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Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014 10:00 am | Updated: 11:52 am, Fri Aug 22, 2014

From Purdue Exponent

Students looking to avoid the hassle of heavy backpacks this fall have an alternative to the traditional print textbooks: eBooks.

Electronic versions of textbooks are not only becoming popular among students, but within Purdue’s libraries as well. According to Suzanne Ward, the head of collection management of Purdue Libraries, the University has a growing collection of eBooks that students can access 24/7.

 “The libraries are starting to make a conscious effort to buy eBook versions of books that are required for classes,” Ward said. “We’re trying our best to get e-versions of those that allow access by multiple people at the same time.”

She described some of the issues the libraries face in terms of acquiring textbooks. Most publishers refuse to sell small quantities of the textbooks to the University, so as a result, Ward and her colleagues began exploring the option of eBooks. Oftentimes publishers will release the electronic versions of their textbooks a year or two after the print version comes out, so a majority of the eBooks within Purdue Libraries fall under the “supplemental reading” category.

“Unfortunately, we can’t afford to get everything in both formats, so we have to do the best we can in choosing which format to get things in,” Ward said.

Aside from the benefit of a lighter backpack throughout the day, eBooks allow students to search for keywords that may not appear in the index, copy and paste passages for papers and highlight excerpts. Formats may differ depending on the publisher or vendor, but most versions are user-friendly.

Ward believes the availability of eBooks that allow multiple users to access a document at one time will become higher in the next five to ten years. To learn more about Purdue Libraries and how to access its resources, visit lib.purdue.edu.