Ebooks lighter option for students’ wallets, shoulders
DANI BOILY, CONTRIBUTOR
Students can carry a heavy load, both physically and financially.
Ebooks could be the solution to hefty backpacks and textbooks prices. With the integration of ebooks in libraries, that load could get significantly lighter.
Matthew Handscombe said he hasn’t read anything but ebooks for the past two years.
“I love the idea of a device that’s got 30 to 40 books on it that fits in my back pocket,” said RRC’s coordinator of collection development at the Buhler Library.
But Handscombe said he was surprised to learn how many students are unfamiliar with ebooks. He thought students would come in with experience using ebooks, but that hasn’t been the case.
Ebooks are available on the devices students use most and are cheaper than books. So why is Handscombe seeing this trend?
“Many people prefer reading written word in text format,” said Tabitha Nordby, an instructor in the library and information technology program at RRC. She said there will always be a place for books, but we will see ebooks complimenting physical books in the future.
Libraries will eventually stop carrying books that regularly come out with new editions, said Nordby. When an old edition becomes out-of-date, they have to take it off shelves. Ebooks can give libraries the option to replace old editions digitally.
E-format also allows libraries to get fresh content more often and provide content that might have been unavailable in paper format.
Last year, RRC’s library database got 177,000 ebooks — four times the amount of paper books they carry, according to Handscombe.
The Exchange District Campus has a smaller library and it serves as more of a workspace rather than a warehouse for books, said Handscombe. More libraries will eventually condense and change their footprint as books go online, and more space is made for group work and private study.
More textbooks will soon be available in e-format with the Open Textbook Initiative, a free online textbook library for students. Manitoba will be testing out a model being used in B.C. to help post-secondary students save money.