E-Textbooks: Friend or Foe?

As a college student, I can say that I know firsthand just how expensive textbooks can be. Most of us are on a tight budget, as tuition, food and housing really tend to take a toll financially. We’re constantly on the lookout for cheaper alternatives, and e-textbooks are viewed as a godsend. They’re usually much cheaper than buying a physical copy and much more convenient since most of us are always on our electronics, anyway. The rising popularity of e-books has had quite an influence on textbooks, along with the expected novels and other pieces of literature. They offer an easy way to save money and access material from, say, a laptop or a smart phone. Not to mention many students are concerned with the environment, and e-books cause less damage as they are not made of paper, therefore they save trees.
On the other hand, however, electronic copies can also be less convenient. Some lack the appropriate features to highlight, bookmark, and so on. It’s also more time-consuming to go back to a certain page or to flip from one page to another. Physical copies would be, in that situation, easier to navigate. Students are also able to carry it to class when need be, which, needless to say, is more difficult when the book is digital.E-books also have the tendency to cause headaches and eye problems, as looking at a screen for too long may lead to health problems. According to a study, 92% of college students prefer physical copies of textbooks, but choose to buy e-books because they’re environmentally-friendly and cheap.
So as a college student, the question to ask yourself is: is it worth it to make a textbook only available digitally just to save a little money?



2 thoughts on “E-Textbooks: Friend or Foe?

  1. nastashatorrez February 17, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    This topic is definitely a debate I have with myself every semester. I usually go with the online copy as I can usually access the information for free or for little cost of an e-book. What I found interesting is the idea that e-books are necessarily better because they save trees. I just read an article by Daniel Goleman and Gregory Norris called “How green is my iPad?”. This article goes into the process of making an e-reader and how it isn’t as ecologically friendly as one might think it is. However, they go through and dissect the book making process as well. Something to consider reading for sure.


  2. chadprom February 18, 2015 / 6:53 pm

    I really think it depends on which class the book is for. For example, I prefer to have the books for my major specific classes (math intensive) in physical form. I need to be able to flip through the pages of a tangible book, highlight and write notes, flip through the pages quickly. I can use an e-book on my desktop, lap-top, or kindle which is super convenient. However, I can’t imagine myself ever buying an economics or statistics e-book. I need to interact with that sort of text. E-books are great options for classes that just require reading text, with little need for interaction.


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