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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Students May Be Coming Around to E-Textbooks

This post has been updated.

It’s well-documented that most college students would opt to acquire print textbooks instead of digital if cost wasn’t a factor. However, students are slowly warming up to digital course materials.

Some One publisher reported that 20% of its total book units sold are in digital formats, according to Tim Haitaian, co-founder and COO of RedShelf, in his 2016 CAMEX session (E-Textbooks: The Trend is Happening Now. Are You Ready?) on March 5. While others fall more in the 2%-5% range, that's still an indicator of growing acceptance.

So who’s reading digital textbooks?

Students in the traditional college-age bracket (18-24) are more likely than older students to use digital materials for class, with this age group accounting for approximately 60%-70% of digital text sales. About 55% of digital sales go to female students, Haitaian said.

Digital readers tend to “crack” their e-books in the morning, usually between 10 a.m. and noon, and they spend around 35 minutes on average per reading session. That’s about 10 minutes longer than just a couple years ago, Haitaian noted, indicating students are getting somewhat more comfortable with studying from a screen.

However, despite the extra bells and whistles most digital materials offer, students still typically treat their digital books like print ones. Highlighting sentences is the most popular digital tool, followed by the ability to highlight entire sections. 

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