Parents face hidden costs with eBooks that can't be rented
THE eBook revolution in schools is throwing up hidden costs for parents.
There is a growing use of eBooks in classrooms -- but they cannot be used for rental schemes that schools operate to keep expenses down for parents.
At the moment, it is estimated that between 3pc and 5pc of the school market consists of eBooks, but by 2015 that will have risen to 25pc, and by 2018 it will be 50pc.
For Junior Cert years, parents can expect to pay about €700 for a package providing a student with a three-year licence.
In order to spread the costs, some schools have worked out financing deals with local credit unions.
But principals say a big drawback is that the licensing deal is not-transferable to another pupil.
In contrast, schools operating rental schemes with traditional books can pass them down and expect to get more than just three years out of many books.
National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) president Donal O Buachalla warned that it was putting schools off investing in new technologies for rental schemes.
The obstacle comes as Education Minister Ruairi Quinn is actively encouraging greater use of book rental schemes as a way of saving money.
Rental schemes can save parents up to 80pc of the cost of buying new books, which could reduce the annual bill for hard-pressed families by hundreds of euro every year.
Electronic books are seen as a boon to teaching and learning, because of the interaction they offer to pupils, who can use them to access extra content such as videos.