Print textbooks preferred over technological twin

Gregory Medina/Staff Photographer

Gregory Medina/Staff Photographer

There are more potential health related issues associated with e-books than print textbooks, according to Diane Lynch, assistant director of Health Services.

Research published in “Words on Screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World” by Naomi Baron, an American University linguistics professor, revealed that 92 percent of college students prefer print textbooks over e-books.

Chelsea Wilson, a senior marketing major, said in an email interview that she prefers regular print textbooks.

“You don’t have to worry about technology failing and I think print books are easier to read,” she said and added that she does not want e-books to ruin her eye sight.

While print textbooks can contribute to back strain due to their heavy weight in backpacks, there are more health problems with e-books.

Lynch said in an email interview that according to the American Optometric Association, e-books can be related to Computer Vision Syndrome, which involves eye strain, headaches, blurred vision and dry eyes.

She added that students who use mobile devices and tablets are at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Haleigh Morgan, a senior external communications specialist from the Follett Higher Education Group, said in an email that new and used print book purchases and rentals continue to represent the majority of the course material sales, with rental being the most popular option at universities.

Morgan said that students rent print textbooks because they can highlight, take notes and convert the rental to a purchase if they choose to keep the textbook.

“From a digital perspective, we do continue to see a growing interest in digital learning technologies each term, but this is still a small percentage of total course material sales,” Morgan said.

Dana Viezure, an assistant professor of Religious Studies, said in an email interview that she prefers that students use print textbooks for homework and classwork.

Viezure said that she wants the students to have physical books in front of them for classroom discussion so that they can flip through the text easily, and that e-books can lead to skimming instead of effective studying.

“This is in part because we tend to apply the same reading techniques that we use for browsing digital content online, and in part because it is much harder to avoid distractions when the internet is just one click away,” Viezure said.

Lynch said that there is some evidence that the brain has a harder time processing, storing
and retaining the information read in digital format. There is also the possibility of more distraction when reading on a computer or tablet, she added.

Viezure said that she would like to see e-books offered for free with purchases of print textbooks because it is convenient to have digital access to the book when students are “on the go.”

Samantha Todd can be reached at

Author: Staff Writer

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