An electronic textbook also known as an e-textbook, digital textbook or an online textbook is the electronic version of a published, book length textbook and may or may not have a published version in the paper form. E-textbook use is growing in colleges and universities and is projected to dominate the textbook market within the next five years.
Publishing companies are now spending millions developing textbooks that provide students with features that are not available with printed books. For example, an English student can select a hyperlink and be taken to an interactive quiz or a medical student can be taken to an online surgical procedure.
While e-textbooks are still relatively new, many believe that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. There are many reasons students are choosing to go digital and here are a few:
- Speed of Delivery - An e-textbook can be downloaded immediately as soon as the book is ordered. It is no longer necessary to wait for physical delivery of the books especially if they are needed in a hurry.
- Easily Portable - published textbooks in physical form can be bulky and heavy. If the student takes several classes in a day, carrying half a dozen textbooks around the campus can become cumbersome. Digital textbooks on the other hand can be carried on a small laptop or e-reader, enabling students to carry virtually hundreds of e-textbooks.
- Easy Search - The search functions make finding any information on the e-textbook quickly. No need to go through the index pages or searching for a specific paragraph. Most e-readers allow notes to be tagged to specific words or paragraphs of a book. This helps students to take clear notes in their digital textbooks.
- Highlighting - The highlighting function allows students to mark important parts of the e-textbook for easy study later.
- Copy and Paste - The copy and paste functions allows students to quote sections of textbooks in their references, without having to re-type them.
- Audio - As e-textbooks can be easily converted to audio files, it helps students to listen to their lessons when driving or walking to college.
- Cheaper - Digital textbooks are cheaper compared to traditional textbooks, sometimes as much as 50 to 70 percent less than first edition print texts.
- Environmentally Friendly - Environmentally conscious students prefer leaving a smaller carbon footprint.
- Quick Updates - Traditional textbooks become obsolete quickly while e-textbooks can be updated with current information.
- Font Adjustments and Night Time Reading - E-readers make it convenient to adjust the size of the text and come with back lighting or built-in reading lights, making nighttime reading easy.