Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Downside to E-Textbooks

There’s been plenty of research showing students are just not into electronic textbooks hype. In fact, the OnCampus Research report Student Watch 2012: Student Attitudes and Perceptions found that just 17% of student respondents even owned an e-reader and 62% of these bought the gadget just for leisure reading.

So why aren’t college students clamoring for e-textbooks? After all, they should be cheaper to purchase, plus there’s all those nifty tools, such as highlighting and interactive footnotes, geared to attract a tech-savvy generation.

The top reason for student reluctance is they’re not often finding the required book in their preferred digital format, according to the Online University staff’s look at reasons why college students aren’t buying e-textbooks. Even if students find the correct digital text, they soon discover it probably only saved them about a dollar after factoring in the cost of the e-reader, “publisher pricing decisions,” and the fact they can’t sell the title back.

Digital formats also complicate the process for students because they vary from one device to another. Add in the fact that some e-text will eat up large portions of storage space in each device, as well as that some e-text can look pretty primitive next to online learning sources, and it’s not hard to see why students might expect more from their e-textbooks than what they currently get.

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