Elgin Community College pilots e-textbooks this fall
By Emily McFarlan firstname.lastname@example.org July 31, 2012 6:52PM
A tower of books for the nursing program are stacked up against the e-textbook program of the same reading material at the Elgin Community College library. The ECC bookstore is comparing how many books nursing students generally are required to purchase and carry to the equipment needed for the college's first e-textbook program. The college is rolling out the e-textbooks for its nursing program as a pilot and hopes to expand it further. July 31, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:16AM
ELGIN — For the first time, purchasing textbooks might actually leave students’ wallets heavier and backpacks lighter.
That’s because Elgin Community College is piloting its first electronic-textbook program this coming school year for its nursing students, something it said it hopes to expand to other areas of study if the program goes well.
“Now is the time interest is really gaining in e-books,” said Kelly Strossner, director of the Elgin Community College bookstore.
“I think that’s for a variety of reasons. There are a lot more study tools available in the electronic format, multimedia features, note sharing and bookmarks. … And also, publishers are becoming more aggressive in their pricing for e-books.”
The timing makes sense particularly for nursing students, Strossner said.
Not only do e-books in general have more features and lower prices than they have in the past — even 30 to 40 percent cheaper than traditional books — but also all the entire package of required books the community college already uses in its nursing program now is available electronically, she said.
Carting texts around
It also is an area of study that requires a lot of book, 500- to 600-page books students carry with them for reference in class, according to Wendy Miller, dean of health professions at Elgin Community College.
“The main impetus was the cost, as well as the weight of all the books the students are required to have in the program,” Miller said. “They basically carry them around in suitcases or backpacks with wheels. This was a way to make that more manageable.”
Nursing students still can purchase their textbooks the old-fashioned way, according to the college.
For first-year nursing students, that will come to about $1,600 and 68.5 pounds of books, Miller said.
That’s so many books, Strossner added, “When the students come to pick them up, we actually give them two boxes of books.”
And Miller said, “They moan and groan when they go in the bookstore at the beginning of the semester.”
The e-textbooks come out to about $1,000 and can be downloaded and accessed on any Internet-enabled device, she said.
Most laptops weigh in at an average 2.25 pounds, according to the college.
The community college said it hopes students who do not already have a laptop or iPad may be able to afford one with the money they will save on textbooks.
The newest iPad starts at $499, according to Apple.com.
The Elgin Community College bookstore began selling books in mid-July for the 2012-13 school year. The fall semester begins Monday, Aug. 20.