Tuesday, February 09, 2016

College Students Not Crazy About E-Textbooks

I remember about a year ago reading (and posting) about the news that e-book sales were no longer increasing on a year-to-year basis.  At that time, such sales, while not actually in decline, seemed to have reached plateau levels. Well, this year the news is that every single one of the major e-book publishers had slight declines in e-book sales when the numbers are compared to the previous year. None of the drops are significant in terms of percentage sale, but it is striking that the decline happened straight across the board to all of them without exception.

Today I ran across this article from the Los Angeles Times about a claim that fully 92% of college students prefer printed books to e-books.  That surprises me a little considering the exorbitant amount charged these days for college texts because, for the most part, e-book versions of college texts are considerably cheaper than their printed versions.  But I know from experience that printed books work much better than e-books when it comes to detailed study, highlighting, page-marking, and the like, so the survey makes sense.
The finding comes from American University linguistics professor Naomi S. Baron, author of the book "Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World." Baron led a team that asked 300 college students in the United States, Slovakia, Japan and Germany how they preferred to read.
Physical books were the choice of 92% of the respondents, who selected paper over an array of electronic devices.
Interestingly, this L.A. Times article is based on a book called Words Onscreen that I reviewed way back on January 20, 2015, so the claim is not a new one.

Here is my review of that book. 

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