MLive.com / Flint Journal / Updated January 30, 2011, 6:10 AM / Beata Mostafavi
Fewer textbooks are being spotted on the University of Michigan-Flint campus as more students such as Baz “carry” books on laptops, iPads, Nooks, Kindles and even smart phones this semester. The demand for eTextbooks seems to be booming, with the UM-Flint bookstore seeing a tenfold increase in sales in the last year.
“As we become more high-tech, I think more students are going to get into the habit of getting textbooks online,” said Baz, 18, of Fenton. “I think eTextbooks will eventually take over regular textbooks.”
Baz said new editions seem to come out almost every year for textbooks that can be hundreds of pages long and cost a couple of hundred dollars each. Many times, the changes in the new edition seem small.
He said some students see eTextbooks that provide the full text of books in a digital format as a greener and sometimes — although not always — cheaper choice.
Publishers are homing in on the market, issuing newer and more sophisticated products to enhance the e-book experience.
iPads and e-readers such as the Nook or Kindle allow students to highlight text and take notes. Programs such as Nook study — recently launched at UM-Flint through the campus’s bookstore owner Barnes and Noble — also allow students to access study guides and other digital aids to enhance digital learning.
UM-Flint international business major Todd Ackerman tried his first eTextbook last semester for an accounting class.
He said most students already take laptops to class for note-taking. Now their computers can also allow access to their books.
But there were cons, too.
It was more tempting to get distracted by other online activities such as Facebook or YouTube while reading and studying online, he said.
The trend hasn’t hit every college, with campuses such as Baker College reporting that the majority of students still prefer hardbound copies. Some professors at local colleges also require textbooks that aren’t offered in a digital format yet.
But the numbers of students using eTextbooks continues to grow, with 1 in 10 students reporting the purchase of one, according to digital course materials supplier CourseSmart.
“Print books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon and publishers understand eTextbooks aren’t the right solution for everyone. Everyone has a choice,” said CourseSmart Spokeswoman Karen Marotta. “But eTextbooks are appealing to professors and students mainly because of accessibility and cost and this is definitely something analysts and companies are seeing as the future.”