E-Books vs. Traditional Books


Ask Dr. Diane:  Which do you like better .  .  . e-books or traditional books? 

I am often asked about my preferences for e-books vs. the traditional book for use in the classroom setting.  I teach for many different online universities.  Some of these universities use e-books and others do not.  Initially I was leery about using them because I am a page bender, a highlighter and basic destroyer of books, in order for me to get the most out of them.  Technology has improved though and you can now do more to the e-book to mark things of interest.  Also there is the option of printing out a few pages here and there if you really want a hard copy. 

When I wrote the book The Online Student’s User Manual, I had no intention of offering it as an e-book.  However, within weeks of its publication, one of the universities where I teach asked for it in that format so that they could make it required reading for all new students. Needless to say, I got over my reluctance quickly and made it available.  I also made it available on Kindle: http://amzn.to/aCvMI1

Through time and experience using them, I realized that e-books are a great option for many students.  A typical example is the student who attends a regular university and doesn’t want to lug a ton of books all over campus.  However, my students are online students.  Many may tend to have an ease with technology which is why they chose online learning in the first place.  Some of my older students may have more of an issue with it than the younger ones.  However, the portability and ability to read at work online or print things has made them accept the transition and appreciate it more.

0 thoughts on “E-Books vs. Traditional Books

  1. Good point about students possibly having a different attitude to ebooks. The cost and challenge of storing traditional books are also factors for them to consider.
    But can ebooks allow students to adopt the classic pose of having a plethora of books strewn across a desk, while they collate the best information, cross-checking back and forth?

    1. Hi – you do make an interesting point. I have many e-books loaded on my computer where I can open several at a time. If you are talking about using them on a Kindle or like device, that would be more difficult. I know I can open several pages at once with my iPad and click back and forth to them, but I have only found that ability with websites and not within iBooks. Either I haven’t found that ability or it is probably coming soon. It doesn’t take that long to switch around within the books on my iPad but it definitely isn’t the same as having them strewn across a desk! I do agree that the cost is a huge factor for students. E-books have definitely helped reduce costs for them. What I like as an instructor is that they can no longer say that their book hasn’t arrived and they will be late submitting assignments. . .

      1. Hi Dr diane hamilton

        Amazon recently announced that its June 2010 Kindle e-book sales nearly doubled its hardcover book sales (180% higher). Many of those e-books were self-published books priced under a dollar; however, data indicates e-books may become the dominant long-form format in not too many years.
        Are low-overhead e-books better for authors or publishers than their print counterparts? This infographic shows the breakdown of where the dollars from e-book and traditional book sales are going……………….


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  2. The downside I see to going all digital as a student is that you can’t sell of your eTextbooks after you’re done with it. There’s no such thing as buying an eBook secondhand also.

    1. That is a good point. However, a lot of regular books cost so much and the digital versions can be much cheaper. I remember selling some regular books back and not getting all that much money for them. I’ve not looked into the difference between what was spent initially vs. what you got back on regular books, but the lower initial price for a digital book may make the total price similar.

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