Sunday, June 10, 2012

Traditional Textbooks versus eBooks

By Sean Scarpiello

I was recently emailed a link to the article “10 Reasons Why Students aren’t Using eBooks,” and before I read this article, I decided to make my own list of why students simply aren’t buying eBooks. There are a handful of different reasons why students shy away from using these newer and often times cheaper alternatives to textbooks. Regardless of some of the obvious advantages to eBooks, I also found there are just as many disadvantages to eBooks.

First off, one of the main reasons I myself do not buy eBooks is because they are all computerized and integrate technology. This technology is not a bad thing, but I do not feel comfortable when we rely completely on technology. If, the device breaks or runs out batteries at an inconvenient time or place, the student is in trouble. College students already rely on technology too much, and to rely on a device which carries all of their textbooks and coursework is just too risky. Another aspect of the device which carries all of these eBooks is that students are reading their text for classes on a computer screen. Whenever I work on a computer too long or read too much off of a computer, I feel like my eyes are fried. Reading off of a computer screen also seems to make students tired and uninterested in the material. For me personally, I feel as if I do not grasp the material as well if I read my textbooks on a computer or other device. This is mostly because I do not feel comfortable studying on a computer.

This leads me to my next point that today’s college students are simply not accustomed to having their textbooks in digital form. Today’s college students all had the traditional paper textbooks and simply have become very accustomed to this form. On the other hand, I think that students that are being raised on iPads and laptops in elementary school will be more likely to buy eBooks as they go to college. College students these days have always used regular textbooks and do not want to change their habits. Plus, many students highlight, take notes, and scribble in their textbooks, so they know what is important and what their professor emphasizes in class. This cannot be done with eBooks. Thus students will shy away from this technology.

Another factor which plays into the textbooks versus eBooks debate is cost. College tuition is already very expensive. Once parents and students buy laptops, school supplies, and all the other necessities for college, there is no money left for a device to hold these eBooks. For some majors, regular textbooks alone can cost $800. If these sorts of students were to buy an iPad, they would spend $800 before having a single textbook. Also, once the student has the iPad or other device to hold the eBooks, they need to make sure they have enough memory to hold all of these textbooks. I can’t imagine that a 16 or 32GB iPad can hold more than a full year textbooks. Some eBooks are huge and take up a lot of space on a device. This limits college students.

Ultimately, it is easy to see that there are several reasons why college students are shying away from eBooks. I feel that in the future, as technology and students advance, we will see a change in this trend. For now though, I think college students are going to stick with what they know best – traditional textbooks. The article “10 Reasons Why Students aren’t Using eBooks,” (see link below) supports many of my ideas, plus incorporates some new ideas.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I disagree. An ipad is only 400 bucks and you can find a lot of e-books free (especially older editions of textbooks). You will save thousands of dollars compared to traditional textbooks. You can even get a kindle for 200 bucks