The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article up-- "6 Lessons One Campus Learned About E-Textbooks". In an effort to reduce student textbook costs (yay) and backpack loads (yay), Northwest Missouri State University ran a pilot study on electronic books and how they really work out for students.
If you're not up on the e-book trends, the two big players in the game right now are the Sony Reader and the Amazon Kindle (we have a first-gen Kindle at the library-- ask for it at the desk if you want to check it out). The latest Kindle model is lighter, thinner, and hopes to win over college students with its larger and improved display screen.
One of the major advantages that proponents of e-books point out is reduced cost, but there are some factors to consider before proclaiming a price victory. A paperback copy of the DSM-IV-TR Handbook of Differential Diagnosis costs $60.30; the Kindle copy costs $44.00. So you save $16.30 by purchasing the Kindle copy, but you also shelled out $359.00 or $489.00 for the Kindle, in the first place. And you can't sell back your Kindle edition at the end of the semester.
What do you think? My college roommate would have been spared a lot of back pain if she'd been able to take one e-reader to all of her classes instead of hauling around four massive business textbooks at a time. I was an English major, and I always wanted the page numbers I was looking at to match the ones in the book my professor was holding, so we could always "be on the same page" (haha) in class discussions.
Do you think the learning curve for the device would be worth it? Is it weird to think about needing a power cord for your books, or is that just part of life (we charge everything else)? Which environmental impact seems worse to you-- killing a lot of trees (which are a renewable resource), or saving some forests but ending up with yet another toxic battery that you're not sure how to dispose of 5 years from now? Would you go for an e-textbook reader?