E-Textbooks vs. Printed Textbooks

Submitted by: Phil Riebel 08/22/2012

On Aug. 14, USA Today ran a story about several universities forcing students to use electronic textbooks despite widespread student pushback.


August 21 2012

by Alexa Schlosser, PSDA Blog


On Aug. 14, USA Today ran a story about several universities forcing students to use electronic textbooks despite widespread student pushback. According to the article, "Some universities require students to use e-textbooks,Ē students do not see much savings with e-textbooks compared to printed textbooks, and some even noted that they were spending more money because they were printing out copies of the e-textbooks for class.

A 2010 study from the University of Virginiaís Darden School of Business that had students use Kindles to read e-textbooks concluded that students did not prefer using e-textbooks in the classroom. The studentsí concerns were plentiful. For one, the devices were too rigid for quick use in class. From the study:  "You canít move between pages, documents, charts and graphs simply or easily enough compared to the paper alternatives.Ē

Itís not that students disliked the Kindle entirely, though. Between 90 and 95 percent said they would suggest the Kindle to a friend as a personal reading device; they just didnít find them useful in the classroom. For more information on the Darden study, click here.

Amazon.com Inc. seems to understand that students prefer printed textbooks. On Aug. 6, the company launched a print textbook rental service. The educational market currently uses 99 percent print textbooks, so it makes sense for Amazon to get into the business. While that number will surely go down in the future with more institutions going digital, itís clear that printed textbooks will be the most popular choice for a while.

Although Iíve been out of college for a couple years, I would definitely be upset if e-textbooks were being forced on me. Printed books can be heavy, sure, but thereís something to be said for getting away from screens to study.   

What do you think about the future of e-textbooks? Is this a realm that will be able to dodge the digital takeover?