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Students Try Out Alternatives to Hardcopy Textbooks

By Matt Kiernan

The rise of the electronic book sales industry provides an alternative for students looking to save money, but raises questions as to whether money and convenience can compete with text in the hardcopy format.

“I think they’re great in the beginning because they’re cheaper, but in the long-run not so much because students don’t realize they can’t return electronic books and money is something most college students need to save for the next semester,” said bookstore employee Kristyne Hall, CCSU ‘11.

E-books have seen a major increase in popularity rising consistently since 2006, with wholesale revenues of $37.6 million for the second quarter of 2009 in the U.S. alone, according to the International Digital Publishing Forum. IDPF keeps track of revenues for e-books quarterly.

“Books are easier to read, but books online or on the computer can be great because they’re right there in front of you for when you’re sitting at your computer so it has the benefit of being convenient,” said Jacqueline Amburn, CCSU ‘11.

Local book sellers that sell textbooks are seeing the demand from students for e-books. Although students can’t return e-books for their money back, the format is a way for students to save money, it also creates other problems, such as convenience of note-taking.

“I always liked the hardcopy versions because you can make notes in the margins, plus e-chapters make it necessary for someone to have a computer,” said freshman Zack Heidorn, an employee of Another Bookstore near the CCSU campus.

Some online applications and devices such as Amazon.com’s Kindle are a new format for downloading books to student’s computers and having the ability to make notes on each page. There have been some problems with the application, though, such as when a 17-year-old high school student sued amazon.com this year for deleting the book 1984 from their book archives, causing the student to lose all of his notes.

A way to counterbalance the need to buy books in hardcopy or electronic format is by using Web sites such as chegg.com that allow students to rent textbooks over the internet at around half the price and to return them in the mail.

While there are benefits of convenience for students buying e-books, the negatives can cause their fair share of problems. Some students may find reading a book on their computer can be uncomfortable and cause pain in their eyes from staring at a screen.

The CCSU and Another Bookstore will be selling textbooks in both formats to please customers of different preferences.