eBooks vs. textbooks: What is the future of reading?

E-books continue to be up for debate in higher education. Photo Credit / Victoria Krukenkamp
E-books continue to be up for debate in higher education. Photo Credit / Victoria Krukenkamp
E-books continue to be up for debate in higher education.
Photo Credit / Victoria Krukenkamp


SC Staff Writer

eBooks are now a popular choice among college students.  At ESU our bookstore changed over to a Barnes and Noble bookstore last April, causing eBooks to be more widely available.  So this begs the question, which is better, eBooks or regular textbooks?

This all really depends on your personal opinion.

With eBooks becoming more popular, are more ESU students using eBooks?

Campus consensus after this first week of classes is that most students still like their regular paper textbook.

There are positives and negatives to both formats.

With traditional textbooks you are almost guaranteed to find your textbook in both used and new, rent a buy formats.  Sometimes you can even find paper textbooks in the library, so that you don’t even have to buy them.

You can also always write in the margins to help as a study guide.

With regular textbooks you can also sell them back at the end of the semester and get some extra money.

Some negatives to the regular textbook are how heavy they are.

If you have five classes in a row and a big textbook for each one, you guarantee yourself back problems for the whole semester.

Sometimes traditional textbooks are a lot more expensive than eBooks and as well all know sometimes the bookstore is out of stock and you have to wait for the book to come in.

eBooks have a lot of positive aspects that students are starting to consider more often.  eBooks tend to be a lot more convenient than regular textbooks.

As senior Vicky Krukenkamp puts it, “I like the convenience of eBooks.  This semester I have six classes on only Tuesdays and Thursdays, which requires me to be on campus for at least fourteen hours.  As a commuter student it is a lot more convenient to only have to carry my iPad to classes.”

A lot of students can agree with what Vicky has to say.  When you have multiple classes in a row, or a long night class , no one wants to have to lug a huge backpack around full of heavy textbooks.

It is a lot more convenient to only have to carry your iPad, nook, or kindle depending on which device you use.

That leads to another positive of eBooks, you can receive them on any electronic device and can often add them to your computer as well.

eBooks also are never our of stock, and appear right away on your device. Just like with a regular book, you can add notes or highlight.

Another major attraction to eBooks is that they are normally cheaper than the traditional textbook.

Some negatives to the electronic textbook do make the decision a little more complicated.

Unless you already have an iPad, nook, or kindle, you have to buy one before you can use an ebook.

The cheapest of the three tend to be the nook simple touch, starting at only $59.

Another major problem is that the page numbers often vary from a regular textbook to an eBook.

This means that when reading passages in class, or writing papers you have to find the right page.

There is a way to change the page numbers to match a traditional textbook but that can sometimes be complicated.  Another problem is that not all textbooks are available in electronic format.

For whatever reason, you are never guaranteed to find all of your books in electronic format.

Also, if you are someone who likes to sell back your books at the end of the semester for some extra cash, eBooks are probably not for you.  eBooks can be bought or rented, but either way you cannot sell them back at the end of the semester.

Last semester I bought both eBooks and textbooks for a general education course.

I personally love my nook, but I was not the biggest fan of having my textbook on it.  While it was definitely easy to use, and good for a general education course,

I do not think I would ever use eBooks for my upper level major courses.

It is all about personal opinion when it comes to eBooks vs. traditional textbooks.

Some people love one more than the other, and some haven’t even tried an eBook yet.

Because of how much cheaper they tend to be, I would definitely suggest everyone at least try an eBook.

Maybe just buy a small textbook that is only used for a portion of your class.  That way you will know for next semester which you like better.

As with everything in life, everyone is going to have a different opinion.

So, while there are both great positives and negatives to both the original textbook and eBook, it is worth trying something new.

Email Colleen at:


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