OPINION: Don't be so quick to get rid of print textbooks – Daily Nebraskan

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Updated: September 21, 2021 @ 11:43 pm

Opinion columnist
This semester, I’m enrolled in a total of eight classes. I’m pretty much on my laptop all day, reading textbooks and completing classwork on Canvas. At the end of each day, I’ve consistently noticed that my eyes are tired, my energy is depleted and it takes me centuries to fall asleep. 
Part of the problem started when I first enrolled in my classes. I started receiving emails from my professors informing me that e-books had been automatically purchased for me through my account. I was a bit disappointed at first, knowing that I probably could’ve found books for much cheaper if I’d looked on my own. I was also disappointed because I honestly despise reading textbooks online. 
This can be attributed to the multitude of negative side effects that an overabundance of screen time causes. 
Online textbooks offer a great number of benefits compared to traditional textbooks; however, too much screen time causes various effects on students that can negatively impact their health, sleep cycle and learning. 
Reading e-books causes negative effects toward health and general wellness, which is especially crucial for students. Reading online for a long period of time can cause physical strain to the eyes and body, and could possibly lead to retina damage. 
A prolonged amount of screen time also causes students to sleep less. Too much blue light during the evening or night interferes with production of melatonin, the REM sleep cycle and causes grogginess or reduced alertness in the morning. 
As a college student myself, I can personally attest to this statement: after staying up before bed to finish a reading or assignment online, I am more exhausted than usual upon awakening and find it more difficult to get ready for my morning workout. 
Students also learn better by reading textbooks instead of e-books. A study showed that students comprehend the material better when they read print textbooks rather than e-books. 
Personally, when I’ve been staring at a screen for too long, my vision starts to lose focus and I realize I read an entire passage or section without retaining any information. 
Some students, like myself, also just prefer having an actual book in their hands rather than reading online. 
In fact, a study showed that 76% of college students prefer textbooks over e-books. Both professors and students saw that print textbooks hold more educational value than e-books or digital courseware.
Although the majority of students prefer textbooks, e-books have many benefits when it comes to convenience. Instead of lugging around a heavy bookbag, an e-book is weightless. E-books also tend to be cheaper, and some can even be found for free on the internet. Pearson textbook sales declined 30% in 2019, most likely due to price. 
Although sometimes my bank account and the thought of a constant sore shoulder lead me to opt for an online textbook, I still prefer the feel of the pages between my fingers, the smell of opening a new book. I like being able to scribble notes in the sides, underline words or sentences and make it my own. When I finish reading and stick in my bookmark, whatever kind of book it may be, I somehow feel more satisfied and content than just exiting a tab. 
The world is moving online, and I theorize that one day, libraries will be filled solely with computers rather than books. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also essential to keep up with modern times where convenience and price are the most important factors. However, print textbooks should not be completely ruled out just yet, and college students should always have an option when it comes to their preference for classwork.
Emerson McClure is a sophomore journalism and advertising & public relations major. Reach her at [email protected].
Opinion columnist
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