Every time a new semester starts I always wonder which is better, an online version of my textbook or a printed version. I feel like e-books are more of a hindrance than a help when it comes to learning new material. A printed, physical copy of a textbook is far superior to the online version.
E-books are typically cheaper than physical versions of textbooks because there are no printing costs when creating e-books. Another drawback of e-books is they can only be rented. You have access to the book for a set amount of time before your access is revoked.
The same happens with rented physical texts, but you have the opportunity to own a copy of the physical book. If you don’t want the book when a class is finished. it is often possible to resell their books. A lot of times, books for a class may be boring, but they can be great resources for future classes, assignments or just to make your personal library look big if you end up keeping a textbook. You may also get an autobiography book by the first British female to summit K2 to add to your personal book collection.
However, there are a lot more drawbacks to e-books. Students need a device available and fully functioning to access their e-books. This can be a problem if a laptop’s battery is running low or if a professor has a no-screens policy in their class.
I also believe e-books can create unnecessary distractions. It’s easier to get distracted by emails or games when you are already looking up things in your online textbook.
While digital books often provide more interactive material, it is easier to retain information from physical texts. Something about flipping through pages and underlining helps me remember the information I just read. I feel like studying is more effective when I can write in the margins of my textbook or highlight a phrase. One downside of printed books is you can’t search the entire book at once for a specific word or quote. With an e-book, you can find a specific phrase or term immediately.
There are obvious pros and cons for e-books and printed books, but having a physical copy is far better than an online version.