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E-Textbooks: Trends


Students hate high textbook prices.  However, the research shows that they still prefer print over electronic.  Many of the studies arguing this point are problematic with small sample sizes.  However, they are surprisingly consistent with multiple studies 2013-2016 that all show that by conservative analysis, students strongly (72% - 92%) prefer print over electronic.

Many institutions of higher learning, state governments, and education policy authorities are actively promoting Open Education Resources.

Student Preferences

  • Direct Textbook. "72% of College Students Prefer Print Over Ebooks." PRNewswire. (September 1, 2015).  (accessed March 25, 2017).

  • Mennenga, Heidi A. "Nursing Student Perceptions of Digital Textbooks: A Pilot Study." Nursing Education Perspectives (National League For Nursing) 37, no. 2 (March 2016): 107-109. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 25, 2017).
    • Nursing faculty piloted e-textbooks for one course with 123 students
    • 84% preferred print textbooks
    • 78% said they were not interested in more e-textbooks.

  • Millar, Michelle, and Thomas Schrier. "Digital or Printed Textbooks: Which do Students Prefer and Why?." Journal Of Teaching In Travel & Tourism 15, no. 2 (April 2015): 166-185. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed March 25, 2017).

  • Robb, Alice. "92% of College Students Prefer Reading Print Books to E-Readers." New Republic (January 14, 2015).  (Accessed March 25, 2017).
    • This is an interview with Naomi Baron, professor of Linguistics at American University, about her book Words on Screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World
    • This interview received a lot of attention for the 92% claim. 
    • The survey size was 300 students in 5 countires in 2013. 

Initiatives Against Textbook Costs

Florida (2016):

  • Florida has been studying the growing costs of higher education in general since 2011. 
  • The 2016 survey focuses on textbook costs; but put in context of other costs since 2011.

Georgia (2015):

  • Affordable Learning Georgia

Louisiana (2015):

  • Affordable Learning Louisiana by the Board of Regents

Minnesota (2012):

Subject Guide

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