Pros & Cons of Digital Textbooks


In the age of constant technological advancements, there is now more than one way to view a textbook. There are the traditional, hardcopy textbooks, and then there are the new digital downloadable books, which can be viewed on an electronic reader device. There are equally good and bad points to note about digital textbooks.

Pro: Cheaper Than Hard Copies

  • Digital versions of textbooks are cheaper than new, print copies, costing anywhere from 30 to 50 percent less. However, you need a device to read digital texts, such as an e-reader, computer or a cellphone While such a device can be costly in the short term, in the long run the investment will pay off as it will save you substantial amounts of money that you would otherwise have to spend on expensive regular textbooks. In addition, many people already have computers and cellphones that support digital text formats such as PDF.

Pro: Easier to Carry

  • Instead of having to carry around a bunch of bulky textbooks that are inconvenient and bothersome, you can store all of your books digitally on a laptop, cellphone or, better still, a lightweight e-reader device designed specifically for people to read comfortably. Furthermore, because many students carry their laptops and cellphones to school for other reasons, they do not have to take any additional hardware with them to be able to read digital textbooks while at school. Also, students who use digital textbooks never worry about forgetting to pack a paper textbook.

Pro: Word or Phrase Searches

  • Many students sometimes find themselves frantically searching for a word or phrase in a textbook, but cannot quite pinpoint where it was they saw it. Digital textbooks make searching easy as you can simply type in your word or phrase and it will locate it for you. This eliminates the need to leaf through hundreds of pages and waste valuable time searching for a single paragraph.

Con: Eye Strain

  • As a student, you will probably already spend a great deal of time staring at the computer researching and doing assignments. Having to stare at another screen to read your digital textbooks may be a bit too much for some. Even the slightest glare on a screen can be off-putting and could lead to unnecessary eye strain.

Con: Requires Charging

  • Though you may have all of your textbooks conveniently stored in your electronic reader device, you could be left feeling frustrated if you forget to charge it and your battery is running low in the middle of an important classroom discussion. Unlike with paper books, to read your digital textbooks you must remember to recharge your e-reader; digital books are rendered useless if the device to view them does not work.

Con: Restricted Availability

  • Since digital textbook technology is relatively new, there may be restricted availability on which textbooks you are able to purchase in digital form. Also, some textbooks are only available on certain devices; you may have an e-reader but find that the textbook you want to download is not supported by your specific device model.

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