I was intrigued to read in the New York Times this week that five universities -- including one from the Ivy League --- will participate in a pilot program to replace hard copy textbooks on campuses with electronic textbooks. This is trend-setting. In the last few years, individual students and classes have chosen to use eBooks instead of hardcopy books, but never have whole campuses shifted in that direction. Until now.
Besides convenience, the main benefit to students will be a reduction in cost, which is great considering the constantly rising cost of college courses. The benefit to the environment will be less tree consumption and waste.
The participating sites are Cornell University, the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin, the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Minnesota.
I don't want to reveal my age, but when I was in college, I remember writing a paper on whether paper books could ever be replaced by digital books. This was way before Kindle was even within the realm of imagination. I wrote some romantic devotion to hardbound books, opining on the tactile sensations of experiencing a book through my fingertips and how flipping pages and writing in margins with my pen while lying in the grass would never become extinct. Change, though, is a beautiful and welcome thing.
I've always been a bibliophile -- and I still have a few books from my university days: a collection of feminist works and a collection of poetry. I suspect though that my children will have no such thing. In fact, perhaps when they are eventually in college, students will be studying texts from microchips embedded in their heads.