Response to "The Future of the Textbook"

by | Apr 13, 2011 | 4 comments

This post is written in response to “The Future of the Textbook” by Sara Killingworth and Martin Marlow.  We invite your comments and discussion!

by Austin Mann,, [email protected]

E-textbooks are increasing in popularity, and for good reason. The advantages of an e-textbook include interactivity, user experience, search and look-up speed, just to name a few. But surprisingly, many tech-savvy students are still opting out when it comes to physical textbooks. To them, the appeal of a physical textbook is the ability to flip back and forth through pages quickly and easily, dog-ear pages, and make your own highlights quicker and easier then in an e-textbook.

Furthermore, as much as students would prefer to have e-textbooks, they can quickly become very expensive. And on the flip side, regular textbooks can also become surprisingly expensive. Not to mention the associated risk of used textbooks. Often times, the more inexpensive the book, the lower the quality.

A number of companies have arisen to help combat these pain-points for students. Some of them, such as, compare prices from many different websites to offer the best new or used book for your buck. Their listings are often led by larger sites like Amazon and

There are also up and coming companies like and, websites that allow you to place an order for a book, use it for as long as you specify you will need it, and send it back by your due date – think of Netflix, but for college textbooks. And because you are renting, it means the books have passed a quality hurdle, so students can expect it to be in pretty good condition.

As a student myself, I personally prefer to have a physical textbook for studying. Perhaps it’s because the digital devices are so full of distractions (it’s too easy for me to sink 4 hours playing Angry Birds, and wonder what just happened!). For that reason, amongst others, I prefer physical textbooks because it makes for more effective studying. That’s just my opinion, but I’m sure there are plenty of students out there who feel the same way.

Undoubtedly an e-textbook era may be coming. But however things eventually shake out, for the moment there are still plenty of viable options for those of us who aren’t quite ready for a digital textbook revolution.

Editor’s Note: Austin Mann is a Customer Service Representative for

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