E-textbooks Continue to Rise Within Higher Education

By Nora Tarabishi, Bloc Reporter

In college, textbooks can be a nightmare.

They can be expensive, annoyingly large and heavy.

The rising popularity of e-textbooks, otherwise known as digital textbooks, pose numerous advantages and disadvantages.

Often cheaper than print, online textbooks can be more convenient for students to access, according to TopTenReviews. Some even contain a search bar, saving students time when looking for specific content.

Iman Smith/Bloc Reporter~E-textbook market remains on course to pass 25 percent by 2015, Next is Now reports.
Iman Smith/Bloc Reporter~E-textbook market remains on course to pass 25 percent by 2015, Next is Now reports.

However, some e-textbooks can only be viewed from a computer or expire after a certain amount of time because of subscriptions, according to the site. Some e-textbook companies only give the option of viewing the text with an internet connection rather than having it downloaded as a PDF.

Journalism instructor Soo-Kwang Oh, better known as Klive, said the pros of digital textbooks outweigh the cons.

“The increased interactivity will be very useful for garnering participation and facilitating students’ understanding of the material,” Oh said. “But there is also a risk of students not getting a comprehensive and in-depth understanding of the material because of the increased accessibility to large amounts of information.”

Because e-textbooks are online, several temptations such as social media can easily distract students from their schoolwork.

“Online textbooks exist in a distracting environment,” Mary Faddoul, a senior government and politics and journalism major, said. “I get distracted too easily, so that is why I prefer printed textbooks.”

Faddoul said she’s impressed by the interactive features e-textbooks can offer–however reading online material for an excessive amount of time can be problematic. “My eyes would get so tired after just one chapter,” Faddoul said.

Radhika Lakhani, a senior physiology and neurobiology major, agreed with Faddoul. “I find it easier to read off of a paper compared to off of a computer screen,” Lakhani said. “However, if the e-textbook is cheaper, I would go with that.”

Senior hearing and speech sciences major Molly Brown said switching to an e-textbook for one of her classes was about 30 percent cheaper than her other textbooks.

“I prefer print textbooks because that’s how I have learned to study throughout my whole life, but I would switch all my textbooks to e-textbooks just to save the money,” Brown said.

Rob Reynolds, director of MBS Direct Digital, said electronic course material will continue to play an increasing role in education.

“They will represent more than 10 percent of total textbook sales by the end of 2013 and more than 25 percent by 2015,” Reynolds told edCetera in a 2012 interview. “This evolution will translate into a gradual morphing of the current textbook and publishing models, and result in broad product and business in the education market.”

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