College students prefer print textbooks to eTextbooks?

A recent article in The New York Times claims that college students, despite being a technology generation, still opt to buy or rent textbooks instead of purchasing electronic format textbooks. We all know textbooks are expensive costing on average $700 or more for a year’s worth, but they are very heavy so would not students walking around texting want to carry their books electronically? The students sited a few reasons they stick with printed books:

1) Ease of use
2) Currently, you can not lend or trade etextbooks
3) New versions of etextbooks allow highlighting and note taking, but this is not widespread
4) No ebook buyback value which makes them not the best option when compared to renting or buying a used book
5) No standard formats and emerging technology makes it tough to decide if ebooks are the right choice

Essentially, students are used to high school textbooks, and therefore like the comfort of printed college textbooks, despite the willingness to adopt the latest and greatness electronic gadget or app. According to the National Association of Book Stores, digital books only accounted for about three percent of textbook sales this year, though they predict that amount to grow to 10-15 percent as more titles become available and more students are exposed. This is an interesting phenomena considering Amazon now reports that they are now selling more ebooks than printed books of new popular titles.

In an attempt to increase ebook exposure, Barnes & Noble College Bookstores is starting a “College Kick-Start Kit” program consisting of ramen noodles, and about a dozen classic titles like “The Scarlet Letter” to any students who download their new textbook software application, NOOKstudy. They hope this new software platform, available on Macs and PCs, coming available on their 636 campus bookstores will help educate and lure students into buying more electronic textbooks. Meanwhile a group of textbook publishers under the moniker of CourseSmart, continue to let students try for two weeks free etextbooks.

In general, our statistics here at agree that students are still overwhelmingly purchasing cheap used books or renting textbooks instead of utilizing etextbooks.


  1. I am reading a lot this days and love talking about it! I buy a lot of books, unfortunately. I should check more out of the library, although I also do that. I always (almost) buy my books used, thought. I've written about my favorite on line bookseller, Better World Books. They are non-profit. I also buy used books from Amazon for pennies + shipping. I also borrow books, but rarely. I have a hard time remembering to return them. Today I went to a local bookseller (one of 3 left in Richmond!) and bought some interesting books I'm going to blog about.

  2. Have u try the Physics Bookstore online bookstore I get all my textbooks for this semester from this bookstore. All are brand new textbooks and half price and discount textbooks and cheap textbooks. Good luck and wish some help. hehe ^_^

  3. savethekales says:

    I think even if some of us are not a permanent bad financial situation, we have experienced what you are talking about for a period of time. You have your necessities covered. I’m not sure about other websites, but I know Barnes and let’s you rent textbooks for a fraction of the price – an option until you are able to purchase your own (if you even need/want to purchase them). And it sounds trite, but if you need help, I’m here. You would be surprised how many people are so happy to help you if you ask for it.

  4. I buy used books all the time from Amazon marketplace and from Alibris,.com. It does take longer for books´╗┐ to be delivered since they use media mail rates. I try to buy the ones that have the best description. Very rarely will I buy one that has one of those generic descriptions.