The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Students Still Want Print Textbooks

Another survey of college students reported a significant number prefer using print textbooks over electronic versions. In fact, 72% of more than 500 current college students said they would rather use traditional textbooks in a poll conducted by Direct Textbook, a textbook price-comparison search engine.

Printed textbooks were easier to read and the fact that students normally ended up printing e-book pages anyway were among the reasons given for preferring traditional content. Students also cited the ability to highlight passages, their own lack of focus and concentration when studying with digital content, and classroom bans on tablets and laptops as reasons for wanting traditional textbooks.

The weight of e-textbooks and the fact they didn’t have to be returned were among the reasons 27% of the respondents preferred electronic textbooks. Those students also liked that e-books are more environmentally friendly, searchable, and can convert text to audio, but some of the students indicated they preferred e-books for recreational  reading and rather than for learning.

The report noted that Student Monitor research has found that 87% of the textbooks purchased or rented in 2014 were print editions, while e-textbooks made up just 9% of the market. One surprising outcome of the Direct Textbook poll was that both students who preferred print books and those who wanted e-books cited lower costs as a reason for their format preference.

“Given the ubiquity of e-book-reading devices on college campuses, it’s interesting that students prefer print textbooks over e-books, and that purchasing behavior supports that sentiment,” said Morgan MacArthur, chief technology officer of Direct Textbook. “What’s even more interesting are the differences in perception: Both students who preferred textbooks and those who preferred e-books cited lower prices as a reason.”

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