The Obsoleteness of Textbooks


Adryan Barlia, Staff Writer

As college students, all of us have, at one point or another, had to deal with buying a ridiculously heavy and expensive textbook, only to open it a handful of times — if any — throughout the entire semester. At this point in our college careers, we have each probably thought, “Why do we even use textbooks anymore? Why don’t we just get rid of them and use other sources to teach course material?” Although the answer to this question is filled with complexities and deals with publishers, there is no denying that with an increase in technological usage by students, the whole idea of a textbook will soon become extinct.

According to a recent New York Post article, Life Sciences Secondary School has come to realize this very idea and has ordered for all its textbooks to be dumped out of school grounds. The school administration stands behind the idea of “modern technology over books” and feels that books are “antiquated and outdated, and we should be using new technology” for the education of their students. Although there are some in the school that disagree with this notion — they see it as getting rid of an essential learning tool — these educators fail to see the long-term benefits of online sources as the primary tools for course work.

Almost every major textbook publisher has ebook versions of their work available, and with an increase of tech usage among college students, the most sensible move would be to use online sources as the primary tool for courses rather than relying on textbooks. It is nothing but a nuisance to be having to deal with textbooks — from buying, carrying and studying from them, and then returning them after just a few months. There are so many other digital textbook sources and textbook-building programs such as FlatWorld and iBooks Author that are rising as providers of a wide range of textbooks.

To advocate for the switch from textbooks to ebooks is not to argue for the disuse of books in general, but simply a critique of the lack of efficiency and functionality a textbook provides compared to an ebook. An ebook allows for an interactive consumer experience on whatever device it is used. From easy search guides to on-screen note-taking, an ebook allows the student to make the most of it in any way they can, which is far more convenient than note taking on a rented textbook. The information that is learned from a textbook is what is important, not the physical embodiment of that information — thus if there are easier means of obtaining that information, there should be a move to make that transition.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, May 1 print edition.

Email Adryan Barlia at [email protected]