A Textbook Alternative
Our world is changing. As our society becomes more technologically advanced, we must necessarily change with it, or fall behind. In this context, we have decided to investigate the pros and cons of using e-readers as an alternative to traditional college textbooks. Traditional college textbooks are expensive, heavy, and not environmentally sound. In an informal poll by our group members, we discovered that we spent an average of $570 dollars per student on textbooks for this semester alone. If you multiply this number by six semesters, the average amount of time it takes to complete an associate’s degree, a student at Mid Michigan Community College will spend nearly $3500 dollars on textbooks by the time of completion.
In addition to the fact that traditional college textbooks are exorbitantly expensive, they are also quite heavy, and not very portable. When it comes to portability, e-readers weigh in at just over one pound. With traditional college textbooks students can easily wind up carrying 30 pounds of bulky books in their backpacks (Mokey). This can sometimes lead to back problems, or exacerbate them in students who already have back problems. Furthermore, for those of us who are concerned about the environment, traditional college textbooks are not an environmentally sound option.
We propose that it would be in the best interests of Mid Michigan Community College to implement e-readers as an alternative to traditional college textbooks. Several other universities including Princeton University have already implemented pilot studies on e-readers with mixed results (Mueller). If Mid Michigan Community College were to implement e-readers then students will save money on purchasing textbooks, significantly reduce the amount of weight they carry with them, and Mid Michigan Community College may gain a reputation of being environmentally responsible. We do not think that most students would object to paying less to obtain their course materials, or to carrying less weight with them on a daily basis.
The Beginning of eReaders
E-readers have been around for decades, dating back to the early 1970s. The first e-readers were released in 1998; however, these intriguing little devices did not reach the mainstream public until 2008. In that year alone, at least six different types of e-readers were sold to the general public. In 2009, at least sixteen more types were developed and sold.
Electronic readers and electronic books have a longer history than some may think. The idea of having paper books in an electronic form has been around since 1971 when Michael S. Hart launched a project for the purpose of archiving cultural works. His main goal was to create a digital library where people could view books on their computer screens instead of on paper. Then in 1985 Robert Stein starts Voyager Company that specializes in producing CD-ROMs for books, which are still around today.
As far as which e-reader is better than another, we are going to provide specifications on certain e-readers in order to help the decision making process. Though there are many e-readers on the market, we have chosen some that have the best chance to be applied as a hardcover textbook alternative. Being able to compare these e-readers is a crucial part of determining which one is the best fit for the school.
The first e-reader we have chosen to describe is considered the most popular one on the market, and is what really kick started the e-reader movement. The Amazon Kindle has a couple of different versions available, depending on what the user needs. The latest version available comes with standard 3G phone service and Wi-Fi connectivity. What this means is that if you want to read a book, and either have an internet hotspot or 3G cell phone service, then you can download that book in less than a minute. The Amazon library boasts over 725,000...
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