These days, video rental stores have suffered a slow decline due to the rising popularity of things such as the commitment-free Redbox kiosks and the convenience of Netflix. The friendly smile of the cashier has been replaced with self-checkout machines. Soon, your campus bookstore may swap their textbooks for iPads, Nooks and Kindles.
Currently, textbook publishing companies like McGraw Hill are converting college textbooks into a digital format. I believe this trend will continue to expand.
No one enjoys lugging heavy books around campus. Not to mention the tediousness of waiting in line at the college bookstore. However, nothing makes me cringe more than when I hear how much textbooks cost.
Downloading an E-textbook to your laptop rarely takes more than a few minutes. The average laptop weighs between 5 to 7 pounds compared to 3.5 pounds for a single textbook. However, for those of you looking to lighten your load even further, the iPad, the Kindle 2, the Kindle DX and the Nook each weigh less than a pound.
Digital readers typically cost less than a semester’s worth of printed textbooks. The iPad sells for $499, the Kindle 2 is $259 and the latest version the Kindle DX holds 3,500 books and sells for $489. The nook, manufactured by Barnes & Noble, is reasonably priced at $220.
In addition to being economically priced, lovers of the printed word will also be able to appreciate the positive impact digital readers will have on the environment. According to Cleantech, the production of 140 printed books generates roughly 1,074 kilograms of CO2, the Kindle only produces approximately 168 kilograms of CO2 over the course of two years.
In 2008, the Book Industries Study Group reported that Apple had sold one million iPads in the first four weeks of sales. In 2009, the total revenue of the digital book industry was $40 million. Despite already owning a laptop, I definitely find the convenience of a digital reader to be worth the cost and their popularity seems to be on the rise.
According to Dr. Roger Von Holzen, director of the Center for Information Technology in Education at Northwest Missouri State University, within three to five years printed textbooks will be virtually obsolete on most college campuses. In a few years, I believe professors at Cabrini College will be instructing their students on which e-textbooks to download rather than which textbooks to purchase at the campus bookstore. This will significantly lower the cost of required reading materials for college students.
Online retailers like Zinio and CourseSmart save students an average of 50 percent on digital textbooks. Individual chapters are also available for $1.99 from iChapters.
Digital readers will enhance the learning process with 3-D imagery, which is especially useful for science courses. Using these devices, professors will be able to update information instantly by correcting inaccuracies and providing supplemental information. There are also features that allow students to highlight and take notes that can be shared in real time.
Many learning institutions are concerned that this type of technology may be unfamiliar to adult students, making it more difficult for them to pace with their younger classmates. However, using the latest technology in the classroom will better prepare all students for the competitive job market.
Charles Jones was one of the most influential speakers of all time. He said, “You are the same today that you are going to be in five years from now except for two things: the people with whom you associate and the books you read.” In this case, I do not think it is the books that people read that will change, but the way in which we read them.