Textbooks Come to the IPod

The digital versions would be cheaper, but will students read them (or use them to cheat more)?

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College students will soon be able to view their textbooks using iPhones or iPod Touch devices, PC World reports.

CourseSmart, a California company that has already made more than 7,000 digitized textbooks from 12 publishers available to its subscribers through their computers, recently added E-textbooks for the iPhone to its offerings. Users can download the application that allows them to read the new iPod-friendly texts for free through Apple's App Store, but users are required to pay for the textbooks themselves at a fee that is about 60 to 75 percent of a traditional book's cost.

PC World writer Todd Weiss points out that there are some drawbacks to this new offering:

First, we're talking about reading a large textbook on a small iPhone or iPod Touch screen. It may be neat to imagine, but it may not be so easy to use, especially when you are looking for information and you just can't seem to locate it on the device's small screen. How likely is it that students will actually want to do this and will find it as productive as reading a traditional paper book? And what happens when your Internet connection is down and you can't access your books? Believe me, this will happen sometimes.

Then there's the potential for cheating at exam time when students can stealthily view their iPod to get information from an e-textbook to answer a tough exam question. Hey, it could happen. Maybe you'll have to leave your iPhones and iPod Touches at the door as you enter the exam room to prevent cheating. Could we eventually see students being patted down by hand for their iPhones or iPod Touches at exam time as they enter the room?

Would you like to read a textbook on your iPhone? Let us know in the comments section below.

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