With the advancement of digitalization in all aspects of modern human life, there has been an ongoing dispute around the advantages and disadvantages of digital and paper books. In particular, textbooks that are the primary source of academic information for students, prevail in the form of e-books since modern students prefer them to paper ones. Indeed, e-texts are easier to use and provide multiple opportunities for more productive and effective learning.
From the point of view of textbook manufacturers, the production of e-texts is less expensive and more sustainable. Lower costs of e-texts make them more affordable and ultimately lead to greater popularity, reinforced by modern technological trends. Notably, paper textbooks might be lost, vandalize, or get damaged over time, which is not the case for electronic sources (Leonard & Snyman, 2019). With such trends dominating the publishing industry, some large publishing houses like Pearson and others have prioritized digital books in their operations (Susser, 2019). Additionally, when producing paper books, many paper and wood materials go to waste, which is considered less sustainable than electronic books, the copies of which might be multiplied endlessly without environmental damage.
On the other hand, from users’ perspective, e-texts have an array of significant advantages over paper textbooks. Firstly, they are accessible and convenient since one can download and access any e-text from any device and use them at any place. Moreover, given the load of books that a student needs to carry daily, having a single device where all books are collected is very convenient (Leonard & Snyman, 2019; Susser, 2019). Secondly, the features of searching and highlighting in the electronic book make the information search process more efficient. Thirdly, the availability of accessing cross-references, citations, and links through the digital texts allows for a fuller comprehension of material (Leonard & Snyman, 2019). Consequently, all these features make studying less time-consuming, contribute to learning efficiency, and demonstrate the benefits of e-texts over paper textbooks.
Leonard, A., & Snyman, M. (2019). E-books: Yes or no? A case study of undergraduate students at the University of Namibia. Collection and Curation, 38(3), 78-88.
Susser, C. (2019). Are digital textbooks better or worse than print?