Students reject digital textbooks

Digital textbooks are one of the biggest advances in studying of the last decade, but a lot of students are saying ‘meh’ to them.

One of the main advantages of a Kindle, or iPad (or other tablet or e-reader), is that you can carry thousands of books around without adding extra weight to your bag. Given how heavy textbooks can be, you’d think ebooks would be a huge bonus of being at university now, as opposed to ten years ago. And not only do they weigh less, you can buy or borrow them instantly instead of having to schlepp to the university bookshop or library, search within them easily, and highlight and make notes without being accused of defacing anything.

So you’d think students would be all over digital textbooks. But they’re not. As Good E Reader reports, a new survey by Student Monitor found that 87% of the students they spoke to preferred to buy or borrow textbooks as physical books. And a study from the University of Washington recently showed that one in four students who were given free digital textbooks still went out and bought a hard copy version, because they think it’s easier to take in information when they read it on paper as opposed to on a screen.

And they’re probably right: last summer, a study found that readers absorb more information from paper books than from Kindles, and of course, if you’re up late studying, it’ll be easier to get to sleep afterward if you haven’t been staring at a backlit screen. I just hope that all these tech-eschewing students have got backpacks with strong shoulder straps.

Image via Pedro Ribeiro Simões’ Flickr.

Diane Shipley