May 20, 2022

New Article: “Exploring Students’ E-Textbook Practices in Higher Education”

The following article was posted today (July 6, 2015) on the EDUCAUSE Review web site.


Exploring Students’ E-Textbook Practices in Higher Education




From the Article:

A two-year university-wide study of students’ e-textbook practices found that e-textbook use has increased and become broader demographically.

Lower cost and convenience remain the top reasons students purchase an e-textbook, not the interactive features designed to enhance learning.

The instructor’s role has not changed significantly in the past two years, suggesting the need for further professional development including increased awareness, instruction, and active modeling.

In 2014, 60 percent of participants (n = 707) reported using an e-textbook at least once in their college studies. This represents an 18 percent increase over the two-year period even though the rate of instructors requiring an e-textbook did not change over time. Nearly half of participants using an e-textbook in 2012 were required to do so by the instructor; that number remained the same in 2014. Coupled with an increase in e-textbook use, this indicates that unfamiliarity with e-textbooks dropped. In 2012, 30 percent of participants said they did not use e-textbooks because they were not familiar with them or were unaware of the option; in 2014 that number dropped to 10 percent.


Despite the increasing use of e-textbooks and the reduction in unfamiliarity with them, the number of participants voicing a preference for print books remained steady. In both surveys, around 40 percent of participants who had not used an e-textbook cited their general preference for print textbooks. In the open-ended comments, participants identified several reasons for preferring print — mostly objecting to the e-textbook option, however: eyestrain from looking at the screen too long, difficulty reading on a small device such as a smartphone or tablet, limited attention span, and technical shortcomings (“I like paper books, they don’t crash”).

Direct to Full Text Article (About 3700 Words)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( 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, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.