Alternative Solutions to the Rising Costs of Books
The concept books comes into an existence because of the needs to store information and pass the same information to the next generation. Books have been used for several centuries dated back to the time of bronze age. However, books have passed through revolutionary changes starting from when people write on clay to the time when books have been converted into an electronic format. Earlier books were meant to keep observations and records. Several years afterwards, books have found their places in academics, literatures, politics, and poetry. Over the years, books have witnessed changes of being imprinted from clay to paper. However, rapid development of information technology has transformed books from paper to paperless format and delivered to users in an electronic form generally referred as e-books. E-books refers to the transfer of books into an electronic format where readers are able to access the books' contents through electronic devices such as computer system, iPad, Cellular or Tablets. Typically, e-books have become immensely popular among casual readers and students and many journals and articles are currently being published using the electronic format.
Effective reading of quality books has been the primary factors that can enhance students' academic success. Amount of reading is consistence related to a growth in vocabulary, verbal fluency and growth in reading comprehension. More importantly, success of students in the university has been linked to availability of quality and affordable books. Quality books enhance students' analytical and critical thinking skills, which enhance students' efficiency in a workplace. Despite the importance of books for an academic success, many students often complain about the increase in the prices of traditional print books. Typically, students complain that prices of books keep increasing making many students facing challenges in having access to quality books for their academic purposes. (Hermida, 2009, Knobelsdorff,2012). However, bookstore managers of various universities maintain that books are sold at breakeven prices.
Increase in prices of printed books has made large number of students to consider believe that electronic books (e-books) can serve as an alternative to printed books. Within the last eight years, the demand for e-books has risen significantly. Factors that lead to an increase in the demand for e-books include low cost of producing e-books, and rapid technological development. Moreover, introduction of e-readers devices such as Amazon Kindle, and Sony Reader has made increasing number of students to shift to web-based and electronic books as an alternative to printed books in order to overcome constant increase of prices of the traditional printed books.
Objective of this paper is to carry out the research to find the best alternative to printed books. The paper compares printed books with web-based books using different criteria that include price of the books, shipping costs, book buyback program, availability and students' opinions about books' purchased. The paper also investigates whether e-books can assist students receive quality academic contents similar to print books.
Rapid transition from print books to electronic books in the last few years has made electronic books to become a major topic of discussion among management of public and school libraries in Bermuda and across the United States. Typically, over two third of public libraries in the United States provide access to electronic books. Since 1970s, e-books have become a major topic of discussion within public libraries across the country. The origin of e-books was traced to Gutenberg...
However, there was no mass market of e-books during this period, readers could only view the Gutenberg's project through desktop computer. Moreover, the project could only be accessed with a limited remote host-database. The introduction of e-readers such as Amazon Kindle introduced in 2007, and Barnes & Noble's in 2009 and Kobo make increasing number of users to gradually turn to e-books as an alternative to traditional print books. Moreover, increase in the cost of print books and rapid development of information technology has made the demand of e-books to increase rapidly.(Besen, & Kirby, 2012).
The study intends to find an alternative to the traditional print books because many students complain about rising costs of traditional books. Typically, the issues need to be investigated because rising costs of books can make increasing number of students to drop out of the institutions leading to the decline in students' population. Moreover, the increase in the costs of books can discourage people from attending colleges, which will consequently lead to decline in the total population of students in country. More importantly, a decline in students' population can lead to a decline in the country's GNP per capita. An investigation carried out by the World Bank (2000) on the relationship between level of country's educational enrollments and GNP per capita shows the countries with higher college enrollments record higher GNP per capita than countries with lower college enrollments. The findings of World Bank investigation reveals that there is a positive correlation between the level of college enrollments and a country economic development. Typically, all low income countries record low college enrollments, while virtually all high income countries record high college enrollments. Thus, it is very critical to find solution to the increase in the price of books in order not to reduce college enrollments in the country, which can affect the country's economic development .
Major reason that motivates the author to embark on the study is to persuade the university authorities to provide substitute to the costs of print books. It is essential to realize that book availability and contents are very critical to students' academic success. If the costs of available books are high, students may not be able to have access to these books.
Major reason that motivates the author in investigating the issues is the constant increase of the prices of printed books where the cost of the e-books are lower than the cost of the printed books. Besen, & Kirby (2012) argue that costs of e-books are lower than the costs of printed books . The authors argue that costs of printing, distribution, and acquisition are the major reasons that make the costs of print books to be higher than the costs of e-books.
Moreover, publishers incur costs of quality assurance, and costs of digitized preparation. The easy access of e-books and the cheap prices that electronic books offer to students are its major benefits over the traditional print books. Typically, many online book retailers offer readers or students an opportunity to read free chapters before purchasing the books, and the print books does not offer this type of benefits . For example, many publishers offer free read of first chapter for a prospective buyers. The method assists the reader to evaluate the quality of a book before the book is bought.
Major factor that leads to the increase in the costs of print books in the recent years have been attributed to the significant amount of overheads used to publish books and these overheads include utilities, office space, salaries and benefits. Typically, publishers take enormous risks when signing a publishing agreement with a new author. There is no guarantee that the publisher will derive a steady income from a newly published book after agreement is signed. Since publisher incur enormous costs through printing, distribution and editing, the only way to breakeven is to pass the costs to customers making the readers to pay high prices for a book purchased from a publisher. However, the advent of electronic books has drastically reduced the price of books offered to customer because there is no printing and distribution costs involved. Since e-books production cost does not include printing and distribution costs, naturally, the price of the e-books will be lesser than the costs of print books.
McMaken, (2012) argue that publishers incur 8% for the cost of printing alone. By eliminating the printing costs, the costs of a book will be reduced from $26 to $22.75 . Since the electronic books are delivered in a digital form, the price of most e-books range from $9.99 to $99. Many classic e-books are offered free of charge. Overall benefits that e-books offer to students make this study investigating the issues. (Gray, & Copeland,2012).
However, St. Joesph's Alter Library conducts an investigation on the perception of undergraduate towards the use of e-books, and the outcomes of the research reveal that around 66% of students still prefer print books to e-books (McMaken, 2012). The finding is surprising despite the growth of digital culture in the contemporary library environment. Although, 80% of participants still prefer using both formats. However, a research outcome from the investigation on the use of print books vs. electronic books among the students of the University of California reveal that the usage rates are similar. On the other hand, usage of e-books compared to print books among students at the University of Pittsburg shows that students use twice of the print books. On the other hand,…
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