The average college student in America spent an estimated seven hundred dollars on textbooks last year. The National Association of College Storesreported more than five billion dollars in sales of textbooks and course materials.
Association spokesman Charles Schmidt says electronic textbooks now represent just two to three percent of sales.But he says that is expected to reach ten to fifteen percent by two thousand twelve.
Online versions are now available for many of the most popular college textbooks. E-textbooks can cost half theprice of a new print textbook. But students usually lose access after the end of the term. And the books cannot be placed on more than one device, so they are not easy to share.
So what do students thinkof e-textbooks? Administrators at Northwest Missouri State University wanted to find out. Earlier this year they tested them with five hundred students in twenty classes.
The university is unusual.It not only provides laptop computers to all seven thousand of its full-time students. It does not require students to buy their textbooks either. They rent them to save money. The school aims to saveeven more by moving to e-textbooks.
The students in the survey reported that downloading the books from the Internet was easy. They liked the idea of carrying lighter backpacks. And fifty-sixpercent said they were better able to find information.
But most found that using e-textbooks did not change their study habits. And sixty percent felt they read more when they were reading on paper. Inall, almost half the students said they still liked physical textbooks better.
But the survey found that cost could be a big influence. Fifty-five percent said they would choose e-textbooks if usingthem meant their textbook rental fee would not increase.
Roger Von Holzen heads the Center for Information Technology in Education at Northwest Missouri State. He tells us that administrators are...