An online retailer could take a bite out of the university bookstore business, and university students lugging around a bag full of books could become a thing of the past.
"In more recent years we have adapted into the digital world by offering e-books, access codes, and those are available for students," Judith Grandy, assistant manager at Saint Mary's University Bookstore in Halifax, said Thursday.
"It's not as dramatic an impact … that people may think it will have, because we've been through a few other offerings and competitions from external the university market and we survived those fine," Grandy said.
Sales at the university's bookstore are only down by five per cent.
"There's price resistance. Students are becoming savvy at finding materials in other formats. So, I wouldn't say that it's just because of digital books," Grandy said.
This week Amazon.com announced the launch of Kindle textbook rentals at savings of up to 80 per cent. They aren't available in Canada yet, but it's likely only a matter of time until they are.
Peggy Cunningham, dean of management at Dalhousie University in Halifax, wrote two of Canada's top selling textbooks.
Her books retail for about $160, while an e-book version is available for rental on CourseSmart at 60 per cent off.
"For students, I think it can be a really good idea," she said.
"Hopefully, it doesn't affect authors' revenues and we will sell, hopefully, more books, not fewer books, because we've had electronic agreements in our contracts for a long time. So if there's an electronic edition of your book, then your authorship is protected."
Cunningham said the faculty of management is moving in the direction of having all of its materials available electronically, in part to reduce the use of paper.