Print VS. e-books

[Reprinted from Rowan University’s “The Whit” on Sept. 23, 2010. To comment:]

E-reading devices may one day replace books and textbooks.

While the technology is still in its relative infancy, e-books and e-textbooks may soon become institutionalized for college students. According to media industry analyst Simba Information, e-textbooks will account for at least 11 percent of textbook sales by 2013.

“I love it,” said M. Larry Litwin, public relations professor at Rowan University. “It’s the trend; it’s where it’s going. Anything we can do as faculty to save students money on books, without compromising the content, we should do.”

Litwin himself has authored two books – “The Public Relations Practitioner’s Playbook” and “The ABCs of Strategic Communication” – that are also available on e-reading devices. Students can buy his books on Amazon’s Kindle and even highlight text like they normally could in traditional textbooks. Litwin plans on allowing The ABCs of Strategic Communication to update itself on e-reading devices automatically.

“I want to do (The ABCs of Strategic Communications) totally online so I can update it at my convenience,” Litwin said.

On the contrary, Carl Hausman, both a professor of journalism at Rowan and author of 20 books, still enjoys print. “For a lot of applications, I would still choose the book,” Hausman said. “It’s not that I’m old, which I am. I just like the book technology.”

When asked about the money involved in publishing e-books, Litwin explained how much more lucrative electronic publication is. Print publications are bogged down by printing costs. The author of an academic textbook will get between 10 and 20 percent of the book cost. With e-books not having to worry about printing obligations, authors can gross more with electronic publications. tells its authors, “We are excited to have launched the 70 percent royalty option for books published through DTP on the Amazon Kindle and Kindle Applications for PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android phones.”

Although a textbook may cost $40, Litwin explained, the royalties for it only amount to about $6 per copy. Litwin still prefers physical books on a personal level. “I’m a traditionalist. The accessibility of having hard copy might be easier.”

Although he sees the advantages of both, when asked about print’s future, Hausman summed it up best saying, “I don’t think the book will disappear.”