Another article describing the evolution of textbooks from paper to digital user interface… saying digital is a summary statement, but even text on paper has a digital source. Everything is already digital but our language describes the final output…
Sales of digital textbooks still only account for a small fraction of the U.S. college market. But according to the latest report by the social learning platform Xplana, we have reached the tipping point for e-textbooks, and the company predicts that in the next five years digital textbook sales will surpass 25% of sales for the higher education and career education markets.
That figure is a revision from the company’s report last year, which predicted that one in five college textbooks would be digital by the year 2014. Due to the rate at which colleges are embracing digital textbooks, Xplana now projects that sales will grow by 80 to 100% over the next four years.
Factors Leading to The Adoption of Digital Textbooks
One of the major reasons why Xplana’s report has more optimistic figures for textbook adoption is the popularity of the iPad. Xplana’s 2010 report was published before the impact of the iPad could really be assessed. No doubt, the success of the iPad has fueled the consumption of digital content in general. But the iPad has also spawned a number of new digital textbook companies, such as Inkling.
But Do Students Really Want E-Textbooks?
An oft-cited study by the Book Industry Study Group found that 75% of college students say they prefer print textbooks. But Xplana says that rather than take that study as a sign that students will refuse use digital books, we should instead marvel that, at a time when only 1% of college textbooks are available in an electronic format, that already 25% of college students say they prefer to study this way.