In the coming weeks, tens of thousands of college students will load their families' minivans, and experience the sweltering chaos of Move-In Day. Upperclassmen in matching T-shirts will volunteer their brawn and brio, as they lug assorted trunks into teeming freshmen dorms. But this year, besides the shot glass collections, the contraband panini makers, and the bulk supplies of Vitamin Water, some of the heavy lifting will be eliminated - thanks to fewer books.
According to research from the National Association of College Stores, one quarter of all college students prefer electronic textbooks to the old-fashioned print versions. What's more, nearly 1 in 5 students made an e-book purchase last semester. Among them, 57 percent did so to obtain required course materials. And the move towards e-readers doesn't seem to be slowing down.
What then will become of college libraries? Will the shelves stay full for posterity's sake, even as virtual libraries become students' leading research destinations? Or will universities find a way to monetize all that extra space? Here are some ideas colleges might want to borrow.