Florida college looks to become eBook pioneer

The study, released in May, also found that more than half of college students surveyed on 19 campuses said they “were unsure about purchasing digital textbooks or would not consider buying them even if they were available.”

Laura Cozart, a research manager for NACS, said the overwhelming preference for traditional textbooks was “not surprising,” because “every new innovation takes time before the mainstream population embraces it.”

However, 41 percent of students said they “regularly” access reading materials from the BlackBerries, iPhones, and similar devices, according to the NACS survey.

Faculty at another Florida college, Florida State College at Jacksonville, grabbed educators’ attention last year when they created 20 electronic textbooks accessible on a free online platform that lets students take notes in the margins, search for key terms, and share notes with peers and professors through an interactive social-networking feature.

And students who use the eBooks aren’t limited to contact with their professors and fellow students. Any student from any campus in the world can share content and study notes with any other student if they’re using the same web-based textbook.

Colleges and universities have traditionally cut textbook costs by partnering with a single publisher, allowing the school to buy massive book orders at a discount and sell them for less in the campus book store.

The Daytona State eBook plan would let instructors and professors choose which publisher to work with and for how long. This, Spiwak has been told when discussing the initiative with others in higher education, could prove a major roadblock in the school’s path toward an all-eBook campus.

“We’ve been told that we’ll fail, that this is too hard,” he said. “Well, they don’t know us. … There will be no textbooks in the future. How quick that future is we’ll all have to wait and see.”

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