It hasn’t been all that long since I went off to college (well, OK, a decade, but who’s counting?) and yet the lives of college students are so different now, especially when it comes to technology. Facebook has revolutionized the way students interact, digital archives have changed the way they do research and now e-textbooks are changing the way they study. In my day, textbooks sometimes came with CD-ROM companion guides, but e-readers like the iPad, Kindle and Nook hadn’t been invented yet, so it was impractical, if not impossible, to exclusively use a digital version of a textbook. (iPods hadn’t even been invented yet when I went to college. Boy, do I feel old right now.) Over the past few years, as e-readers have become more available and affordable, digital textbooks have started to really take off. They’re a great money saver for students, since there are no printing costs involved; they’re much easier to carry around than those huge tomes most of us had to schlep; and, most importantly, for our purposes today, they’re better for the environment. There has been some amount of skepticism about whether e-readers, with all of their hard-to-recycle electronic parts, are better for the environment than traditional books for the public at large, since most people only read a book or two a month and often buy used books or check them out from the library rather than buying new. But college students aren’t the public at large. Think about how many textbooks you hauled with you to your first apartment after college; if you were anything like me, you had a lot, and most of them you bought new because textbooks often get updated every year or two. Replacing the dozens upon dozens of books one student accrues in his or her college career with one e-reader would make a pretty significant dent in the worldwide production of paper. If you’re curious about where to find e-textbooks, you can look at online stores like Zinio, iChapters and eCampus, or download a tool like the recently launched NOOKstudy app, which allows students to browse and search multiple books and write annotations, among other functions.
Textbooks Going Digital: Convenient and Green
Can e-readers spell the end of textbook waste as we know it?