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Monday, May 16, 2011

Rentals Keep Print the Top Choice on Campus

A survey from Student Monitor found that devices such as the Apple iPad are making gains on campus, but the printed textbook remains alive and well thanks to rental options. The study, detailed on Inside Higher Ed, found that 24% of the surveyed 1,200 full-time students at four-year institutions rented course materials, up from 12% the year before.

Those who rented saved an average of $127. The rental trend should continue to rise, since 36% of underclassmen said they are likely or very likely to rent a textbook next year. Campus bookstores remain the most popular source for rentals, thanks to their efforts to get out in front of the trend. Yet students said they were most satisfied with their experience using the textbook rental site Chegg.com because of price, punctual delivery, and ease of use.

On the electronic side, just 5% of those surveyed said they purchased access to an e-textbook during the spring, and only 2% bought e-texts for more than one class.

However, that may be about to change. The survey found that while just 8% of the students owned an iPad, nearly half expressed interest in buying the device. Students also placed the iPad alongside coffee—but behind beer—when asked to rate media and “lifestyle” choices.

In fact, “drinking beer” was the only nontech pastime students listed in the top five, alongside Facebook, iPhones, texting, and laptop computers. More than half (54%) of those surveyed own smartphones, up from 41% from a year ago, reinforcing the notion that print rentals may be a short-term solution.

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