As a generation who grew up with video games and cell phones in our hands, most of us are fully accustomed to dealing with computers and laptops. With more options like the eBook and renting texts, will the value of owning books diminish? We talked to Jeremy Santos to get a better understanding of which option may be the best option.
Of eBooks, textbooks, and renting texts, which option would you say is most advantageous for students?
My experience tells me there is no “one” best option. Typically, the biggest selling point for any of these options is price. The high cost of textbooks is clearly what’s driving the rental and eBook industry so it’s easy to conclude that traditional textbooks will sometimes be the least advantageous option.
What is the cost situation? Are there any drawbacks to any of the options?
Each option has its pluses and minuses. Rentals typically have the lowest upfront cost but when you turn the book in at the end of the rental period, you no longer have the book. An eBook is only a bit more expensive than a rental but you own it for as long as you choose to. A printed text is usually the most expensive option but can be owned for life and only requires a shelf to sit on to remind you how much you enjoyed reading it.
Do people in general tend to benefit more from any one of the options?
I believe there is a strong tendency for customers to want the lowest initial cost possible. Selling a book back for cash is great but it’s never guaranteed, and the used book market can be unpredictable and volatile. Along with lower costs, eBooks have the added advantage of supporting our sustainability efforts on campus. As an example, this fall our Information Access Guide was only offered as an eBook, saving over 94,500 pages of printed paper, and it was less than half the retail price of last year’s guide.
Considering the great reliance on technology this generation has, do you see the eBook or other digital books taking over completely in the future? Would you say it undermines the value of books in the library?
eBooks will continue to garner more market share and may someday dominate in sales as more titles are added to the list and consumers become more comfortable with the technology. I don’t believe they will ever take over completely, too many people still prefer printed texts over electronic texts for much of their reading requirements.
Do you have a personal preference? If so, would you care to explain?
I hope I am never limited to only one option. I’m excited by what eBooks offer, both as a way to read and learn, and how they impact our planet. I have purchased eBooks and will continue to do so. But I still have a weakness for a nice thick novel or history book and will continue to have them take up too much room in my house. I think all three options will be with us for a long, long, time.
-Sam Stroup ’12, Juniata online journalist