Although the use of eBooks is becoming increasingly popular among college campuses, there are pros and cons associated with making the switch to electronic books.
Dr. Thomas Manning, VSU chemistry professor, used eBooks with his students last year but stopped due to problems with security limitations and short-term access to the material.
“They give you, basically, a PDF file that lasts 12 months and it just disappears,” Manning said. “The other thing was that students could only download it to one computer, and once it was there that was it.”
CourseSmart is one company that offers eBooks for a limited time period, such as 180 days or 360 days.
Their website states material can only be downloaded to only one computer, and the eBook is no longer accessible after the subscription expires.
This prevents students from being able to continue to use their textbooks later on.
Although Dr. Manning said he received many complaints from students about the eBooks, there was one advantage.
“The good thing about it was when we had that, 90 percent of the class bought the eBook on campus so we knew that everybody had a new textbook, but when they had the hardcover book only twenty percent of them bought it on campus, so statistically there were just more students with textbooks,” Manning said. “Right now in my general chemistry class there’s a bunch of students that come to see me that don’t have textbooks, because they can’t afford them.”
Minal Gandhi, a sophomore business management major, said she was excited to save around $200 when her professor allowed the class to use an online copy of a book the professor wrote herself.
Kelli Cody, a senior environmental geosciences major, said she once used the eBooks her high school offered but ended up not liking them.
“It’s hard to flip through the pages and study…I would probably try it, but I don’t know if I’d like it,” Cody said.
She also said schools should still offer students the option of a physical book instead of forcing them to use an eBook.
Others like the idea of having an electronic version of the textbook.
“It would be a lot simpler and a lot lighter…and you don’t have to read all the stuff you don’t need,” Tevin Reganandez, a sophomore linguistics major, said.
As reported by eCampus News, Daytona State College is striving to become a 100 percent eBook campus.
Officials said the Florida school is trying to save students money from having to purchase physical textbooks by implementing a plan that forces students to pay a course-materials fee, which includes the cost of eBooks, instead.
The school is working on a deal with publishers that will allow students to buy electronic texts for around $20 each. They also plan to offer affordable eReaders for students.
According to Publishers Weekly, a survey by the National Association of College Stores indicates 74 percent of students prefer print over electronic.
If VSU decides to go the digital route, Bethanie Brogden, bookstore director, said it would be a faculty decision not one made by the store.
“If the faculty chose to go all eBooks, that’s what you would see in here,” she said.
Brogden said she felt making eBooks mandatory would discriminate against those who did not learn best electronically.
“I feel like what should be happening is you have a used textbook, you have a new textbook, and you have an electronic book on the shelf,” she said.
Whether or not VSU will eventually transition towards an eBook campus remains to be seen, but students can rest assure the bookstore will continue to provide options.