Indiana University announced this week that it has chosen a new digital textbook platform. As part of its eTexts initiative, it has signed a deal with Courseload, an Indianapolis based company, to support IU’s digital textbook initiatives.

The university has also signed deals with textbook publishers for volume purchases of digital textbooks. Students on all IU campuses will be able to order digital textbooks from Wiley, Norton, and Flat World Knowledge and then read those textbooks using Courseload.

“IU’s model ensures that students will benefit from the cost savings and educational possibilities of eTexts and other online materials as their preferences shift to a blend of digital and print,” IU Vice President for Information Technology and Kelley School of Business professor Brad Wheeler said, adding that this agreement gives IU faculty new options for lower-cost, high-quality course materials.

While this new program will save students money, there is also a catch. The eTexts model utilizes a mandatory fee to obtain its substantial price advantages. If a given class uses a textbook offered by one of the participating publishers, the university will compel the students to participate. Also, the students may not actually be getting a discount here (compared to used and rental textbook prices), but that is a matter for another post.