In A Digital Age, Students Still Cling To Paper Textbooks / New York Times / October 19, 2010 / Lisa W. Foderaro
CLINTON, N.Y. — They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But as they walk the paths of Hamilton College, a poster-perfect liberal arts school in this upstate village, students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it.
Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital books, blogs and other Web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. [snip].
For all the talk that her generation is the most technologically adept in history, paper-and-ink textbooks do not seem destined for oblivion anytime soon.
According to the National Association of College Stores, digital books make up just under 3 percent of textbook sales, although the association expects that share to grow to 10 percent to 15 percent by 2012 as more titles are made available as e-books.
In two recent studies — one by the association and another by the Student Public Interest Research Groups, a national advocacy network — three-quarters of the students surveyed said they still preferred a bound book to a digital version.
Many students are reluctant to give up the ability to flip quickly between chapters, write in the margins and highlight passages, although new software applications are beginning to allow students to use e-textbooks that way.
“Students grew up learning from print books,” said Nicole Allen, the textbooks campaign director for the research groups, “so as they transition to higher education, it’s not surprising that they carry a preference for a format that they are most accustomed to.”
That passion may be one reason that Barnes & Noble College Booksellers is working so hard to market its new software application, NOOKstudy, which allows students to navigate e-textbooks on Macs and PCs. [snip].
“The real hurdle is getting them to try it,” said Tracey Weber, the company’s executive vice president for textbooks and digital education.
For now, buying books the old-fashioned way — new or used — prevails. Charles Schmidt, the spokesman for the National Association of College Stores, ... . [snip].
A version of this article appeared in print on October 20, 2010, on page A21 of the New York edition.