OnCampus Research: “E-Books, E-Readers Begin to Catch on with College Crowd”


Findings from the March 2011 “OnCampus Electronic Book and E-Reader Device Report” by OnCampus Research have been released.

OnCampus Research is the the research division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS).

655 college students were surveyed.

Highlights via a NACS News Release

The March 2011 OnCampus Electronic Book and E-Reader Device Report backs predictions that we could be approaching the tipping point for digital reading materials among this demographic.

The results showed a 6% increase in e-book purchases of any kind when compared to a similar study done in October 2010, while fewer students are relying on laptops or netbooks to read the material. Nearly 15% fewer students said they used those devices to read e-books, while 39% said they used a dedicated e-reader, up from 19% just five months ago. [Our emphasis] “Although the vast majority of students still do not own a dedicated e-reader, this is a significant jump in five short months,” says Julie Traylor, NACS chief of planning and research.

Nearly 15% reported owning an e-reader, up from 8% in October. Of those now owning a digital e-reader, the Amazon Kindle was the most popular, with 52% of college students owning one, compared to 32% five months ago. Other top e-reader devices included Barnes & Noble’s Nook (21%), Apple iPhone (17%), and Apple iPad (10%).

Students interested in purchasing a new e-reader are most interested in the iPad and Kindle (both 27%), followed by the Nook.

[Our emphasis] Curiously, print textbooks continue as the preferred media option among this demographic. Fully 75% of the college students in the March 2011 survey said that, if the choice was entirely theirs, they would select a print textbook. This is similar to the findings of the October 2010 e-reader survey, as well as one done in the fall of 2008.

Via INFOdocket

8 Comments on OnCampus Research: “E-Books, E-Readers Begin to Catch on with College Crowd”

  1. Someone really needs to work out what’s so deficient about e-textbooks for that 75% demographic, and address those shortcomings. So far, none of the purported reasons I’ve heard sound convincing.

  2. @ Steven Lyle Jordan

    Textbooks are very expensive but can be resold to recover some of the costs. You can even rent textbooks these days. The difference in price between ptexts and etexts is not large. In almost all cases you would get out ahead if you resold the ptext as used. There are other reasons – taking of notes, jumping between pages etc. – but this economic hurdle is probably the main one.

  3. @gous: I know about this “economic hurdle”… but I’ve never seen a used textbook recoup that much in reselling; we’re usually talking about enough money recovered to manage a few good lunches, out of an entire semester’s set of books. Nickels-and-dimes aside, like I said, I don’t consider that convincing.

    Textbook usage… note-taking, bookmarking, jumping from page to page, etc… can largely be accomplished by a PDF file and a well-apportioned reader, as on a typical laptop. Some processes can arguably be made better or faster with some tweaks to the application… a reader optimized for student use.

  4. 1. Switching pages back and forth between pages multiple times—> Advantage print

    2. Having multiple books open at the same time —> Advantage print

    I’d say those are the primary reasons I’d want to stick with print if I were a student today, and they are pretty big ones for any true, deeper level of research going on.

    eBooks have the advantage of being searchable, but that’s only one of the ways that reference materials serve their users.

  5. Ebooks can only be searched if they have been properly OCRd. The one etextbook I had experience with had NOT been and so was not searchable. It also could only be viewed in a web browser (not downloaded to any kind of device) and had completely disabled any cut and paste functionality (so that to cite the book in your course work, you had to manually re-type in every single word). It also expired as soon as the course was done. And it was only about $20 cheaper. For $20 more, I would rather get the paper and be able to keep it. Since they had removed via DRM any possible advantage an electronic version might have given (search, easy citing, download to a more portable form factor etc.) I just don’t see why anyone would consider the ebook over the paper. It just struck me as a not ready for prime time. The company was Pearson Educational Media and I would not recommend them.

  6. We really won’t get a handle on what students prefer until the choice is between a pBook and an unencumbered (DRM free) eBook that is competitively priced.

    The resale factor is an important one since many students’ books are purchased by parents and/or financial aid. Reselling books is an effective way to get a little extra “walking around” money.

  7. as soon as you can buy an e-textbook with the notes and answers scribbled in by a couple semesters worth of previous students, then you might have something…

  8. I disagree. I believe that this current obsession with note taking ON the ereader is a complete red herring and one that will disappear as soon as a real range of eBook textbooks appear on the market for wide ranges of students.

    I believe most students would prefer to, or be happy to, make notes on paper notepads while reading the eReader, and filing those notes separately.

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