But a New Yorker article discussed the merits of traditional books against the drawbacks of e-readers and electronic devices in college classrooms.
“On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion,” said Ziming Liu, one of the researchers referenced in the New Yorker article. “On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text.”
Konnikova’s article details additional issues with reading on digital platforms, including a decline in reading comprehension and the distractions of online reading.
But a number of benefits of e-readers, specifically those financial, may outweigh the negative issues mentioned in the New Yorker.
Affordable Learning Georgia is “a University System of Georgia initiative to promote student success by providing affordable textbook alternatives,” according to the ALG website.
Houston Davis, USG executive vice chancellor of academic affairs, said in a video on the ALG website that high costs of textbooks may prevent students from purchasing their required readings.
ALG services, like Galileo, provide professors with alternatives to expensive textbooks. With electronic options, students have access to media with fewer financial barriers.
“I know the digital versions are cheaper, so if that helps students, then it works for me,” said Josh Dix, an international affairs doctoral student who served as a teaching assistant for a POLS 1101 course.
But Dix also said he personally does not like digital versions of textbooks because he prefers physically holding a book as well as writing in margins and highlighting text with real writing utensils.
Nan McMurry, UGA Libraries director for collection development, said the library does not focus on offering digital versions of textbooks, but it does offer many e-book resources.
“The library has a collection of 332,000 e-books and electronic documents that include, but are not limited to, government publications, historical texts and contemporary mainstream books,” she said.
But the library still makes purchasing decisions that prioritize content over format, and there are limitations to the access of e-book and digital resources, McMurry said.
“Many things are technologically possible with e-books, but they don’t happen in reality because of cost and publisher restrictions,” she said. “For example, most people assume that an e-book can be accessed simultaneously by as many people as want to read it, but most of our library e-books are available to only one reader at a time, just like print.”
She also said e-books often cost the same amount as a traditional print books.
Despite the rising popularity of e-books, e-readers and other digital formats of books, McMurry said traditional print will not disappear overnight.
“It’s a much more gradual evolution, and it may never result in the complete extinction of print, so I don’t expect things to change much for the library over the next several years,” she said.
When asked if students prefer digital formats to traditional print, McMurry said that it’s about an even split.
UGA offers several resources for student access to e-books. The main library and the Science Library provide rental iPads, Kindles and laptops to students and faculty.
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