BY JULIA WINTON
A&E / OPINION COPY EDITOR
Schools across the nation have been trying to settle the debate over whether print or online textbooks are better. Although online textbooks, also known as e-textbooks, may be cheaper, the majority of the time, they are also renowned to be more difficult to use for their main purpose: to learn.
One reason it is harder to learn from e-textbooks is because the online formatting may be awkward. According to Business Insider, a study conducted in 1992 showed students were able to comprehend information better from print textbooks, which were more than a page long. Although this study is from over two decades ago, it proves that the topic of physical versus online textbooks is still an ongoing debate that has been around for years. Print books are easier to follow because the reader is able to control what pages are being flipped with his or her hands. However, online textbooks create a disruptive effect due to the need to scroll through different files and pages. Also, if an e-textbook has to be accessed through a mobile phone, it may not be legible because these textbooks are not designed to be read off digital screens.
Despite the fact that online textbooks are a cheaper alternative to the physical hard-copy paper textbooks, physical textbooks may be a more cost-effective option in the long run. Some students do not have access to a computer, tablet or the Internetat home; therefore, they would need to buy one of these devices in order to get an e-book. The purchase of a computer or tablet will result in an extremely large sum of money removed from one’s bank account. This, in addition to the cost of the online book, will significantly outweigh the price of a physical textbook. Students might not have the money to spend on the electronic equipment necessary for downloading and viewing these e-textbooks. Even those who already own the proper technology would possibly either have to upgrade to a larger memory storage or purchase a whole new device since the file size of an e-textbook can be overwhelmingly massive.
However, once a student is finished using a physical copy of a textbook, they can repurpose it by either reselling or trading it to someone else who needs it. This not only allows students to regain the money previously spent on the textbook, but also possibly make a profit from it. Besides having a financial benefit, paper textbooks also allow students to accomplish their main goal more efficiently: learning and analyzing the information.
According to the Business Insider, comprehension was significantly better when participants read printed texts. This is partially because people are able to read faster and more efficiently from print textbooks. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, highlighting, or note-taking, in an e-textbook is sometimes more difficult than on paper because some online sources do not offer the highlighting and note-taking technology.
Hard-copy textbooks not only make it easier for students, but simpler for teachers as well. Associate professor of English at Campbell University, Elizabeth Rambo, said when she assigns work in the textbook and refers to a specific page, those who own an e-textbook tend to have trouble finding it. This is because the page number and formatting of an e-book does not match up in the textbook version, the majority of the time.
Overall, the benefits of physical textbooks tremendously outweigh those of e-textbooks. When considering the main purpose, efficiency and cost of a paper textbook, it is clear these books should be used more frequently than online textbooks by students and schools across the nation.