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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

In Spring, Students' Fancy Turns to E-Texts

Come late spring, an interesting thing happens on college and university campuses, and it’s not related to romance or spring-break shenanigans: Students suddenly start buying more e-textbooks.

The number of purchasers isn’t huge, but it’s enough to create a noticeable spike, according to Kirk Bodick, vice president of sales for Akademos, Norwalk, CT, in his Flash session on the Akademos-TextbookX Online Bookstore Trends Report at CAMEX 2013 in Kansas City. The trends report tracked student book purchases for the last three years.

Late-spring e-book sales to students “reach the highest percentage of total book sales” for the academic year, Bodick said.

Bodick speculated the uptick came from students who had tried to avoid buying course materials for class and then found themselves needing the book to study for exams. Campus store attendees in the audience confirmed their print stock levels are low late in the semester, which might leave digital books as the only fast option for students. Bodick noted online book marketplaces such as Akademos do still have used copies available at that time “but it’s a question of the quality of condition.”

But if spring e-book sales go largely to procrastinators, why isn’t there a corresponding bump in sales late in the fall term?

Bodick said early purchases by summer-term students may be augmenting the spring numbers. Another audience member suggested students may be receiving iPads or other reading devices as holiday gifts, providing a ready backup for students hoping to get by without any book.

Another possibility is the start of the third term at quarter schools may be tipping spring e-book sales.

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