College Students Stand By Print Textbooks

By Catherine Groux
Posted May 21, 2013 11:00 AM

Studies show students still prefer print textbooks.
Studies show students still prefer print textbooks.

Although technology is quickly becoming an integral part of academia, many college students still prefer to use print textbooks over their digital counterparts. This was confirmed last year by a Book Industry Student Group (BISG) survey, which indicated that almost 75% of college students would rather use print textbooks than e-books due to their better look and feel.

At the same time, a 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research showed that only 16% of Americans had purchased an e-book, while a majority said they had no interest in buying one in the future, USA Today College reports.

Alysheia Gray, a 19-year-old bachelor's degree seeker at Alabama's Auburn University, told USA Today that she is one of the many college students who choose print textbooks over e-books.

"Reading books digitally hurts my eyes," Gray said. "Plus, when you have a physical copy there's no way it can un-download itself. Anything can go wrong with downloading books - it's such a hassle."

Still, not all students shy away from e-books. The BISG survey shows that about 12% of students prefer digital textbooks due to their lower cost, portability and convenience. These individuals tend to be males, online learners or students enrolled in Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs.

While college students have been slow to accept e-books, many higher education experts predict that in the years ahead, digital textbook sales will outpace those of their print counterparts. For example, an August 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center shows that almost two-thirds of college presidents believe that in the next decade, more than half of all textbooks used by undergraduates will be digital.

Joseph McDevitt, a 23-year-old student at Pennsylvania's Northampton Community College, told USA Today that he has a similar opinion as these college presidents, believing digital textbooks will soon outnumber print books.

"I think the same thing is going to happen to books that happened to the music industry," McDevitt said. "Only 10 years ago if you wanted a big music collection you'd have to go and spend thousands of dollars on vinyl records and CDs, and now MP3s have totally overrun everything. So you have 90% of the population who listens to MP3s, but you still have those guys who go out and buy old vinyl records despite new technology. I think books are going to become the same thing."

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