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by Daniel Nelson

As a student here at Minnesota State University, Mankato (MSU), I dread the beginning of new semesters. It’s not because of the homework and tests I have to look forward to, but the sizzling hole that my textbooks burn in my wallet. School is becoming more expensive to attend each year. Since the price of education is on the rise, I appreciate any pennies I can save for myself. What better way to do that than with e-books. E-books are an electronic form of a book that can be read on a normal desktop computer or a device meant specifically for an e-book.

E-books are a cost-saving technology for students. Imagine while reading your expensive paper textbook that it suddenly displayed a video that taught you the technique you just read about. Imagine searching through your textbook with the click of a button. Imagine your textbook costing about half of what you used to pay. That’s right—you didn’t read the last line wrong. It was half the amount you used to pay. Imagine all this and more, with e-books. E-books have many advantages over paper textbooks. The best advantage for students would have to be the cost. E-books are sold at very low prices because the whole printing process is out of the picture. This saves money for the publishers and in turn saves money for students. MSU has already begun the process of using e-books in classes. The College of Business, for a management class this year, had students purchase an e-book for around 30 dollars. During a discussion with one management student, Kylene Wheeler, a senior here at MSU, I asked how she felt about learning from an e-book. She replied, “reading from the e-book was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. It just takes getting used to reading off a screen rather than paper. Since the cost of buying it was so little, I didn’t mind it much and wish more of my classes used them.”

The advantages don’t stop at the cost, either. Some more are listed below:

  • Accessible (downloadable)
  • Customizable (purchase the whole book or certain chapters)
  • Environment-friendly
  • Portable
  • Easily updatable (additions to the text)
  • Interactive (searchable, video, audio, hyperlinks)

Along with the good comes the bad: not everyone will enjoy reading e-books. People love reading paper books. They like to flip the pages and feel the texture of the paper on their fingers. Another student I talked to from the Computer Science department, Kyle Vierkant, said “e-books are just another technology that will have a tough time making it into our university on a large scale.” I asked him why he thought this and he replied, “computers cost money and the majority of classes on campus don’t have computers in them.” Yes, it is true that the majority of classes don’t have computers in them, but hopefully this will change in the near future. Some more disadvantages of e-books are listed below:

  • Reading text on the screen (eye strain)
  • Need a computer to read the e-book
  • Not all classrooms have computers
  • Copyright concerns (piracy)

Times are changing. I believe this is one change in the way we learn and communicate that is for the better. Hey, if e-books save me money, then I am all for them.