According to a story from NPR, a small college in Missouri is testing out etextbooks this semester, in anticipation of using exclusively digital textbooks soon, presumably next fall. Evidently, the groundwork was partially laid by the school’s policy of issuing laptops to all incoming students. In addition:

Northwest Missouri State is in a unique position to go entirely digital: In addition to the laptops, students rent all their textbooks from the college. So when a comprehensive selection became available digitally, [President] Hubbard decided to make the switch.

I’ve got to admire their bravery, especially without even using dedicated ereader devices. I can’t imagine doing all my studying in front of a computer screen, but perhaps this is simply a matter of adjustment.

The article mentions good and bad feedback from students, and in addition to some obvious drawbacks, etextbooks also have some very nice advantages; I’d put searching inside them and embedded video at the top of the list.

Hopefully this news will serve to light a fire under Plastic Logic and other companies. There’s a whole lot of money to be made on students, and once colleges start working out ways to make their bookstore ducats and simultaneously go paperless, the switch might just happen with or without dedicated devices.

[via NPR]