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E-books gain wider use by professors

By Nicholas Shigo
On April 17, 2014

  • UConn senior Kim Silva bats against Providence during a UConn softball game played on the campus of the University of Connecticut. TROY CALDEIRA/The Daily Campus

With the combination of increasing prevalence of e-readers and rising costs of textbooks, some students and teachers are moving away from printed textbooks and towards studying from electronic versions.
Professor Richard Rockwell of the University of Connecticut sociology department exclusively uses the electronic editions of the textbooks required for his classes.
Rockwell prefers this method because of the lower price point for students and the ability to access not only the textbook, but study aids and quizzes through the online provider.
Even with the lower price, Rockwell has not found that students are more likely to purchase the e-book than the physical copy.
"Not everybody has a high resolution laptop that can easily display what they need to read," Rockwell said.
Other professors adopting the e-book versions of textbooks have found similar results.
According to Professor Mark DeAngelis of the UConn School of Business, only half of his students purchased the new e-book version of "The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business," published by Flatworld Knowledge, even at the price of $40 instead of the $160 hard copy.
DeAngelis switched to electronic copies because of the climbing prices of college textbooks.
"It's unconscionable what publishers charge for what kids get," DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis said that college students prefer not to buy textbooks and he thinks that the lower price and interactivity of e-books will change that.
"I believe that the printed book is dead," DeAngelis said.
Many students prefer using e-books to hard copies for the lower price and the ease of carrying a small tablet instead of a heavy textbook. Gianna Duncan, a second semester speech, language and hearing studies major, uses her iPad for storing study materials.
"If there were a lot of books in the course, then I would use the e-book," Duncan said.
However, students don't find e-books favorable for certain circumstances. Duncan said she prefers to use her e-books for short readings because the iPad screen hurts to look at for long periods of time. Students also said that printed textbooks are favorable when the class requires note taking or highlighting material within the text.
"If I'm writing something on the computer it's easier to refer to a paper copy than a digital one," said Nicolas McGarrahan, fourth semester psychology major.
With online content and e-readers becoming more common in and outside the classroom students and teachers may find a bigger push towards digital media in the coming years.


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