posted 2011-02-09 13:30:55

E-Books: Incredibly Useful Points of Contention

E-Books: Incredibly Useful Points of Contention

Jenady Garshofsky

Associate News & Features Editor

Purchasing textbooks has become nothing short of a painstaking process. Between overpriced textbooks, access codes and additional gadgets required for class, the process clears your wallet and, as quickly, your morale.

Luckily, there are more options available to students, such as purchase processes, quality choices and new technological devices. Many of these options extend from technological advancements that have refined the process of learning. You can purchase the physical textbook, rent the textbook, download the e-book for your computer or load it onto an e-reader device. With the availability of different ways to save, students feel like they are in control. But has the power of choice become the death of the materials once commonly used?

While some teachers are opposed to the mainstream use of electronic devices in the classroom, more have become open to the electronic reader that will serve as the textbook. Such a device would have seemed irrational and excessive just a few years ago. But that’s the beauty and fault of technology; it often serves as a form of mockery. Once produced, it stands as a more logical, rational and efficient solution that makes the standard process obsolete and time-consuming. Having your textbooks crafted into a PDF file on a lightweight tablet, instead of carrying five heavy tomes, was once a dream, but now a reality. Economically speaking, you clearly get more for your dollar and save. But morally speaking, you are accepting change and moving forward, replacing traditional methods that have once guided us through time. The consumer is forced to decide whether they wish to progress or stand still, until eventually there won’t be an option anymore.

This competitive nature that exists between books and e-books has transpired quicker then expected. One by one, consumers are choosing to push a button instead of flipping a page. With a rapid decline of major bookstore stocks throughout the nation, bookstores are slowly learning that the device created to produce more customers and higher revenue has killed the business within itself. Although e-readers are a large initial investment, the price of each digital book is much lower then a regular priced paperback. Even if the lower price is merely a reflection of the reduction of manpower needed to produce a book in digital form instead of a hard copy, it foreshadows the future of the industry, and our society — a future that requires less work for the same result.

Without a doubt, there will be more e-textbooks floating around campus in the palms of students. Will the convenience factor and technological advancements justify the replacement and movement into an era defined by sleek technology? So much of what we see has become digitalized, lost in virtual space. It can only make one wonder what the state of education will become. Virtual textbooks have the power to advance the quality of education because they are cheaper, more easily accessible and limit excuses students can use. But, virtual textbooks can decline education in the way we learn and absorb knowledge; technology can also crash or be defective. Finding the middle ground amidst a laundry list of pros and cons is never easy. There is no right or wrong, it’s a matter of power.

I think it’s obvious who the winner is, for good or bad. Society cannot exist if it cannot progress and redefine the way we live. It’s evolution, and it’s natural. Technology is a product of our life. So the question then remains, who are e-books bad for? The economy, the process of learning, or simply the stubborn idealists who cannot accept change?