With the advent of tablet devices, whole textbooks can now fit in the palm of one’s hand.

It’s heralded the start of a cheaper, more portable study revolution.

Sam Canavan reports.


Traditional study methods are being shaken up as students and universities alike embrace the digital age.

Electronic textbooks are increasing in popularity, particularly due to the invention of tablets such as the Kindle and iPad.

They enable interactive textbooks with their colour display, touch screen, internet access and capacity to accommodate thousands of applications.

Susan Hetherington, Journalism Academic: “They don’t just need to be text, you can include video, you can include audio, you can include other kinds of references

Institutions such as QUT are beginning to use the technology, and it’s proving popular.

Student 1: “I have tried them renting through the library and it’s pretty good.”

But the biggest appeal to cash-strapped students is the price.

It’s estimated around 50 per cent of book expense stems from paper, and forking out for new books each semester is a costly exercise.

Student 2: “Q: So how much would you typically spend on textbooks a semester?” “Around three hundred and fifty to four hundred.”

Student 3: “Six hundred. Six hundred, so that’s a pretty big cost.”

Student 4: “Three hundred and fifty to four hundred.”

Students think their use should be more widespread.

Student 5: “If e-textbooks were available, I would definitely have it because it would be easier, it would be cheaper and it would be good on the iPad.”

The only obstacle is there are several operating systems competing for consumer dollars.

Many experts believe it will ultimately be a two-horse race between Kindle and iPad.

It’s a fight similar to VHS and Beta, or BlueRay and DVD-HD.

Susan Hetherington, Journalism Academic: “At some point we’re going to have to get a grip of this and choose one technology that we can all agree on.”

Neither side is willing to concede defeat, but in the end it doesn’t really matter who wins the e-book battle, the big loser will be hard cover textbooks.

Sam Canavan, QUT News