Online texts a better option

By By Eric Evans

By Eric Evans

I accept that textbooks are heavy, can be used only once before they’re outdated, and that I need to lock up all of my belongings before entering the University Campus Bookstore. But when I pass rows and rows of books at the beginning of the semester and then find the one shelf I actually need empty, I begin to get irritated.

U bookstore supervisor Hollie Fletcher said it’s rare that mandatory textbooks sell out and require reordering each semester, but occasionally it does happen.

Also, with juggling so many different texts at a time, it can be easy to forget or even misplace important texts, and it can be difficult to decide which book to bring where and where to keep them in the meantime. If we lived in a perfect world, all instructors would accommodate a student’s failure to have a required text when given legitimate reason, but because we live in a flawed and cold world, the setbacks are all too real.

Isn’t it enough that we put up with the high prices? According to a 2008 student watch survey by the National Association of College Stores, students pay more than $700 every year for required textbooks that will only be used once. Add that to the stress of postponing the first homework assignment of the year because of unavailable textbooks, books damaged or lost and students carrying the added weight in their backpacks and what we have are the kind of unnecessary inconveniences that can be resolved.

Introducing the eBook. According to www.nacs.org, more than 30 percent of the money spent on textbooks goes to paper, printing and publishing costs, but the eBook requires no mass publishing, reducing the cost of an eBook for both the bookstore and the student.

Plus, eBooks are always available online8212;they never run out of stock. They can be pulled up wherever a connection is available, thus turning a load of four textbooks into a free-swinging laptop bag.

The problem, however, is that not enough students know about the online texts, and the bookstore doesn’t do enough to let them know.

According to a 2008 study by the NACS, more than half of college students did not know whether or not their university provides eBook options, and only 18 percent of all students actually access them. Additionally, the U bookstore Web site barely mentions eBook alternatives to printed text.

This comes as a sharp contrast to Bowling Green State University of Ohio and many others who sell access to eBooks8212;usually in the form of access codes to available Web-based texts8212;in store or online. Even though the percentage is small8212;the MBS Textbook exchange reported in 2005 that 5.7 percent of textbook sales were derived from eBooks8212;the number will grow as schools catch on to this cost-effective technology.

The U bookstore should make eBooks available, or at least bring them to the awareness of students. Although not everyone will jump at the opportunity, those who do will transform from students seeking the convenience to boost their morale into happier, less weighed down and less stressed students of the future.

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Eric Evans