Are e-books Ready for Your Classroom?

E-book readers and apps have a variety of tools that can enhance learning.
by Arlene Anvitha, ISS-LTC Graduate Assistant

An electronic book(e-book) is a book-publication in digital form, consisting of text, images, or both, readable on computers or other electronic devices.

Did you know that one of the first e-books was created in 1949 by Ángela Ruiz Robles? It was her effort to reduce the number of textbooks her pupils carried to school. Her first e-book was very similar to modern e-books today with features like a backlight, replaceable subjects and push buttons.

Classrooms have started changing since the era of Information Revolution caused by the Internet. Assignments and tests have moved to online platforms from the traditional pen-and-paper. However, many instructors have been slow to accept e-books into their pedagogy.

E-book readers and apps have a variety of tools which enhance learning:

  • text narration
  • word highlighting
  • access to word definitions
  • searchable text and hyperlinks


There are many myths around the use, cost, and functionality of e-books.  It’s time we uncover some of these myths to gain a better understanding of their potential.  

E-readers are expensive! 

Most e-readers are reasonably priced. There is a wide range starting from $60 to $180. And most of the readers come pre-loaded with a few free books. Not to mention, buying e-books thereafter is very cheap.

They might be distracting! 

Most e-readers including the Kindle family and the Nook are dedicated e-readers and are actually less distracting than laptops or tablets.

E-books can be read only on one device. 

Most companies that sell e-readers have apps for the desktop as well as smartphones. How easy is reading on the go!

Don’t they cause eyestrain?

E-readers are mostly built for reading. The introduction of e-ink which makes the screen look just like paper. It is a highly sought out feature that has considerably less eyestrain than LCD screens.


Now that we have tackled a few popular myths, let’s take a look at the many advantages of e-books.

Lesser load for students:  

Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics states “Students carrying heavier backpacks relative to their body weight were more likely to report back pain, wearing a backpack weighing less than 20% of the student’s body weight is recommended.” Having less textbooks to haul around would definitely make students happy and healthy.


They cost much less compared to traditional paper textbooks. Even the cost of printing out the e-books is much less.


Font size, contrast and other display settings can be adjusted for students with visual disabilities. Narration and audio settings can be used to help students with reading/learning disabilities.

Student Engagement: 

There are options for personalized content, annotations, taking notes and highlights. This makes student engagement more achievable.

More tools in the future: 

New features including determining reading pace and social interaction are being brought out, which will also increase student engagement.


Some of the resources to search for downloading e-books in PDF format are:

Creating Your Own e-Book for Student Use: 

How can you let students read e-books on their e-readers? It’s easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Have a PDF file with the content you want in your e-book.
  2. Go to or any free PDF to ePub conversion website, upload your PDF file and convert and download the ePub format.
  3. Your students can now read the e-book on multiple devices including Kobo eReader, BlackBerry devices, Barnes & Noble Nook, Amazon Kindle Fire, Sony Reader, BeBook etc.

There is a very promising future for the use of e-books in the classroom. It is highly likely that e-books are going to replace traditional textbooks considerably in the coming days. Go ahead and start using e-books. They will definitely make a lot of aspects of the classroom easier and better.




  3. Gardiner, Eileen and Ronald G. Musto. “The Electronic Book.” The Oxford Companion to the Book. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 164
  4. University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
  5. Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics. March/April 2004


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