Digital textbooks provide quick access to course materials


In a world where connectivity is considered slow after a 10 second delay, students are looking for an easier, faster way to gain access to textbooks and materials. That way comes in the form of digital textbooks.

The RSC bookstore recently started a campaign through their parent company, the Follett Corporation, to not only sell textbooks, but also provide the option of rentals; a move that comes after many companies began catering to the cheaper, and greener, movement.

CafeScribe, another brainchild of Follett, has recently been developed for the “need it now” student of the world. After creating a user name and password, students are welcomed into the cafescribe.com homepage, where they are able to see friends, groups, and purchases made.

Searching for textbooks can be a bit more complicated though. Students can search by the books ISBN number, title or author’s name. To attain this information though, they will need to take a trip to the RSC bookstore to find the necessary search requirements, or will have to visit the online bookstore. Going online though does not provide ISBNs and has a good chance of not showing a photo, making a book search outside of RSC more difficult.

Interested parties will need to download the MyScribe reader. According to cafescribe.com, “MyScribe is iTunes for eBooks: buy textbooks, organize your library, subscribe to notes for your books… and much more.”

Available for free download on the CafeScribe website, the reader can be used by PC and Mac users, but it cannot be downloaded on iPad, iPhone or iTouch. Keep in mind, that even on a fast machine, this download can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.

After download, MyScribe shows the user their current textbooks, notes from self and friends that opt into sharing, messages, and highlights. After opening a text of their choice, users can pick between three different highlight colors, each corresponding to a different task, and example being “look up information,” allowing students to use the internet to look further into their readings.

Although an Internet connection is not necessary to use the books you have downloaded, it is necessary to check messages, look at notes people have publicly submitted, and to download any additional texts.

Although this concept is innovative, and can be used for the next generations of students, not all accept this new technology.

“I do not like the idea of a digital copy,” Kevin Cosby, former RSC broadcasting student said. “Overall I would rather have a hard copy.”

Others see the move as strategic to a completely digital campus. “What if schools issued iPads or Kindles for a reduced price. Then you could put the textbooks on there,” Jeremy Tanequodle, student senator said. “That would make backpacks virtually obsolete, and I believe it would be much more convenient.”

Jenna Forgey, a UCO at RSC student and former employee of the RSC bookstore as of publication, expressed concern about the price of e-books compared to a regular textbook. “There’s not much of a price difference on a few of the books we offer compared to downloading them,” Forgey said.

“Many people who come in here see the rental price or e-book price and think that’s how much the [hard copy] book is. Even if the downloaded book is cheaper, they still buy the regular copy.”

Forgey did cite the positives of downloading compared to carrying. “Sometimes it is cheaper, and if you already take your laptop to class, you don’t have to carry about five textbooks.”

Bridging the generational gap can be a concern for retailers whose marketing mainly targets younger generations. “I’ve had two students come in and ask about e-books,” Forgey said, “but they were both much younger students, and one had an iPad.”

Non-traditional student Kim Ryder, photography major, sees the good in a connected, easily accessible textbook. “I bought digital for the first time this year,” Ryder said. “I really like it so far. I have found that there are some books that you just don’t use as much as others.”

Ryder also asks and answers the question that most consumers have. “Why lug around that heavy $200 book when you can download a $50 or $100 book onto your laptop and peruse it at your leisure. I have done homework with it and also found it convenient to use there as well.”

But, whether you prefer a hand held copy to thumb through, or need your textbook slim, easy and digital, all students, young and old, need their information to take the educational leap. The only question left to answer is how long this digital textbook trend will last, and how effective is it to the learning process.

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