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Amelia Asks: Do eTextbooks Trump Traditional Textbooks?

Last updated on September 26, 2017

Mountain View student Amelia Orozco
Amelia is an online student through Mountain View College and Dallas Colleges Online. Her hobbies include poetry, photography, reading, Netflix and hiking. She has written fro the DCCCD student blog since Spring 2017.

This post was written by Amelia Orozco, one of our DCCCD student bloggers.

One decision that all college students must decide on when purchasing required course materials is which platform to choose between when it comes to textbooks.

The traditional textbook has become a thing of the past and eTextbooks have become more prominent in the world of teaching. However, even with the rise in electronic book production, is this a better alternative to traditional textbooks? Here are some pros and cons to both the old fashion print book and the newcomer eBook based on my experience with both.

Cost Efficiency of Traditional Textbooks vs. eTextbooks

Traditional Textbooks:

Unfortunately, textbooks prices are ridiculous. We all know this from either experience or the multiple complaints we hear from others. However, depending on the class you take, you may find yourself in luck with no required textbook or a cheap one. There is also the option of buying used or renting.


Purchasing an eBook usually has a slight decrease in price. Because electronic distribution virtually costs nothing, this is a cheaper alternative to print prices due to the cost of production. You can also rent them which can almost double your savings (e.g. $20 to rent an eBook vs $60 to rent a used textbook).

Of course, renting either version of a book which is a vast difference in price either way.

Textbook Rentals

Traditional Textbooks:

Rentals may be one of the greatest capabilities when it comes to textbooks. The price is extremely lower than buying new (or used) but there is one consequence to it: no highlighting (although, I’m definitely guilty of highlighting text in a rental book – sorry Mountain View College Bookstore!). One small hassle of renting is the need to physically return the book or shipping it back to its vendor. And if you’re like me, you might miss the due date and wind up paying full price of the textbook (including the already paid for rental fee).


Unlike print textbooks, these don’t require mailing or a trip to the bookstore in order to be returned. It is simply taken away from your virtual library. An additional perk to this is the accessibility after the rental is due. On the Kindle app, you still have access to highlighted material even after your rental due date.

Physicality & Note Taking

Traditional Textbooks:

In the note taking aspect of things, print textbooks definitely win over eTextbooks. Highlighting is a breeze. It is easier to navigate through table of contents, key terms, and glossary. You can turn from the cover to page 100 real quick (pun intended). However, there is one small (big) con to this: it is a heavy, bulky item to carry around. And with multiple classes, the weight will add up.


Although I believe print textbooks win this round, there are various note taking benefits to eBooks. The option to search for keywords or phrases is extremely fast (very helpful when taking online, open book tests). There is also ease of access to table of contents and chapters, as well as a highlighting capability. Although, highlighting can be very time consuming when reading via phone (having to press and hold them dragging the highlighted portion can sometimes be a hassle). In addition, all your textbooks fit into one tiny device – your choice of electronic weapon (e.g. smartphone, laptop, or kindle reader).

Ultimately, the deciding factor between choosing a print textbook and an eBook is based on each individual’s study preference and the price point. Although I believe eBooks are more convenient, I personally favor physical textbooks over them. What about you? Any pros or cons I didn’t mention? What’s your preference and why?

Read more of Amelia’s writing, or check out some posts from our other student bloggers.

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