NASHVILLE, Tenn. (TSU News Service) – Tennessee State University will be on the digital cutting edge this fall semester when it begins offering electronic textbooks as part of a book-bundle initiative aimed at lowering the cost of traditional “paper” books.
The plan, announced during the recent Tennessee Board of Regents meeting held at the University June 20, will allow freshman and sophomore students to buy “e-books” for general education classes, saving students between $435 to $735 per semester.
According to Dr. Alisa Mosley, associate vice president of Academic Affairs, a large number of students enrolled in classes repeatedly do not purchase textbooks due to lack of funds, delay in receiving funds, or simply hold back on buying them for weeks.
“Many of our students would go weeks before they even purchase a textbook, which in turn hurt them in the classroom,” said Mosley. “This new program allows students to have books the first day of class and gives them the ability to be successful since they will have the required materials.”
Under the new program, students will pay a flat fee of $365 per semester that is included in their tuition and fees, and have access to the required digital textbooks for classes taken. The fee includes all textbooks in the general education core for students taking 12-16 semester hours. For students who want print copies of books, they will be available for an additional $15-30 charge.
“The savings are incredible to our students,” added Mosley. “The average cost of books alone ranges between $800 to $1,100 per semester. We are meeting the needs of our students and giving them the necessary tools to be successful. Studies have shown that students who have their books are more engaged and more successful when they have access to materials and do far better in their academic career.”
Electronic books, or e-books, are gaining popularity among college-aged students and educators, including those at TSU. While e-books currently account for only 6 percent of textbook sales at university bookstores, that number is growing, but primarily in certain disciplines.
TSU is unique in the fact that the University is offering e-books for all general education classes, and it is the only university offering the book-bundle initiative in the Tennessee Board of Regents higher education system.
“When we started this project, we were told by numerous book publishers that this had never been done before,” added Mosley. “This was a massive undertaking to implement. We specifically decided to go with the digital books not only as an alternative to more costly traditional paper books, but also to meet students in the digital age.”
Like many students today, Lauren Thomas uses her mobile tablet to not only stay connected, but also read everything from the newspapers and magazines to checking her email and scrolling through the Internet. It’s a device that the TSU Mass Communications major can’t live without.
“These mobile devices are always with us, so the idea of being able to read your class assignments directly from your tablet is a great idea,” said the SGA vice president. “I only wish we had this program when I was an underclassman.”
Thomas recently had the opportunity to demonstrate the e-books to members of the Tennessee Board of Regents during their two-day meetings at the University, showing them the ease of using a mobile device or tablet for reading textbooks.
“They were very impressed with how easy it was for students to navigate the system, from signing in, to reading and highlighting text,” she added. “I think they saw the need and the value in the initiative.”
The book-bundle program will be implemented in two phases this fall starting with freshmen and sophomores taking general education courses. Phase II will include juniors and seniors and focus on upper division and core courses required for their majors.
The program, according to Mosley, is already receiving attention from other institutions.
“Some of our sister institutions are already asking how they can implement the same program,” said Mosley. “We really are on the cutting-edge with this program. We want to remove any barriers that would impede students from being successful and this is just another way TSU is on the forefront of higher education.”