Book summaries on DVD gaining college student following

Taline Helwajian

This weekend, avoid the overcrowded movie theaters and noisy nightclubs and stay home with a good book. Better yet, how about a book on DVD? Sound out of the ordinary? Well, one company is making it happen.

Rocketbook is an Oregon-based company that is releasing books on DVD that allows students to pop in and watch narrated summaries of texts, take quizzes and even listen to analysis on their own time.

Steve Emerson is the founder and creator of Rocketbook, a company he named for speed and technology. He came up with the idea for the company while earning a minor in English literature at Pepperdine University. He found himself often using Cliffs Notes and movies to better understand the text he was studying.

“The more information I had, the better chance I had of standing out in class,” Emerson said.

Many movies, however, have little to do with the original text, so the viewer can never be sure he or she is getting accurate information about the original book.

Rocketbook allows for concise and correct information rather than just a Hollywood take on it.

The reaction to Rocketbook has been positive, Emerson said. There has been “overwhelming enthusiasm” from students.

Emerson said that Pepperdine University initially rejected any kind of shortcut guides.

He, however, contacted the English Department at the university and received a lot of good feedback from professors about using these study guides as reading supplements. Pepperdine now stocks the DVD’s and is currently being sold on more than 100 campuses across the country.

“Professors want visual stimulation” for their students, Emerson said. Some professors even want to write for our future DVD’s, he said.

Some students may mistreat Rocketbook by using it as their sole source about a text rather than reading it and that is not its purpose, Emerson said.

“I don’t think they’re a good idea,” said Mike Huerta, freshman kinesiology major.

But there are pros and cons.

It would not be necessary to take a book to class, but if a student wants to refer to something in the DVD, it would not be accessible, he said.

Currently there are 12 titles available, including “The Crucible,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “1984.” Within the next three years, 60 additional titles will be released, including “A Tale of Two Cities” and “Wuthering Heights.”

The Rocketbook website will also have changes in the fall.

Stephen Patton, sophomore psychology major, believes the DVDs are a bad idea. He feels students who are too lazy to read a book will be too lazy to watch a DVD also.

Some students may even stop going to class, he said.

English Professor Kitty Nard, however, feels that the DVDs would be helpful to students in analyzing a book.

“If they rely solely on that, they are missing the art,” she said.

Professor Nard is all for a supplement to a reading that will help students understand material better.

The DVDs feature narration by Drew Lavey, who has appeared on “EXTRA” and On-Air with Ryan Seacrest as an interviewer and reporter.

Students can also send recommendations of books they would like to see on DVD through the

Taline Helwajian can be reached at tmh70066@csun.edu.