Books

Survey: Most Students Prefer Traditional Texts over E-Books

Nearly three quarters — 72 percent — of college students prefer traditional textbooks to electronic versions, according to a new survey from Direct Textbook.

"Textbook purchasing trends align with the survey results," according to a news release. "According to the Student Monitor, 87 percent of textbooks purchased by students in 2014 were print editions (36 percent new, 36 percent used, 15 percent rented). E-books comprised only 9 percent of the market. The remaining 4 percent was made up by file sharing."

Reasons commonly cited by students for preferring traditional books include:

  • They are easier to read;
  • Students like to physically highlight selections;
  • They're cheaper;
  • Students prefer the formatting;
  • They're easier to navigate and bookmark;
  • E-books make students' eyes hurt;
  • Students find it harder to concentrate on e-books;
  • Traditional books do not require Internet access;
  • Students like to write on the pages;
  • Tablets or laptops are not allowed in class;
  • Availability of e-books is limited; and
  • Students end up printing the pages of e-books anyway.

Among the 27 percent of respondents who do prefer e-books, common reasons for the preference include:

  • E-books are cheaper;
  • They are lighter;
  • They don't have to be returned;
  • They are more environmentally friendly than paper books;
  • They are searchable;
  • Print size and brightness is adjustable;
  • They can convert text to audio; and
  • They can be used with apps.

"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 at Direct Textbook, in a prepared statement. "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."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at jbolkan@gmail.com.

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