E-textbooks program launched at 5 Cal State campuses

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Textbooks these days can bend college students’ backs — and break the bank. On a pilot basis, the California State University system has launched courses that will only use electronic textbooks.

It’s not unusual for a typical Cal State student to spend nearly $1,000 each year on books. Under the new program, says Cal State spokesman Erik Fallis, students pay a third of a book’s cost as a content licensing fee, "so they can view it on their iPad, their iPhone, their laptop, other computers at a computer lab and various other reader devices."

Students can even write in the margins.

Cal State’s monitoring the program on five campuses for 32 courses that include math, political science, and business. The pilot program began this week and last at Cal State Long Beach, Fullerton, and Dominguez Hills. Depending on how it works, administrators will decide later how to expand the use of e-textbooks.