Forcing Electronic Reading on Students

Colleges, such as Indiana University and Cornell have adopted programs that force students to use e-book versions of their text books. The USA Today article “Some Universities Require Students to Use e-Textbook” , explains how universities are justifying this choice, much to the student’s dismay. I for one am against reading text electronically. It’s harder for me to focus on the material, and it hurts my eyes. Call me old fashioned, but there’s something helpful in the ability to just hold a book and scan the text. Though you can “mark” the text on an e-reader, it is more of a hassle than just using a highlighter or jotting a note in the margins.

I understand that the universities are trying to cut down on book costs. Colleges can work with publishing companies and receive great deals digital texts. If the price is reduced by 15 dollars for every 100 you spend on text books, you’ll save a lot of money in the long term. But do the advantages really outweigh the disadvantages?

Lower-end e-books cost around 100 dollars, and have no defined life ( see here). The software will need to be upgraded, and you run the risk of losing saved books with program patches/upgrades or viruses. You have to worry about battery life, which would be worrisome in a lecture. If your e-book dies in the middle of a lecture, you’ll be screwed. To add insult to injury, some e-books don’t accept some file types. If you want to download “Lives On the Boundary”, but it uses a weird file format, you won’t be able to read it. 

I would love to hear everyone’s opinions on this.

~Nick Bonnet

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One thought on “Forcing Electronic Reading on Students

  1. Nick,

    I would have to agree with you. I also feel that it is harder to learn off of an e-textbook. I have had to use them for a few classes, and I found it to be very difficult and frustrating. Another issue I have with using e-textbooks is that there is no “buy back” for the books, and they sometimes cost as much as a hardcopy book. In my speech class this summer, there was an e-textbook for the class that was availalbe to purchase for $65, as compared to a hard copy price of $102. However, the e-textbook was only available for 6 months. So not only would I get the e-textbook for only a short time, but there were not be a way to get some of my money back like I could with a hardcopy. Lastly, the pages on an e-reader or PDF file never really match up with the page numbers of the actual hardcopy, making it harder to follow along. I, like you, do prefer an actual book in my hands. It’s just easier.

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