textbooksI take a course every summer, and after last year’s bliss of ‘no book, just online articles’ we are back to a paper-only text for this one. And it’s so annoying! In counterpart to that big heavy book I have to lug around with me if I want to work not at home, I am doing a personal interest course this summer as well which did have an e-version, and it’s so much easier. Here are some reasons why:

– The reading is easier to keep track of in the eBook version. I can just read, stop at the end of the chapter, and then open it up tomorrow and resume where I left off. The book also has download links to some online versions of the chapter-ending discussion questions, which you can answer right on the page. Handy!

– I love, love, love eBook highlighting. If I see something I want to reference later, I can go back to it in seconds with just a tap or two. Contrast that to the paper textbook, where I will see something on the course message board that I want to respond to, and I’ll remember seeing something in the book that was exactly this, and then I have to get the book down, flip through the pages, try and remember where it was…

– I can do the response activities right on my iPad. It’s so easy! iBooks lets you copy text to the clipboard. I just highlight the question, copy it and then open up my notebook application. I can paste the question right into my notebook and type my answer right away. I find that I am actually doing the response activities this time, instead of just skimming over them.

– I can make connections with other books I read. The paper book is limited because it sits at home, but I can access my e-library anywhere, via Dropbox. So if I want to reference something in any of my regular, non-course eBooks, I can download them again in an instant—and if they have any bookmarks or highlights from the last time I read them, those will still be there. Thank you, Amazon Kindle Cloud, for that feature!

I think a lot of times, people get bogged down on the whole e-textbook thing because they think that means adding videos and multimedia features and all of this interactive stuff, and it doesn’t have to mean that. A plain and simple eBook version of a plain and simple paper book is all I am asking for. And it has some advantages over apps and videos and fancy bells and whistles—you can access it at any time, using your regular and preferred reading software, and you can interact with it as you would any other eBook in your library.

As for my paper textbook, well, we share a message board with people who are taking Part 2 of this course (it is a three-part accreditation) and I have heard from at least one person who has a Kindle version of the Part 2 text. So next year, I may be back to an iPad-only summer of learning. In the meanwhile, I will be spending the next week finishing my course work with that clunky paper book in hand. Yuck!