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Is E-Book a Good Choice for Academic Reading?

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Are E-books A Good Choice For Academic Reading?

Chi Nguyen

Writing

Level 6E, LCC, University of Houston

Instructor: Thong Dang

April 11th, 2014


Are E-books A Good Choice For Academic Reading?

Abstract

This research paper reviews the effects of using e-books, and argues that e-books are a good choice for academic reading.

Introduction

No matter how people raise the issue of the increasing number of non-reading adults, reading books still remains to be one of the most popular spare-time activities worldwide. Along with that, the number of e-book users is also growing. Not being a new concept, e-books have appeared for several years. However, only recently, with the remarkable development of technology and internet, and the emergence of many kinds of reading devices including personal computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones, e-books becomes more commonplace and available to serve various purposes of reading. There have been many papers written about the effects of e-book usage. Most of them pointed out that in the near future, e-books will be the norm in both normal and academic life. This paper will review the pros and cons of using e-books, interview five students from University of Houston's master programs, and argue that the great advantages of e-books can overcome their disadvantages and become a good choice for academic purpose.

Literature review

Researchers, who have been concerned and have conducted a lot of surveys about this matter, indicate that e-books can bring discomfort by affecting readers’ mental processes of understanding like causing stress, feeling of exhaustion, memory gap, and sense of control. Gazing at the screen over a long time, e-book users are required to put more concentration and attempt on their reading than usual (Marcum 2). According to Marcum (3), e-books make it harder to remember what people just read. Due to the fact that the size of the reading screen can affect readers’ memory, the smaller words on display are, the bigger the memory gap can be. Moreover, the position of information presented in each page of a book like top, bottom, right-hand or left-hand side also contributes to the users’ recall. That spatial association is provided poorly in an e-book. Thus, great effort is needed to keep readers on track, which causes tiredness while reading. Another study made by Gibbons (sec. 2) also mentions the flexibility of using printed books over digital ones. Since printed books allow users to navigate texts, which e-books do not, like turning back and forth between chapters, highlighting with chemical ink, taking note in the margins, readers feel more comfortable when taking control of the book.

Regardless of e-books’ disadvantages, it is proved that building e-book systems can help reducing considerably the purchasing cost for individual readers in specific, and the operating cost for libraries in general. Since most of the time, e-books are much cheaper than printed versions, nearly half of the price, and also, the purchase can be made through the Internet without driving to the bookstores, e-book users can save up much money (Anderson). Besides, a closer examination reveals that running an e-book system in libraries enhances cost efficiency. Based on Snowhill’s article “E-books and their future in academic libraries” (1), used by libraries, e-books help reduce cost significantly in physical handling and processing, including binding, labeling, transport, repair, and storage. Because the content of e-books is digitized, libraries can cut down storage expenditures including shelf making, air condition systems, and humidity control systems.

Some studies also point out that e-books can be a big help for researching in libraries. It is very easy to access a book from the catalogue without physical action, since users only have to click on the link to get the full book. One more prominent advantage of e-books is their updating characteristic, which is really essential for reference works. In addition, readers don’t have to go over all the pages to find the information they want, or face the problem of lacking the relevant documents; instead, there are many tools in e-book reading devices that support these requirements (Li et al. 11).

Findings and Discussion

Above, it has been pointed out that the issue of using e-books contains both pros and cons which are all worth the consideration. Thus, what should be questioned is whether or not e-books have a bright future in academic life despite all of their disadvantages. To clarify this matter, the writer carried out a survey with five students from University of Houston's master programs, who are possibly most related to using books for studying and reference. These participants include three females and two males in the age range of 24 to 30. To protect their identity, the participants are named A, B, C, D, and E. Below is the questions and answers.

[pic 1][pic 2][pic 3]

A

B

C

D

E

1. What is your major?

Supply chain and logistics

Technology of project management

Human resources

Network and communication

Information system and security

2. What semester are you studying?

1st

2st

3rd

1st

1st

3. Have you ever used e-books?

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

4. Do you have any e-reading device? What is it? (lap top, smart phone, tablet, kindle, etc.)

Laptop, smart phone

Laptop

Laptop, tablet

Laptop, smart phone

Laptop, smart phone

5. How often do you have to do research in a semester?

3 times

3 times

4-5 times

2 times

3 times

6. Do you prefer e-books to printed books? Why?

Yes/ Convenient

No/ Eye strain

Yes/ Easy to access

No/ Eye strain

No/ Slower

7. What kind of books are your textbooks? Why?

E-books/ Cheaper, convenient

E-books/ Cheaper

E-books/ Cheaper, mobility

Printed books/ Easier to mark

E-books/ Cheaper

8. Have you ever used digital book system in the library? How useful it is?

Yes/ Very useful

Yes/ Fairly useful

Yes/ Mostly useful

Yes/ Fairly useful

Yes/ Very useful

9. Do you think e-book is a good choice for academic reading

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

...

...

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