Friday, August 26, 2011

E-Textbooks Pros and Cons

The images and colors of a book can attract me from a great distance.  Picking up the book I lightly run my fingers across the spine exploring the texture and weight.  A gentle flip of the pages introduces my senses to the aroma and sounds that are unique to each book.  I have participated in this ritual for decades, and I would be lying if I said that there was not something intimate about the reading process.  However, now that I am attending college, I don’t have the luxury of courting my choice in literature.  Required textbooks, research materials, and my laptop have increased the weight of my backpack upwards of fifty pounds.  Now, faced with engaging e-readers, I feel as if I am being unfaithful to the tried and true relationship I have with paper, but I am doing it anyway.  I am buying every possible online book I can for this semester.

Kindle, Nook, i-Pad, and a dozen other e-readers have taken the market by storm.  Here are some of the pros and cons I have considered.

CONS:   Digital is new and therefore not all companies have published every title electronically 
                For the most part you need online access to read core material
                It is a different process to take notes
                There is a definite evolution, prejudice, and learning process that will be faced
                You must have a power-source or plenty of battery life
                Many textbooks have expiration dates after one to three years

PROS:    Two pounds of luggage vs. 50
                Volumes of additional resources included with e-reader for free
                The e-textbook I have investigated were half the price of the hardcopy
                Instant access to comments from others that have studied the text
                Instant availability and updates
                Ability to do homework at a remote location
There are many resources out there, but here are the top three that I have found for my classes.  The Vol State Bookstore recomends CafĂ© Scribe.  Most of publishers I investigated used  Course Smart, and Vital Source.

Overall, I won’t know until the end of this semester if this was a good choice or not, but if this digital relationship fails, I hope that paper will still be patiently waiting for me on my bookshelf.

Volunteer State Community College

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