The Vice President of Learning Solutions for the higher education division of MacGrawHill, Tom Malek, opined on Forbes.com about the importance and requirement of digital textbooks for college students. He has clearly explained his point of view about the necessity of purchasing digital textbooks for college life.
His article was published at the time when the news of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s bankruptcy hit the media. Is it coincidental or is the notion of imposing digital textbooks on students going to save the future of the digital world?
Although Malek has not explored the same point, he has ventured into understanding why students failed to adopt ebooks. He has pondered on the point that this generation has been living in the most advanced world, full of digital gadgets and computers since their earlier educational years. Why aren’t they adopting the technology of ebooks and still preferring print media?
There are many opinions regarding this fair question. Most believe that this is due to the price, which is in fact true for most college students, who prefer buying second hand textbooks from their older mates or save books for future use. Most of the students loan or share them with their classmates or roommates and agree that one buys a math textbook and the other gets biology for common sharing.
Malek has suggested a rigid system of using only the digital textbooks in higher education. He detailed that students should be automatically billed for their ebooks at the beginning, when they enroll in a class, removing any option of sharing or buying textbooks. He further pressed that the students are not purchasing ebooks which is why publishers are not producing cost effective digital editions. This compulsion for students to purchase ebooks will drive the publishers into producing cost effective ebooks on the long run. He also wrote that initial programs where this system was used have produced good results, as teachers are very happy to know that every student has equal access to the same book.
He further cemented his opinion by stating that ebook production has become possible after thorough technological advancement. Lots of effort has been put into providing these ebooks to students. Publishers and bookstores had to switch to more flexible business plans to make this happen. But unless and until universities recognize the importance of ebooks, the shift from print to digital versions is not possible. He said that the main incentive of this proposal is to make college more affordable and to help students in their academic performance.
But imposing ebooks on students is not the best way to improve the digital business. If it is, then all print media should be abolished and universally replaced by digital books. The most practical and honest way to encourage e-reading is to make the ebooks superior than print media in more than one aspects: price, search ability and quality of reading.