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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Students prefer print to digital

Yet another study found that roughly 75% of students prefer print to digital. The recent BISG study, Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education, mirrors similar earlier findings by both the Student PIRGs and NACS. The NACS data went beyond this particular finding to ask if student preference for print over digital was their primary reason not to buy digital. The NACS data saw a significant shift in recent years away from this preference being the primary reason not to buy -- with the availability of digital inventory and faculty preference and usage of print over digital quickly growing among the top reasons why students choose to buy print over digital.

Among other interesting stats from the BISG study 60% of students say they place a high value on their textbooks, and roughly 65% of those are still buying their textbooks from the college store. While promising, this does suggest significant loss of market share among college stores over the past decade. In fact the BISG study found that 20% of students are buying their textbooks from Amazon.com, and more than 40% said they bought a textbook from a pirate site or know others who have. Price and convenience are key drivers in this shift -- similar to the factors that initially stimulated piracy in the music industry.

Regardless, these data points should be leading collegiate retailers to ask some tough questions about their product mix, the return of revenues, market share retention, and how they compete online.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You make a good point professor. Moving forward this is not a question of placing ones bet on the survival of print or the growth of digital. Our challenge is to remain relevant and accommodate the transition to the new mix of both forms of materials -which will be certainly different than yesterday's mix.

College stores are in an exciting time where their retail business models are being digitized at the same time as their primary products.