October 20, 2021

Student Response to Digital Textbooks Climbs, says New BISG Research

Here are a Few Highlights From a New Book Industry Study Group (BISG) Report:

The popularity of digital textbooks may have hit a tipping point in 2012 as preference by college students climbed significantly, according to new research from the Book Industry Study Group (BISG)’s ongoing study of Student Attitudes Toward Content in Higher Education.

The first installment in Volume Three of the study, powered by Bowker Market Research, shows that students’ preference for print over digital texts dropped from 72 percent in November 2011 to 60 percent in late 2012. During the same period, preference for online homework systems (MindTap, MyLab, McGraw-Hill Connect, etc.) rose from 9 percent to 14 percent.

The picture isn’t entirely rosy for digital texts: satisfaction with these works declined in 2012, with only 26 percent of students citing they were “very satisfied” with their digital text, down from 30 percent in 2011


The study shows a continuing decline in student commitment to owning the newest text. Less than half of students now purchase a current version of their assigned textbook, down from 62 percent in 2010. Textbook rentals continue to gain traction; now the preferred acquisition method of 13 percent of students—a significant increase over 2011’s eight percent.

The study also explores the use of tablets among students, which is growing although it continues to trail laptop and desktop PC use. In 2012, more than 37 percent of students specified they had used a tablet to read digital textbooks, up from 26 percent in 2011. The percentage of respondents specifying laptop computers fell from 82 percent to 72 percent during the same period.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.