Electronic and open-source materials are not an adequate replacement for traditional textbooks

by John Sens, University student

I disagree with the recent article about textbook costs, “College textbooks cost too much,” in the Feb. 13 Minnesota Daily, because it failed to address why we buy textbooks in the first place. Books are vessels of knowledge, and they are essential for learning.

Textbooks are written by knowledgeable people, and they are subjected to high scrutiny for accuracy.

Professors, ideally, choose the books for their classes for their content and the ease with which they can be used. Concise information and instruction is better and saves an enormous amount of time.

Trying to replace textbooks with e-books or free open-source materials is not a good idea, because it does not address the need for information that is easily accessible and pertinent.

It is hard to beat an index, chapters and questions that relate directly to the material, all of which make learning easy and efficient. Electronic and open-source materials are often far less convenient and helpful for students.

While we need to fight unfair industry practice, we should not throw away the tool that has made our culture, educational system and world possible.