The Movement Toward Digital Textbooks
In 2010, less than one percent of all academic textbook sales were digital. That number is expected to grow to 20 percent in 2014.1 While this seems to be a new trend, it’s too soon to tell whether digital textbooks are here to stay. Only time will tell the effects they have in comparison with print textbooks on teaching and learning.
Students who prefer eBooks do so for a few reasons: price, portability and interactivity. The cost to produce a digital textbook is low compared to a print edition, roughly 50 percent less. This savings have led many college students and some elementary and high schools to take advantage of this option whenever possible. They are also extremely portable and are easier to access than carting around heavy textbooks.2
Digital Textbooks also open the door to a world of interactive opportunities for teachers and students. Concepts, issues and problems are easily searchable on the Internet. Text becomes more engaging with interactive content, videos and exercises directly linked within each document.
However, not everyone is on board yet with digital textbooks. Some feel that they have limitations because of the expiration dates that may be added to each book. Students can’t access information from certain eBooks once a course is over, and many titles are only accessible via Internet access, which is restricted on many elementary and high school campuses.
Finally, while eTextbooks may be great additions to classrooms, not all students are practiced in using them and are more comfortable using print editions.