2011 Back To School Guide: The Top 5 E-Textbook Apps

evolveteam August 17, 2011 0

Words by Dante Hutchinson

Who enjoys carrying textbooks to class? Answer: Rhetorical. Yet every year most undergrads go through the same backbreaking routine. And once the semester’s complete, they end up stacking these monstrous hardbacks onto their overcrowded stockpile, or end up wasting their efforts trying to sell it back at the campus bookstore (or online) for less than half the original value. But you can kiss those painfully excruciating days goodbye. Going into the Fall ’11 semester, students can save themselves some greenbacks, and a trip to the chiropractor, by downloading these eTextbooks apps onto their smartphones, tablets, or computers. So bypass the physical copies this school year and run with its digital counterparts instead.

 VitalSource Bookshelf

This digital textbook platform encompasses over 60,000 downloadable titles from publishers like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and the Oxford University Press that can be easily found using the app’s user-friendly search engine. All highlights, notes, and book titles stored on your Mac- or Windows-based computer, or online account, can automatically be synched to any Apple-compatible device. In addition, you’re given the opportunity to share notes with other classmates. And you can zoom in on pages and jump to specific areas of a book by page number or table of contents.

 Download at the iTunes Store, FREE


What makes Know so awesome? It’s the first service to offer its entire bookstore (over 100,000 books) on a Facebook app that can be accessed via iPad and computer. Create a digital notebook and transfer highlights, images, and stickies. Also, take instant quizzes using the “Quizme” feature, which creates practice exams based on any textbook. View high-fidelity pages with crystal-clear text and pick up titles at 30-50 percent off the original listing price.

 Download At the iTunes Store, FREE


If you’re looking to stay memory conscious with your iPad, and don’t really need to download an entire eTextbook, Inkling lets you do the next best thing: download chapters. Oh yes. The iPad-exclusive app also eliminates the need for menus by integrating a universal search bar to look up notes, chapters, annotations, search history, and more. All of Inkling’s content is crafted specifically for Apple’s tablet, making good use of the 9.7-inch touchscreen and producing high-res images, along with sharp audio and video.

 Download at the iTunes Store, FREE

 CourseSmart e-Textbooks

Download eTextbooks onto your iDevice or Google OS gadget and view content in landscape or portrait mode. Gain access to 90 percent of CourseSmart’s library (on or offline), plus run searches on specific topics or take the shortcut route by looking up a title’s table of contents. There’s also an option to scan for images, tables, graphs, and charts, too. Students can also shop for books priced at 60 percent off using a specialized version of the CourseSmart website.

 Download At the iTunes Store, FREE

 Download at the Android Market, FREE

 Amazon Kindle

The online retail giant offers its popular eBooks app across all mobile and tablet platforms, and plans on integrating eTextbook rentals—giving students the chance to save up to 80 percent and catch up on required readings on the go. On top of that, you have complete access to a surplus of books, newspapers, and magazines for research purposes, as well as Facebook and Twitter integration, automatic page synching between devices, and a page number display that provides a more authentic feel. Best of all, rental periods range anywhere from 30 to 360 days.

 Download at the Amazon, FREE