Officials at Northwest Missouri State University are looking to save students’ backs and wallets as they begin replacing traditional textbooks with electronic versions, reports the Jefferson City News Tribune. About 4,000 of the university’s 6,500 students are using the electronic textbooks this spring semester, which began Jan. 12. A lightweight electronic device that can fit in a coat pocket will hold the textbook material for all of their classes, with some students downloading the information to their laptops. The pilot electronic textbook program, which university officials and textbook manufacturers say is the most advanced of its kind in the nation, began last fall with four classes and about 200 students. "I think that it’s the way the world is going," said Dean L. Hubbard, the university’s president. Hubbard said the movement is limited by how quickly publishers provide their books in electronic format. "Publishers don’t have all textbooks online yet," he said. "But I would think as a realistic measure we could be totally out of the printed textbook business in three years." Jeffrey Ho, a product manager for textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Education, said many colleges are using electronic textbooks, but Northwest Missouri’s plan to eventually eliminate them puts it at the head of the pack. Student reaction to the program has been mixed. Sophomore Mike Jenkins, 19, said he liked the concept and used e-books in his history class last fall. But Jenkins said he did have some technical issues, such as not being able to view an entire page on the screen and that you need good light to read the screen…

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