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Perks of Using Digital Textbooks

By Alyssa Laffitte

As college students, textbooks are a big part of our lives. Textbook costs can also add up quickly. For this reason, we need to carefully decide which type of textbooks we get. A good option for many students is to buy a digital textbook. In this article, we’ll discuss the advantages of using a digital textbook.

Digital Textbooks are Often Cheaper than Physical Textbooks

One of the biggest advantages of digital textbooks, rather than physical textbooks, is that digital textbooks are often cheaper. Digital textbooks do not require the shipping costs that a physical textbook does. It also does not require the same printing and binding cost. In fact, according to SecurEdge, digital textbooks generally cost about 50-60% less than a physical textbook. For those reasons, a digital textbook is cheaper than a physical one. Textbooks, in general, are a big expense for college students. Save yourself some money by opting for a digital textbook, rather than a physical one.

Digital Textbooks are Available Instantly

If you are in a hurry to get your textbook, a digital one is your best option because it is available instantly. (For example, if your professor assigns homework or a reading from the textbook that is due in only a few days. This is, unfortunately, all too common during the first week of the semester.) A physical textbook can take a few days to be delivered to your house or apartment. On the other hand, a digital textbook can be downloaded instantly with just a click. You only need to enter your credit card information, and the textbook will be available to you right away. Clearly, one of the biggest perks of a digital textbook is that it is available to you instantly; you don’t need to wait for it to ship to you.

Digital Textbooks Can be Accessed from Anywhere

Another big advantage of a digital textbook is that it can be accessed from anywhere, as long as you have an Internet connection. Sometimes, you can even download the digital textbook to your favorite devices, like a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. In that case, you don’t even need an Internet connection to access the textbook! Whether you are at home, at school, the local coffee shop, the library, or even a friend’s house, you will have access to your textbook. Unlike a physical textbook, which you would have to drag everywhere to have this kind of access to it. This ease of access is a perk of a digital textbook.

Digital Textbooks are Very Portable

Similarly, digital textbooks are very portable, unlike physical textbooks. Physical textbooks are often bulky and heavy. They will definitely weigh down your (likely already heavy) backpack. Carrying around a physical textbook all the time is tiring. However, a digital textbook is easily portable. You only need to bring along your favorite device, which you will likely need to bring anyway, and you will have access to your digital textbook. Clearly, digital textbooks are advantageous because you can easily bring them everywhere you go.

Digital Textbooks Don’t Require Physical Storage Space

We college students accumulate textbooks over the years. By the time you graduate, you will probably have a shelf full of textbooks you will never open again, collecting dust. Although you could get around this by renting your textbooks, it’s still a hassle to have to mail them back and to meet the deadline. If you use a digital textbook, you won’t need to worry about your textbooks taking up space in your bookshelf, or about shipping back a rented book. In fact, a digital textbook won’t even take up space on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, because they are usually accessible through the Internet. However, if you download your digital textbook, it will take up space on your device, but you can always delete it once you finish the class. In other words, another advantage digital textbooks have over physical textbooks is that they don’t take up physical space.

Digital Textbooks Can Be Interactive

Another big advantage of a digital textbook is that it can be interactive. Physical textbooks cannot be interactive because they are only paper. However, this is not the case for a digital textbook. A digital textbook can be accompanied by additional media, such as supplemental videos and audio. It could even have interactive figures, where you can click on certain parts of the figure to find additional information. These interactive features of a digital textbook can help students learn much more than they can with a physical textbook. The fact that digital textbooks can be interactive gives them an advantage.

Digital Textbooks Make Homework Easier

Additionally, digital textbooks make homework easier. When a textbook publishing company offers a digital textbook, they often also accompany it with a digital homework system (for instance, MyMathLab). This system makes it easy to do your homework, and if you ever get stuck on your homework, they can provide you with a link to the section of the textbook that can help you. If you already need to pay for the homework system, you might as well also pay a little extra for the digital textbook. Having both your homework and digital textbook under the same portal will make things easier for you, especially if you don’t want to drag a physical textbook with you whenever you plan to do homework.

Digital Textbooks are Searchable

Perhaps the biggest advantage digital textbooks have over paper textbooks is that they are searchable. When you use a physical textbook, you need to flip to the index of the book if you want to find out where a particular topic is discussed in the book. On the other hand, if you use a digital textbook, you can simply use the “find” option (Control + F on a PC, Command + F on a Mac) to find a particular search term throughout the book. The digital textbook might even have a built-in “find” option that will make this even easier. Being able to find a particular search term quickly in a textbook is very important. Because they are searchable, digital textbooks have an advantage over physical textbooks.

Digital Textbooks Can be Annotated and Highlighted

Many students hesitate to make the switch to digital textbooks because they like to highlight and annotate their physical paper textbooks. However, did you know that you can annotate and highlight digital textbooks? Many digital textbooks offer these abilities. In fact, you are limited by space when you annotate a physical textbook. But when you annotate a digital textbook, your notes can be as long as you need them to be, because you are not limited by physical space. Of course, many digital textbooks can be highlighted and underlined, just as a physical textbook could. If you enjoy annotating your physical textbooks, know that you can do the same in a digital textbook.

Digital Textbooks Can be Easier to Read

Another advantage of digital textbooks is that they can be easier to read than physical textbooks. With a physical textbook, you can’t change the font size. You can’t do things like bold the font, either. However, with a digital textbook, you can make those modifications to the text to make it easier to read. Additionally, when you read a digital textbook on a device, like a computer or a tablet, you can zoom in to make the text bigger. In other words, a digital textbook can be much easier to read than a physical one.

Digital Textbooks are Environmentally Friendly

Physical textbooks can easily be over 1,000 pages long. No wonder they’re so heavy! But any book with that many pages clearly has a significant impact on the environment. This impact quickly adds up when you need multiple textbooks for each semester for four years. If you want to reduce the amount of paper waste, you can use a digital textbook rather than a physical one. It has all the same information. (As we learned earlier in this article, the digital textbook might contain even more information!) Clearly, a digital textbook is more environmentally friendly than a physical one.

Digital Textbooks Never Go Out of Stock

One problem with physical textbooks is that they can go out of stock. What do you do when your campus library does not have the textbook you need in stock? Even if you order a physical textbook online, it could still take a couple of days until it gets delivered to your apartment or house, even with the fastest delivery service. On the other hand, a digital textbook will always be in stock. It will always be accessible to you. Clearly, digital textbooks have the advantage that they never go out of stock.

Digital Textbooks are Always in Good Condition

Have you ever received a used textbook that has very clearly seen better days? It’s not pleasant to receive a book with markings everywhere and dog eared pages. Or worse, with missing pages! Physical textbooks can deteriorate. However, a digital textbook will always be in good condition. You can’t rip out or scribble on pages from a digital textbook. When you buy or rent a digital textbook, you know you’re getting the complete book. That’s definitely an advantage a digital textbook has over a physical one.

Digital Textbooks are Up to Date

Physical textbooks can go out of date very quickly since fields are always changing and discovering new things. When the field changes, a new edition of a book needs to be printed. That’s why textbook publishers are constantly releasing new editions of books, and why professors might request that their students have the latest edition of the book. On the other hand, a digital textbook will always be up to date. It can easily be updated with the latest information in the field, without the hassle of having to print a whole new edition of the book. For this reason, you can be confident that a digital textbook will be up to date with the latest in the field. Being up to date is a big advantage of using a digital textbook.

Digital Textbooks Can be Rented

If you like to rent your textbooks rather than purchasing them, you should know that you can also rent a digital textbook. Usually, renting a digital textbook is the cheapest way to obtain a textbook. When you rent a digital textbook, you will be given access to the book online for only a certain amount of time. You won’t be able to see the book after that time has passed. The advantage of renting a textbook is that you don’t need to worry about it after the semester is over, and you will be saving quite a bit of money.

All in all, there are many advantages to using a digital textbook over a physical one. For example, a digital textbook is often cheaper than a physical one, since it doesn’t require any printing, stocking, or shipping costs. Because textbooks, in general, are very expensive, this is not insignificant! Also, a digital textbook will always be in stock. You can have access to it immediately since it won’t take days to ship to your house or apartment. Not only will you have access to your digital textbook right away, but you can also access it from anywhere you get Internet access, and from any of your favorite devices. For some digital textbooks, you can even download them and have access to them even without the Internet. This means you won’t need to drag a heavy textbook along with you if you want to study in your school’s library or at a coffee shop. All you need is your device and an Internet connection! Unlike paper textbooks, digital ones are always in good condition, since they can’t be ripped or scribbled on. Finally, digital textbooks are often up to date, since it’s easier to update a digital textbook with the latest information rather than print an entirely new edition of the book. Clearly, there are many advantages to using a digital textbook.