E-books provide ease, convenience for students

Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff Credit: Michelle Liu/Photo Staff
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The University of Pittsburgh’s Hillman Library recently unveiled its newest gadget, the Espresso Book Machine. This literature printing system, from On Demand Books LLC, has a digital storage system of numerous academic text files and the capability to quickly print, cover, and bind multiple types of books. This accommodates, but is not limited to, textbooks, paperbacks, and university publications.

Rather than having to wait for books to ship, Pitt students will soon have the option of utilizing the Espresso Book Machine to order and print textbooks and other materials on site. This process is less expensive and more efficient than traditional means of textbook acquisition — a 600-page book can be printed in less than nine minutes at only a penny a page in production costs.

Although “efficient” and “low-cost” are phrases that today’s prudent college students love to hear, a more high-tech approach should be considered before demolishing a few forests. The encouragement of e-books and paperless technology in the educational world would ultimately be more promising than additional book printing apparatuses.

In the case of the Espresso Book Machine, the literature is already available on digital files within the machine. Instead of using resources for start-up and production costs of the system, allocating that capital for making said text files more easily accessible to students would be a wiser approach, due to the increasingly computer-intensive nature of college.

Internet textbooks have already been implemented in many undergraduate courses at Carnegie Mellon. Dinesh Ayyapan, a junior mechanical engineering major, uses an Internet textbook for his Differential Equations class and noted that they “have everything you need without taking up shelf space.”

E-books can also consolidate what students carry to class and the library. First-year electrical engineering major Samantha Klonaris remarked, “The ‘E’ in e-books should stand for easy, because they are lightweight and you can access them from almost anywhere on campus.” Essentially, students could turn their laptops into Kindle-type devices, with an astounding amount of information at their fingertips.

Having such an information hub would be quite the progression from lugging around textbooks. Mass printing, which has been around for thousands of years, seems to be regressive in comparison to paperless strategies. Utilizing the growing field of technology would not only conserve paper and protect trees, but would likely be the cheapest and most convenient way to go about course supplementation.