The transition to electronic textbooks, once thought to the next big boon for publishers, is meeting with surprising resistance among students and professors. Studies conducted on the Kindle DX at business schools across the country showed an overwhelming–90%–support of the ereader by students for casual reading. However only the tech savvy “power users” embraced the device for academic work. Many students and their professors, used to highlighting text and making notes in the margins, were unable or unwilling to use Kindle DX’s annotation functions. But they may be forced to catch up.
With their relative low cost, electronic textbooks are an inevitable part of higher education’s future. Not withstanding the initial purchase price, the cost storing and maintaining electronic books is less than half that of paper books. Campus librarians have already foreseen the death of the traditional library. Rather than a storehouse for large numbers of paper volumes, the library of the not-too-distant future will be place for students to use their laptops to access the college’s digital collections.
Technology aside, there are immediate benefits that are impossible to overlook. It’s easier to haul a Kindle than the hundreds of pounds of books and study materials it replaces. Even considering the initial cost of the device, it can save money on text book costs. And it’s greener on the environment, an important consideration for academics. Lev Gonick, vice president of information technology services at Case Western Reserve, likened the resistance to ebooks to that seen with any new technology. College students, recognized for their trend setting nature, will soon become converts.