Students find it is easier to flip through the pages of a hardcover book than scroll down a computer screen, and easier to make notes in the margins of a sheet of paper than use any of the electronic equivalents. One of the major disadvantages of e-books is that because they are only available online, students get to access them predominantly from a PC at their home, library, or laboratory. Unless they have a laptop, they cannot access these e-study materials during class lectures or class discussions. Thus some students find that virtual books have more disadvantages than benefits. A student connected to the internet can easily be distracted by the temptation to surf the net for reasons other than academic; so completing assignments might take longer than usual, although this is purely a matter of personal discipline.
According to a recent survey, many students prefer reading hardcover books citing that it is easier to maintain their focus and is more convenient to have. The real problem with virtual books, according to the respondents, is access. Most of them have a computer station at home to work with, but do not have a laptop or any such device that they can carry to a classroom or any other place for that matter. Also, almost 80% of the respondents admitted to have been distracted while surfing the net, holding them back from reading the study information they intended to search for. Hardcover books certainly minimize the distraction factor and furthermore allow students to mark up pages with underlines, highlights, bookmarks, and notes to use as reference points. More often than not, online books do not have these features.
Annotators--learners who make critical or explanatory notes or comment--prefer hardcover textbooks over virtual books because the act of annotating is as easy as just picking up a pen. Today students are forced to spend a lot of time before computers for a variety of college work such as essay development, research, and other projects. In which case, hardcover books can be a welcome alternative to the computer screen as sitting long hours before the flashing screen can take a toll on the person's vision and general wellbeing.
Bottom line--hardcover books are a lot cheaper and are more convenient to use. On the other hand, one cannot emphasize enough the fact that by encouraging students to use these ecofriendly e-books instead of printed ones, countless trees are saved.