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Colleges favoring digital yearbooks to traditional hardcover versions

To communicate with their former classmates, more and more students prefer social networking sites over the traditional hardcover yearbook, according to a recent report from the Associated Press (AP). Instead of tangible yearbooks, organizations on campuses across the country are using tools like Facebook to post pictures and create a digital yearbook.

The University of Massachusetts abandoned its yearbook, The Index, three years ago.

“Yearbooks [at UMass] were discontinued because of costs,” said Gloria Fox, director of commencements at UMass. “They could not sell enough to break even,” .

Most UMass students, who were unaware that the University once had yearbooks, thought they were a good idea.

“It is an excellent idea to have yearbooks,” said 19-year-old undeclared freshman Hillary Mahoney. “It’s nice to look back to high school and middle school. Why would college be different?”

“It’s a good idea to keep and hold on to, to see who’s in your class. I probably would buy one,” said Seth Oliver, 20, a French and Spanish double major.

Like Oliver, the majority of students interviewed said that they would buy a yearbook if it was offered their senior year.

“I will never know everyone in the class of 2013,” said Ken Sena, a 19-year-old undeclared freshman, but a yearbook would help.

“I could stumble upon someone later in life and check the book. If they went to school with me, then I could point myself out and say ‘Look we went to school together. Now give me a job,’” Sena joked.

Students did not take as kindly to the idea of a digital yearbook.

“I think you either have one or you don’t,” Oliver said; while Sena simply called it “a terrible idea.”

“Yearbooks are material, they are tangible,” said Mahoney. “Facebook is ever-changing and people may leave.”

Brandon Pelrine saw it differently.

“I think it is a good idea paper-wise,” said the 21-year-old finance major. “There could be a website with photos and people could submit whatever they wanted.”

Major college yearbook publisher Jostens estimates that last year only 1,000 colleges published yearbooks. Jostens declined to comment on this story.

Some websites, like old-yearbooks.com, are digitalizing old yearbooks and posting them on the Internet.

Sam Hayes can be reached at sdhayes@student.umass.edu.

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