopping for cheaper electronic books?

KHQA's Jarod Wells asked that very question.

Last week McGraw-Hill, a text book publisher, launched four of its biggest selling college text books in e-text for for the iPad.

Which means students can pay a fee and download the entire book or just chapters.

WIU University Bookstore Director Jude Kiah said, "E-text is something that I think eventually will take over the market."

But Kiah says there are a number of problems that will have to be dealt with before that happens.

Kiah said, "First of all, most people are used to the modality of pages and searching through pages and actually having the page in their hand."

He says many professors are not able to teach out of e-text yet. He thinks it will take at least a generation for e-text to take over the classroom.

Kiah said, "So what it's going to take is the generations moving forward you only have an e-book and you're only use to that."

Which means students would have to buy some sort of reader for the e-books, like an iPad.

Let's compare prices. One business e-book costs $112.99 for six months use. The hard copy costs $214.50 new and $161 used.

We checked a biology book that costs $72.99 as e-text. That same books is $106.25 as a new hard copy and $79.75 used.

So e-books may be cheaper, but remember one thing. You cannot sell the e-book back once you are done with it.

We also asked students what they thought about e-textbooks for the iPad.

WIU Junior T.J. Cowell said, "If I became more familiar with the iPad and that stuff it'd be something I'd utilize. If I did have one it would definitely be something I'd look into."

WIU Senior Mike Regan said, "I think it's something interesting, but I probably won't ever do it. I'd rather just have a regular textbook personally."

Jude Kiah says some publishers do not want to reduce the price of books to sell them as e-books.

And another problem standing in the way - the threat of e-books getting copied and republished once they're put online.