Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is This The End Of Textbooks? (

The recent launch of Mercyhurst's The Analyst's Cookbook, Vol 2 as a Kindle only edition ignited an interesting side discussion on the always informative IAFIE listserve regarding the relative value of paper vs. electronic materials for training and education.

Broadly, the arguments there break down along the lines of cost and convenience for electronic versions vs. durability and prestige (with a smattering of tradition thrown in) for paper.

The discussion is still ongoing for IAFIE members so I thought I would widen the audience a bit to include SAM's diverse readership. The infographic below, recently published in MakeUseOf, is designed to add some facts to the mix.

Textbooks of Tomorrow

By the way, our own decision was driven almost entirely by cost. Volume 1 of the Cookbook has been enormously popular (it is in its third printing and still available here) but it is expensive to produce, store and distribute. The Kindle version of Volume 2 allows us to drastically cut the price. This makes it an easier buy for most people and likely ensures a wider distribution.


Rex Brynen said...

Is there any research on how conventional vs electronic textbooks might affect student learning?

I ask because, in the 2 hours prior to reading your post, I have had (quite coincidentally) two separate students in my office mention how much more difficult they find it to study from electronic texts.

Kristan J. Wheaton said...


Several studies over the last couple of years indicate that students continue to prefer paper texts to e-books (though I note with interest that, according to the infographic at least 25% of students would give up sex for a month to get e-books...which suggests many things not the least of which is that the overall trend in preferences might be changing).

This study:, however, looked at cost and learning outcomes as well as at preferences and found it to be less expensive and with no change in learning outcomes to use e-books.


LeslieG said...

Interesting. I bought an e-book for my finance class and found it very difficult to use. Of course, I was using the Kindle version, but not on a kindle, so I had difficulty with note taking and marking up the test for studying.

I would imagine that as tablets become more interactive (like being able to "write" on the iPad) it will be easier to integrate the way we've come to use traditional texts versus electronic.

Anonymous said...

I too find it often difficult to use e-books for coursework.

And as soon as I say that....will Volume 1 of The Analyst's Cookbook ever be converted to an em-book? I have it in hardcopy but would like to have it on my kindle for the convienience.