Over the past couple of terms I have seen the rise of something new – textbooks used in my classes on Kindles, iPads and Sony ereaders. Some of the students say the texts are rentals, but most have been buying and downloading them.
I’m impressed because a lot of educational publishers didn’t want to to release textbooks to ereaders for this very reason – the fear that students would make the switch and that they would start to lose money on the texts. Likely this will happen to some extent, and there will likely be holdouts in publishing for those very reasons.
The etexts are good though – for students and for teachers even if they aren’t the favorite medium of the publishers – here are the main reasons I have heard so far. Feel free to add to the list below.
- It cuts down on weight – the biggest reason I have heard students say – those texts are monsters to carry. Cutting on the weight in your bag (or my briefcase!) is awesome.
- It’s instant – no waiting for a text to be sent, no worrying about the bookstore having enough. They are there, in an instant on your screen.
- Easy to get rid of – let’s face it, most students sell off their textbooks or dump them at a used bookstore. Most don’t care to keep them as a reference. For those who do, the texts are forever in the archives. For those who don’t want them, they disappear into cyberworld as soon as the semester is over, cutting down on room clutter.
- It’s greener – think how many trees get saved by getting rid of those huge glossy monsters!
These are the most common reasons cited – some students also have taken advantage of Kindle’s rentals, and like that the texts are only available for the course of the semester and then disappear. Others still, cite the ability to switch easily between the text and their class notes they are taking in Word. Weight while traveling is another commonly cited reason – if you are on the go a lot, who wouldn’t prefer a lightweight Kindle to a huge textbook?
It’ll be interesting to watch the publisher’s responses over the next few years. This is definitely something that is not going away and will likely change education for years to come!