View Full Version : Ebooks and Universities?

03-12-2010, 01:46 AM
An interesting development occurred to me at University this week.

I'm studying a course on the tragedy genre and we were required to download an e-book of an out of print Renaissance drama. I never thought of this, Universities will no longer be at the mercy of publishers and request students download instead of having to omit important texts.

Is this how ebooks will be normalised?

I'm currently suffering a similar problem with my African Literature course. I had to order a book from the US five weeks ago and it still hasn't arrived. To complicate things I have a presentation to give on the text. I would have much prefered to have paid the 20 to download the text five weeks ago.

03-12-2010, 03:24 AM
Well, for works that are out of copyright downloads are always an option. But otherwise you are still going to depend on (e)publishers to make the work available.

03-12-2010, 03:58 AM
I started producing, and licensing, my own ebooks for texts in 1998. It does "cost" my labor, but it's a better deal for those students who favor ebooks.

Licensing was either free or shockingly cheap for those works that needed a license.

I also ordered a print version or produced a .pdf for students who wanted hardcopy.

When a paperback on acid paper of a Jane Austen novel is anywhere from 8 to 10 dollars, and anthologies are 40.00 to 120.00, it gets pricey for students.

03-14-2010, 08:14 PM
Please, Please, Please let all college texts go to the eformat!

Mom of a college student

03-14-2010, 08:18 PM
A reasonable prospect for some courses, but I like to make margin notes and scribble formulas by problems.

Any ereader I'd use would have to have a pen-style tool for annotations, because a simple keyboard is not sufficient for writing formulas for thermodynamics equations.

03-14-2010, 08:20 PM
Please, Please, Please let all college texts go to the eformat!

Mom of a college student

Keep in mind that the ebook versions of major textbooks cost almost as much, and are not re-sellable; some even self-destruct.

03-14-2010, 08:22 PM
And you need to have something you can read them on. Which is another cost.

The Grump
03-14-2010, 08:53 PM
I like the thought of college texts going to e-format. The publishers wouldn't have as strong an excuse to jack up the prices.

Since this is a prime case of a target audience, maybe the competition from alternate publishers will eventually lower the prices of texts. (Hey, I can dream, can't I?)

03-14-2010, 08:58 PM
And you need to have something you can read them on. Which is another cost.

Most of the textbook publishers are targeting Windows. I'm not enamored, or impressed with the books I've seen. For one thing, they aren't easy to navigate. Every publisher uses a different UI. Some allow you to make notes or highlight, but there's no way to find those pages.

If you're going to put a book on a device, you need to do something to make up for the inherent awkwardness of the experience; at the very least, large zoomable images, for instance. Easy and sophisticated searches. The ability to copy and past excerpts with a citation. Stuff that isn't rocket science.

03-14-2010, 09:33 PM
I read last year that the University of Virginia did a study of e-text books. The biggest complaint, was the fact student could not highlight or make notes and most ended up printing hard copies out which defeated the paper free part of the experiment.

I just recently read that many universities are banning laptops, iPhone, reading devices, etc, during lectures and some even during classes. A study found those classes generally had a higher grade point average than classes that allowed the devices.

Ebooks and devices can be a two edged blade and I think it all depends on the individual using the devices and what their expectations are...

03-14-2010, 10:07 PM
Actually, many large departments are creating their own texts from professor's notes and putting them in some sort of standard format, typically PDF or Powerpoints. Not only does it save the students hundreds of dollars, it also lets them standardize curricula across multiple sections and offer exactly the subjects the department feels should be covered.

This has been going on for a while--it used to be done with copy machines, now they can just put a PDF on the web and let the students who want paper copies print them out.

I'm not convinced that the problem of kids playing WoW with the electronic notebook that should be taking notes is worse than the problem of kids doing crossword puzzles or reading comics inside their paper notebooks. At the university level, at least, people have to be responsible for their own choices, and if they don't feel the lecture deserves 100% of their attention, they can suffer the consequences (if any).

03-14-2010, 10:47 PM
If a student is playing WoW in my college classroom and doing so without disrupting my class, that's his or her problem. I grade for participation in class. And reserve the right to call on anyone at all, and give pop quizzes.

It's their grade, and their problem.

03-15-2010, 10:53 AM
And I bought textbooks that I barely opened, apparently the prof just wanted us to buy a book. Or, we used one chapter. (Which we didn't know ahead of time, of course) By the time it was re-sale time, the edition had changed or they weren't using that book.
So, bring on the e-books. Even if they self-destruct, at least they won't be cluttering up the place. And even if the e-readers are awkward, I'll bet a lot of people get by without printing out the whole thing (Or much at all)

03-15-2010, 10:20 PM
Most ebook text books have limitations on printing; some won't let you print at all.

Lady Ice
03-15-2010, 11:03 PM
You can download texts off the internet then print them- there's nothing like having a hard copy to scribble on, beat up when it annoys you, fold pages over, etc. Because in exams, you have the book, not an e-book.

03-16-2010, 12:09 AM
I printed the drama to take to class. Now I've decided to write an essay on it [it's called The Spanish Tragedy].

So I can scribble notes and highlight quotes minus the guilt. :D