Opinion

Digital textbooks are not so popular

In this digital age, we are constantly texting, typing away on our computers and e-mailing through our phones. Technology has taken over our lives and we are attached to it.

For a generation that is the most technology adept in history, one would assume that we would enjoy the idea of having our books on a Kindle, Nook, iPad or other device.

According to the recent study by the Student Public Interest Research Groups,  however, three-quarters of the students surveyed said they still prefer a traditional print book to an e-book. Additionally, The National Association of College said that digital books currently make up about three percent of textbook sales.

So, why is it that we won’t let go of the good old fashioned heavy textbooks? After all, textbooks are expensive- a semester’s worth of textbooks can cost up to $900. Nevertheless, we continue to buy and rent used and new textbooks from Internet book retailers such as Amazon, Textbooks.com and Chegg.com. Digital reading did not stop our very own University of Miami Bookstore from launching a book rental program this year.

Perhaps we are not ready for digital reading because we have grown up using print books. We are not ready to give up the benefit of highlighting passages, flipping pages and writing little notes in the book itself.

Although new technology gives students the ability to use e-textbooks this way, there are still plenty of drawbacks in using it.

Not only does the computer screen exhaust our eyes, but it can distract us from doing our work. We are tempted to check our e-mail, log on to Facebook and surf the Web. In general, we spend enough time on our laptops and cell phones. So why not get away from this unhealthy technology addiction by reading an actual bound book?

More importantly, what if a virus gets into your computer? What if the screen goes blank and all your notes are deleted? The battery could die, the server could go out and carrying that bulky equipment could become absolutely obnoxious.

Even if more books are made available as e-books, it will not be the same as reading, studying and learning from an actual print book. With a paperback book, it is easy. You can carry it with you and read wherever, whenever.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

October 27, 2010

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


3 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Digital textbooks are not so popular”

  1. Heather S says:

    The negative aspects that you mention about digital texts are not issues with the kindle. I use mine for all of the textbooks that are available digitally. Because I can put multiple textbooks on it, it’s much less clunky than printed texts. The battery lasts for weeks, and the screen isn’t illuminated, so it’s not like reading from a screen. The best part for me is that most of the digital textbooks that I have purchased have cost less than the printed editions (not to mention that I do not have to pay shipping fees), which makes the $140 for the kindle pretty reasonable. I’m sure people aren’t crazy about reading from something digital, but I think it’s great.

  2. Michael B says:

    We should be surveying middle through high school students it we are trying to understand a trend. I am working with 8th graders that are significantly more accepting of digital text compared to seniors in college.

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.