The pros and cons of using e-books

Students should weigh their new book options in class.

Tiffany Trawick

As the school year approaches, naturally it is time to get that school list together. Along with school supplies and dorm essentials, books are one of the most costly expenses. But unlike just a few years ago, the way in which we read is changing. Just as computers and laptop computers have begun to replace pencils and notebooks, so have e-readers begun to replace textbooks and other forms of literature as well.

On one hand e-readers are definitely a plus, as they are convenient for many students, being lighter to carry and more efficient spatially. At the same time these technologies are not always the cheapest to invest in. This being said, e-readers are still on the rise.

Because of the influx of this new technology, other industries have begun to suffer, especially the publishing industry. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of Americans now report having read an e-book, up by 4 percent from last year. This may spell an inevitable decline of books being bought in print. Many publishing companies in the past five years have suffered, including Macmillan, which recently laid off 4 percent of its employees.

While the demand for books does not seem like it will be able to sustain both electronic and print formats of literature, it is important for us, especially as students, to weigh the pros and cons. I am a bit old-school as I prefer a nice hardcover novel over reading from an electronic pad.

At the same time, we must also take the environment into account — e-readers do wonders for the environment — as our demand for paper decreases.

While the choice between an e-book at the University of Minnesota Bookstore and an analog textbook may seem like readers’ choice, remember there are many other factors to consider — not just convenience but the economy and environment as well.