In an interesting blog post, Stephen Abram considers the findings of a recent (US) research report. The original research was conducted by the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) and asked US college students about their format preferences for textbooks. BISG found that ‘nearly 75% of students…say they prefer textbooks in printed rather than etext form’. Reasons cited for this preference included the potential resale value of the books and its ‘permanence’.
About 12% of the students surveyed said the prefer etexts to printed texts because of lower cost and portability while 11% preferred to rent textbooks.
Stephen Abram’s interpretation is slightly different. The survey was conducted before what he terms the ‘explosion’ of affordable tablets and e-readers in the consumer market which will almost certainly impact the uptake and acceptability of etexts. He also feels that students considered a ‘polarised’ view (either print OR etext) when in fact a hybrid model that combines e-texts with books would be much more likely.
Abram also states that it is often difficult for people who are surveyed to compare a situation they know (in this case text books) and an ‘imagined future state’. The e-text space is evolving with textbooks and library research services beginning to integrate. The space should be watched closely, says Abram.