Old vs. New: The Tablet vs. The Textbook

By Shani Isaac

As fall arrives, so does the process of preparing for college courses. One of the many ways in which college students prepare for the year ahead of them is by purchasing textbooks in order to succeed in their courses, while trying not to break the bank.

The year of 2014 marks the year where the price of attending college has been at its highest, among other things. While room, board and tuition weigh heavily on people’s minds, it is sometimes the price of books that breaks the bank . According to CollegeData.com, the national average cost of textbooks is currently $1,207 in public institutions, and $1,253 at private institutions. Here at UVI, according to their website, however, the average cost of textbooks per year is $1,703.  This includes other supplies needed for school.

With the advent of the internet, textbooks have become available for purchase via ebooks which can be accessed via a phone or tablet, and even a computer. Much of the time, ebooks are up to 80 percent cheaper than their physical counterparts, and in a day and age where tablets can be purchased for just 70 dollars (the Kindle Touch being an example), it is an option to be considered.

Textbook VS Tablet (Via: Crazyengineers.com)
Textbook VS Tablet
(Via: Crazyengineers.com)

Investing in a tablet and simply purchasing or even renting, as Amazon and other sites will allow you to, seems to be the wave of the future, a concept that is taking hold quickly in the nation and across the world. According to multiple sources, including Procon.org, tablets contribute to a variety of health problems, including eye-strain, and can also be a distraction to the students in question. There is also the fact that not all college textbooks have been converted to e-book format.

Financial aid does not always cover the purchase of the textbooks needed to complete certain courses, as many UVI students have come to realize. Particularly when it comes to the texts required for upper level courses, prices can run into the upper 200s . Prices have always run slightly higher in the Virgin Islands due to import taxes, but should the student have to suffer even more, having to afford tuition and additional fees, not to mention in some cases, room and board.  Purchasing a tablet and purchasing e-books when available seems  to be a practical and affordable choice.

Another counterargument, particularly from conservatives, is that we are becoming entirely too dependent on technology. Liberals argue that it staunches the consumption of trees for paper, and is far more portable than 4 or 5 texts needing to be carried around all at once.

At the end of the day, while both sides have valid points, any students, new and returning, are searching for solutions to this pressing issue.

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