Digital Textbooks: Bane Or Boon?

McMurry_FinalCoverDigital versions of textbooks that can be read on a PC or a dedicated reading device like Amazon’s Kindle are slowly gaining ground in university classrooms. But they’re not yet used much in chemistry courses.

What’s your opinion of these digital textbooks?

As a student or professor, have you used one in your college courses?  In what ways did it help or hinder your educational activities?

And if you haven’t yet tried a digital textbook, what’s holding you back?

Author: Sophie Rovner

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  1. Whenever I get a survey or informational flyer from a textbook publisher offering an electronic version of a textbook for a greatly reduced price, I take an informal survey of my students. The informal surveys are basically carried out by going into the lab and asking the students if they would prefer the electronic book. So far the results have always been unanimous. The students are vehement about wanting their dead tree versions of the textbook. I don’t blame them. That’s the version I prefer.

    This past spring term I had one student who admitted that she was having trouble in my course because she had purchased the electronic version of the textbook and found it inconvenient to use. She was very grateful when I loaned her a copy of the old edition of the textbook to use. Based on her experience, I’m going to be slow to recommend or require a digital textbook for use by my students.

  2. I’m a huge fan of the free books available (digitally) on the NCBI’s web site. New textbooks are not cheap, and used ones are not easy to find: certainly not as easy as just going to

    Sure, paper textbooks have their advantages, but $250 worth?