By Carly Thompson / Staff writer
With the rise of technology, e-books have become more popular in college settings. Reasons for e-books over physical books include lower prices, study features, less weight in the bookbag, and immediate access.
However, looking at the e-book’s pros and cons from different viewpoints can show you why opinions vary.
“Copyright can be very problematic, it can create issues on what you are allowed to do with the book such as printing off certain parts of it or sharing. If you buy a physical book, you own it, it’s yours. You can do what you want with it,” said Melissa Emo, Public Service Librarian at Hutchinson Community College. “But with an e-book, there are still rules to it, so you don’t fully own it in the same way.”
However, even with the rise of e-book usage, Emo said she still believes that the library will remain a frequently visited place.
“The library is typically used for a lot of other things …(students) still need the physical books for research, computer access, Wi-Fi, and study spaces. A lot of times they also need help accessing our e-books and databases,” Emo said.
As for the campus bookstore at Parker Student Union, there will most likely be an increase in e-books and hopes for a better way of accessing them.
“My hope is that it will be via a different platform. But that is entirely left up to faculty and department chairs to make those adoptions,” said Lynita Ummel, Campus Store Manager. “Personally, I believe that faculty and department chairs select the course material and I think the students should be able to choose the format of the book that they want to use.”
While the library and bookstore might not be severely affected, professors that are in the classrooms have direct interactions with the students and their choice of e-book or textbook. Kelly Clasen, an English professor, offers her preference.
“I think it depends on the area of study and type of course. In English classes, for example, I don’t mind at all if students use a digital handbook as a reference tool to tackle grammar, style, and documentation issues,” Clasen said. “I also think it would be handy to have a digital handbook automatically available in every online composition class. However, I feel differently when it comes to literature and, especially, novels. There’s nothing quite like holding a weathered campus bookstore edition of a class novel in hand, making annotations as you sink into the plot, and reviewing the handwritten insights of past students. That is something special, and the experience is lost when students use digital formats.”
Clasen said she is OK with the use of digital textbooks but will “continue to discourage using cellphones to access ebook content during class.”
While opinions vary on e-books, most staff can agree that it should be up to students and whatever works best for them and their learning styles.