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The Transformation of the Textbook (wired.com)
37 points by merrier 67 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments



Their argument that digital textbook users retain less info is tenuous at best. I used a digital book for Calculus I & II and thought it was easy to use, convenient to carry around, and helped me learn more.


On the contrary, I find physical textbooks to be largely superior to digital mediums.

You aren't limited by DRM imposed by the various educational companies. (I loved only being able to download and print 5 sequential pages at a time when you're looking at printing a page of questions for each chapter)

I find it more engaging with using a real textbook. You can feel the pages, write in the margins, not be distracted by things like apps, etc. on the same device.

It's so much easier and faster to flip a section of pages when you want to quickly flip between different chapters/pages for referencing other parts of the textbook as opposed to janky UIs.

I know we're both being anecdotal, but it seems like my opinion is going the way of the dodo, considering the younger generations grew up with staring at tablets/screens from day one so they're used to it.


I agree. I print or buy the book for anything I want to read in depth. The ease of sticking a finger or scrap of paper between pages for easy reference is vastly underrated.

Also underrated is how easy it is find find something in paper book, based basically on how thick the two sides feel in your hand.


Apple Books usually don’t have DRM so I buy those.

Also, iOS 13 is finally adding highlighting for PDFs, which I’ve found to be frustrating.

Now I can highlight and markup the page with Apple Pencil before I print something.


It would have been great to have digital textbooks in university. I had to walk a lot to get around campus, and I could only carry at the very most three textbooks at the time. Not having access to all of my books at all times was definitely an impediment to learning.


Here's hoping this spurs Amazon to bring back a large format e-ink reader.


>Here's hoping this spurs Amazon to bring back a large format e-ink reader.

Ideally with color support. Color does so much for learning, whether it's syntax-highlighted code samples or microbiology explanations.


I would think you'd want something more like an Android or Apple tablet using a format (maybe PDF) that let you annotate/make notes using a pen or keyboard. (As well as the usual bookmarks etc.)

Also, looking back at my notes and other materials from school I usually ended up with a few hundred pages of paper from a given class. Whether or not that all transitioned to digital for initial creation, you probably would ideally like to archive all the materials from a class together in one place.


I dislike reading long-form text on backlit screens. All those features you mentioned sound great, but I can't read an iPad for hours on end.


There is reMarkable that some people seem to like a lot. The problem with epaper though is that it doesn't work great when you depend on color or rich graphics generally and it's hard to guarantee that textbooks won't have those sorts of dependencies.


There are many aspects of the digital platforms that have promise (or already have proved to help students). But a person has to be wary. These folks are out to make money, as corporations should, and not necessarily to help s students learn.


so essentially the physical books are expensive purely to pad out their bottom line? digital is a poor replacement for physical books in my experience


Breaking: Market predicated almost entirely upon rent-seeking behavior is upended by digital content.

This seems to be happening more than a decade after it should have.


How are Pearson digital/DRM/controlled access books not rent seeking?

My son used some Pearson books in high school. He doesn't "have" them anymore.




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