Uganda: Is This the Beginning of the End of Text Books?

GONE are the days when everything that had to be read was only found in printed books tucked away somewhere in the library or bookstore. With the advent of the computer, for some people especially in the education world, it is no longer necessary to storm libraries or bookstores for text books.
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People use e-books and other kinds of soft copies which they read on their computers. All one needs to carry is a flash disk, a CD or a laptop, instead of books.

The biggest advantage of soft copies is that they are not bulky. On a tiny memory stick, one can carry all the information they need. Moreover, most of these soft copies are crafted in such a way that they are easier to use than text books. It is easier to navigate through the soft copy than in a book.

For example, with a soft copy, one does not need to go to the index to look for the topic and the pages will appear. All one needs is to type the word and use the search tool. The computer will show every place in the document where the word appears.


The soft copies are also easier to work with in cases where one needs to transfer information. One can copy a complex diagram directly from the soft copy instead of carrying a text book to a scanner to get the image.

Another advantage of the soft copy is that it is cost-effective. Textbooks, especially university ones, are expensive. One soft copy of a book can be accessed by many people, as long as they have computers. Whereas there might be only a single copy of the text book in the library, a soft copy can be made available to every student.

Some soft copies can even be animated, something that is not possible with hard copies, and they are rarely destroyed. Even when they are corrupted, say by computer viruses, they can be obtained because one will mostly have kept a copy some where else.

One only wonders if this is the beginning of the end of the good old textbook, just like cassette tapes were wiped away by CDs, DVDs and flash disks.

Apart from books which are used for academic purposes, most other types of books exist, depending on the purpose.

l These are books which are read for pleasure, for example, novels. There are few people who read novels in soft copies and complete them. Most people who try to read the novels usually get bored before they are half way through. Even those who complete them, it is usually because they can not access the hard copy.

The rigidity of the computer which requires that one must be in a particular posture while using it is the disadvantage in this case. Even a laptop is not as free to use as a book. Sometimes, one may want to go to the riverside, or to the bush to read without interruption, in which case, using a computer is not a good idea. 

l Books can also have sentimental value; where, for example, one may feel good reading a book that was given to him by his father, who, probably, has since passed on. In some cases the Dad might have scribbled some words in the book, and because such arouse the memories, one derives sentimental satisfaction.

This is not possible with soft copies. Some people also give their friends books as gifts, while others even look out for autographs of the authors of the books they buy, because of the meaning attached to them.

However much computer technology will develop, there will always be the need to have books printed.

Source: allafrica news