Textbook to eBook: Is the trend taking off?

As graduating students commence, we’re reminded of the educational cycle, and how different each experience of college is for every generation of students. New technology has altered the college experience significantly.

One major change is how digital learning tools have been incorporated into the curriculum. For years, many have thought eBooks would change the educational game by allowing students to purchase cheap textbooks and use links in them to enhance their learning. But, to the shock of many, students, to this point, have seemed to prefer more expensive, print versions of their textbooks.

In Forbes, Tom Malek, who works for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, wrote about this trend, “A funny thing happened on the way to the e-book revolution: students decided to stay with print. E-book adoption among college students has remained consistently, almost puzzlingly low. Studies currently show that about 3 percent of college students are purchasing e-books. If today’s students are truly digital natives, and if e-books offer so much value to students, why haven’t we seen more uptake?” He offers that college students seem to still hold onto print books because they’re used to studying out of them. Very few high schools offer eBooks as part of the curriculum (a number that’s sure to rise).

Another reason Malek gives is that eBook textbooks are simply still too expensive. Many students get their textbooks on the secondhand market for considerably less money than the current cost of an eBook textbook. His solution? Lowering the costs of the eBook textbooks, and working with university bookstores to help subsidize the  cost of the eBooks. Another step he would take is further integration of the curriculum with digital learning tools, thus making an eBook an indispensable part of the learning experience.

On Lulu, instructors publish course packs, textbooks and eBooks tailored to their own curriculum. They’ve created these integrated, immersive texts that Malek believes to be the future of textbooks and the learning experience. In the non-digital realm, one of the benefits of textbooks and course packs being published independently is that they can be revised each year without fear of an overstock of the old editions. By printing on-demand, professors and instructors can limit the amount of books they print, which is better for their wallet and the environment. .

Does it seem realistic that college students will pick up an eBook instead of a textbook? What price will be attractive to them to make this decision? Has anyone out there used an eBook in their class, either a teacher or a student?

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62 Comments

  1. Many college students these are are equipped with the digital technology that ebooks are no longer new for them. However, studying usually takes a successful place if done in where students are most comfortable. Some may prefer the digital version while others may stick to what they are used to. On the price, I think lowering it down for the students will indeed attract them to buy ebooks. If they need to change the way they will have to read their textbooks, I think, a good price will be a significant decision-maker.

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