Majority of students now prefer e-books

The CSU system signed an agreement with top textbook publishers to
provide students with more eTextbook titles. Mikey Underdown
(pictured) says he often helps students at the Kennel Bookstore
who want to buy electronic devices to read their textbooks.
Esteban Cortez / The Collegian

Walking through the Henry Madden Library spectators often see students at study tables using their laptops and tablets, iPads, Nooks, even Kindles. It’s a digital revolution. A recent Pearson Foundation survey found the majority of students now favor digital books over print and believe tablets will replace textbooks within the next five years.

Last month, CSU took the initiative and signed an agreement with top textbook publishers Follett, Cengage and CourseSmart  to provide the 400,000-plus students with 5,000 eTextbook titles.

Students will be able to rent the eBooks at a substantial cost savings over a new, physical book.

“The Cengage Learning will be providing eTextbooks for all academic disciplines and departments,” said Lindsay Brown, media director of Cengage Learning.

“The eTextbooks can be purchased by CSU students through their campus bookstore and,” she said

The eTextbooks are device-agnostic, meaning they can be accessed by any smart device. They can also be integrated into Blackboard and include interactive capabilities, which at this point in time, means note-taking and highlighting.

“It’s about taking it up to the cloud, so anything that has a web browser can access content,” said Elio Distola of the Follett Learning Group.

The cloud means file storage on anonymous Internet servers, which can be accessed from any browser-enabled device. Google, Amazon, Boxnet, Dropbox, Apple and Microsoft are among the many that offer free or low-cost file storage that can be accessed by a tablet or smartphone.

“Café Scribe, our digital solution at Follett, weaves social network sharing practices in,” Distola said. “Like the ability for Student A to subscribe to Student B’s notes.”

But for the individual student, the best benefit of the eTextbooks offered by all publishers is the ability to highlight the text, organize the highlights by color, to add notes and then to summarize and print out  all those highlights and notes into a study summary to get ready for tests.

These features are offered by all three of the publishers that signed the initiative with CSU, but they are also offered by a fourth publisher, Pearson, whose eTextbooks are required in some math classes at Fresno State.

“We adopted a textbook made by Pearson,” said math professor Tamas Forgacs. “Specifically the Calculus textbooks.”

“This way if they have any kind of smart device they can access the textbooks electronically or do their homework in the park if they want to. It works much better with their personal scheduling,” she said.

A key part of the Forgac’s calculus course is the online homework system.

“The textbook has features that can only be fully exploited on a computer,” Frogac said. “We require them to have access to the online homework system. It is cheaper than buying the physical book.”


While it’s clear that CSU administration, students and even some professors believe that eTextbooks are the wave of the future, Part II of this series will address the degree of current usage by students and faculty at Fresno State.

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