Tuesday, April 10, 2012
The Puzzling State of Digital Textbook Sales
In a recent OnCampus Research study, sales data from 45 college and university campus bookstores around the U.S. showed that there was a surprising decrease in digital course material sales by 6.7%. Community college bookstores saw a drastic decline in sales by 70.4%. While 45 colleges represent a mere fraction of the overall picture, these college campuses were chosen to reflect a microcosm of higher education. [snip].
So with the recent increase of tablets and mobile phone use by students, as well as a renewed emphasis on adopting new technology on campus, why are some college stores experiencing a decline in the sale of digital course material?
Based on the research, here are 3 reasons why we might be seeing this trend.
1. Adoption is hard. [snip]/ There has to be more innovation in the digital textbook space, coupled with heavy adoption by campus administrators, before we’ll see a widespread adoption of digital materials by students.
2. Custom publishing doesn’t always work, either. In the OnCampus Research study, university stores saw a 9.1% decrease in custom publishing sales. [snip]
3. Students are opting for rental. [snip]. According to a research study conducted by Q&A Research in 2011, 21% of students rented their textbooks, with 45% of the respondents either not having the option to rent or not knowing about rentals at all. For future reference, 67% of the total students questioned said they would have been likely to rent textbooks if given the option.
Even though this report provides only a preliminary glance into the economics of the textbook market, the data does paint a general picture of how the textbook and digital course materials markets are changing. [snip]. As we’ve said before, publishers will have to get creative with digital content, and ensure that universities are adopting new technologies on campus.
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