Where Are All the Digital Textbooks? Students Don’t Want ‘Em

Digital textbooks are still not as widespread as most educators and students would have hoped, and publishers are still searching for the right middle ground when it comes to funding a well-researched title authored by experts in their fields, and producing a volume at a price that schools and students can afford.

Fortunately, the headway seems to be coming in individual titles. Students at Jacksonville State University, for example, had the option to buy not only an ebook of their English 101 texts, but it also came with the famous add-ons that industry experts have promised: practice tests, extra insights, and more in-depth lecture notes. All of that content was available for almost half the cost of a new hardcover print edition, and for around thirty dollars less than a new softcover print edition, neither of which included additional bonus material.

But now for the very sobering news: it’s not the content creators, the publishers, or even the educational institutions who are reluctantly allowing e-textbooks in their midst. It’s the students. According to a report released earlier this year, students are equally reluctant to rely on digital when given the choice as any stereotypical crusty old professor. Why? The answer may be surprisingly responsible.

Students seem to crave the look and feel of a print edition, choosing to opt for the heft of a “real” book over digital, even when the ebook edition comes with bonus content. With so many students investing for the long haul in their educations through ten years’ worth (or more) of student loans, they’re not taking any chances with content that isn’t familiar and that doesn’t come with proven results.

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