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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 8, February 19, 2006, Article 31

STUDENTS REJECT ELECTRONIC TEXTBOOKS

Dick Johnson writes: "One of the innovations on the book
publishing horizon is e-books Ė placing the entire contents of
a book, text and illustrations, on a single CD -- replacing paper
and ink versions. Publishers like the idea since cost is slightly
less, inventory may be greatly reduced since the CD can be
virtually reproduced on demand.

Textbook publishers thought this was ideal to replace costly
textbooks, particularly since modern students are savvy handling
digital data. An experiment this semester for students at Brown
University in Providence Rhode Island lacked success however.
Three textbooks were offered, but only one copy for one course
sold to a single student. His reaction was not enthusiastic.

An AP article by Anick Jesdanun this week told of that studentís
reaction: "He couldnít run a highlight marker over key points or
jot notes in the margins, nor could he curl up with the tome
without printing out the pages."

E-book publishers saw some setbacks as well. One student could
buy the CD and print copies for all his fellow students. Then
even pass the CD on for the next semesterís students. Publishers
could only build in a self-destruction after a yearís time.

I know how important underlining or highlighting is. Last week
I purchased the book "Doing Oral History" by Donald A. Ritchie.
On the internet I found a new copy at $20 postpaid, or used at
$12 postpaid. (Oxford, the publisher, lists it at $35.) I opted
for the used copy more for the existing underlining that the $8
saving to speed my study of this new subject for me.

In reading perhaps 5,000 numismatic and related books in the
last sixty years, I can remember only one with underlining. Coin
enthusiasts apparently donít underline numismatic books. They
are not books to study. Are they books for reference only?

A CD is great for reference. Search for a keyword and you will
have a desired location and citation almost instantly. But if
the experiment at Brown University is any indication, e-books
are not for study.

If you are interested in the news story:  Full Story

[I highlight articles and documents all the time for
career-based research, but not my numismatic books.  I would
rather make photocopies than directly mark up my books.  Why?
It just seems wrong to damage them for the next owner.  Most
collectors understand they are not the owners of an object,
only the curator.  What goes for coins and other numismatic
objects extends to the books in my mind, and I assume that is
why so few other collectors annotate their books.  I do realize
that many do constantly mark up their books, and their annotations
can be very valuable.  But I guess Iím just too reluctant to do
it myself.  What do our readers have to say? -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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