Will E-Textbooks Replace Traditional College Texts?

In an effort to make textbooks more affordable for college students, many colleges are beginning to offer digital versions of textbooks.  Currently, traditional textbooks can be extremely expensive, often times adding addition thousands of dollars to the cost of a college education each year.  The hope is that e-textbooks will become popular and give students looking to save a bit of money, and space, an option to their liking.

While the popularity of digital textbooks has yet to take off, NACS OnCampus Research, the organization which created the 2010 Student Watch report, expects that by 2012, e-textbooks will make up 10-15% of the textbook marketplace.  In the 2010 report conducted by the organization it was reported that currently 74% of students still prefer a traditional printed textbook as opposed to the digital copy.  One of the main reasons the organization sites as a reason for the low demand is that many students are unaware that a digital option is even available.  Additionally, faculty has yet to fully embrace the move to digital textbooks.

NACS predicts that the rise in popularity will happen when the digital textbooks become more interactive.  Currently the textbooks are little more than fancy PDFs of the original printed copy.  Many e-textbooks do not offer an interactive learning environment, however NACS expects that to change as the demand for digital textbooks increases.

E-textbooks would work more like a rental for students.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a textbook they will never use again, students would be able to rent the digital copy for a set period of time.  NACS says that security features would be implemented to only allow a certain number of printed pages, and to ensure that sharing of the files is not permitted.


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