Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Student Use Of An Online Textbook: Even If It's Free, Will They Buy It?

Student Use Of An Online Textbook: Even If it's Free, Will They Buy It? Allied Academies International Conference.Academy of Educational Leadership. Proceedings / 15 (1) / 2010  / pp. 44-49 / Sherry Robinson
The amount of money that university students spend on textbooks each year is a major concern to many groups, from students, to parents, to teachers and school administrators. One possible solution to this problem is the use of lower cost electronic textbooks. This study examines the practices of students who were offered a free online textbook or a low-cost paper version of the same book. The results show that many students did not use the book even when it was offered at no cost, and the majority of those who used the book purchased a paper copy.
Although students frequently express concerns about the price of textbooks, and many say they cannot afford to buy a given textbook for a class, almost half of the students in this survey still did not use the book even when it was offered free of charge. On the other hand, one-third of the students still chose to buy the book in order to obtain a paper copy. This is similar to Allen's (2008) findings that 60% of students would still buy a textbook even if a free e-book were offered if the paper copy was available for $30-40. It is also consistent with Vernon (2006) who expected that students would prefer the cost-savings of an e-book, but found they would rather spend money to read from paper
This research was limited to two small sections of a course given in a single semester. Future research should further examine student use of textbooks and their preferences for various formats given various prices. As e-books become more common and the technology to read them develops so that physical discomfort is reduced, readers preferences may change.
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