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Monday, June 17, 2013

E-Text Revolution Is Coming, Slowly

The e-textbook revolution appears to be more of a skirmish, at least at the moment. A new study from Bowker Market Research found students and their professors are not adopting digital textbooks in great numbers and the percentage of students using them has remained flat for the last few semesters.

The study reported that just 3% of students used a digital textbook as their primary course material during the spring 2013 semester, down from 4% for the fall 2012 semester. In addition, about half of the 1,540 undergraduates participating in the Bowker survey said they “prefer the look and feel of print,” along with the ability to highlight and take notes, while a third said they choose print because they couldn’t resell a digital text.

“Students aren’t resisting digital. It’s extremely critical in their daily lives,” said Carl Kulo, U.S. market research director at Bowker, during a Digital Book World webcast. “But they are seeing more learning and monetary value in print textbooks.”

The research also found that just half of the professors surveyed make e-textbooks an option. When asked why they made the course material choices they did, faculty members cited experience with printed text, actual content inside the book, and cost to students as the top reasons.

It’s not all bad news for e-textbook adoption. The study noted that 31% of responding students said they had tried an e-textbooks and about a quarter of those students preferred the digital format.

“We believe that it’s the publishers and other educational technology companies that will drive the shift to digital,” Kulo said. “It will probably take about two to five years for the revolution to happen and it will probably happen when a critical mass of students have the device that makes the best use of the content.”

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