By Brian Villalba
E-readers are the future of books and are the morally right approach for college learning.
E-readers are a way for educational institutions to provide relief to college students who have an increasing financial burden.
Every year there are new book editions coming out where the content has not changed or changed minimally.
Human anatomy has not changed much in the last few million years. Ancient Philosophy has not changed much since it was written. Most literature has not changed at all since its time period. Most mathematics has not changed for at least a hundred years.
With a few exceptions, there is little benefit other than questionable aesthetics provided to the student from new book editions.
It may be profitable for the book company to charge over $100 for the same book with a different aesthetic, but students’ education is hijacked in the process.If the same content was done on an e-reader, there could be an update for small changes or errors in the text.
An entirely new edition would often not be necessary. According to a 2008 report from the California State Auditor, which did a study on the affordability of college textbooks, the used textbook market puts pressure on publishers to release new editions.
It is not morally wrong for a book company to make a new edition but it is morally wrong for a college to make it mandatory for a student to buy specific books that can cost more than tuition, without academic merit.
The same 2008 study found that students can find an average of 32 percent savings over campus bookstores using retailers like Amazon.com. This is driving students away from the campus bookstore. Money that would have been in the college system is now flowing out of it.
E-readers are a way to bring that money back to the campus. The Campus Bookstore can sell e-readers and e-books, which will bring student money back to the school.
There is a way that college institutions can do the morally right thing and still work with the publishers to provide a curriculum that offers an option for E-readers. Many people will not agree with e-readers in a college curriculum.
The Book Industry Study Group found, in their 2012 study, that 75 percent of students prefer printed textbooks over the digital form. This study is myopic in its scope. Students will buy thousands of dollars worth of books.
If students can buy the digital version, not only will they save significant money on the book itself but the student gains all the advantages of having a digital copy.
Students could carry hundreds of books with them everywhere they go including supplemental materials and be able look up definitions to unknown words with a click. Students could own an electronic copy and never have to replace it, as it is saved online.
Hundreds or, even thousands of dollars could potentially be saved in book costs over the course of their education.
If the student was given the choice between a $70 e-reader or the old fashioned book system, then it is an easy one. Everyone involved in education has to be honest about this issue for real change to happen.
How can East Los Angeles College say it is going green when it forces its students to buy hundreds of dollars in books each term?
College is supposed to be an environment that prepares students for the future, but as time goes on, college institutions are looking more like the past, not the future.
I am not suggesting that we ought to have a college without books. I am suggesting that students ought to be given the choice.
This is a fundamental change in how education is accomplished and with any change there is fear.
The problem with fear of the future is that the future is going to arrive whether we are afraid of it or not. In order for this change to work, every level of the institution has to work together for the benefit of the students.
This is not a task to be dumped on the faculty and it is not an issue to be politicized. This is a moral issue.
It is necessary to do what is morally right. It is morally right to offer students the cost savings and educational benefits of an e-reader option in the curriculum.