‘Sex vs. Textbooks’ survey doesn’t jibe with student preferences

Surveys and polls conducted by the Student Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have consistently shown that three in four college students still prefer traditional textbooks. The same surveys have made it clear that students want more textbook options, including eBooks and open-source books that could be sold online or on campus for little or no cost.

“It’s pretty clear that one option isn’t right for everybody,” said Nicole Allen, a Student PIRG spokeswoman who tracks national textbook preferences and policies. “The larger point is that students want options. … I think the [Kno] survey definitely dramatizes that situation.”

Asked whether college students would follow through with the pledge to abstain from sex for an entire year in order to avoid lugging around textbooks, Allen said, “If actually confronted with those choices, students might not want to go that far just to not carry textbooks around.”

One in 10 college students said in a fall 2010 survey that they have bought an electronic book in the past three months, and 56 percent of those who had purchased an eBook said it was for educational purposes, according to a study released last month by the National Association of College Stores (NACS) OnCampus Research Division.

Only two in 10 read the eBook on an eReader device, such as the Apple iPad or Barnes & Noble Nook. The same number read the eBook on their mobile device, which included BlackBerries and iPhones. Eight percent said they owned an eReader device.

The National Association of College Stores (NACS), a nonprofit trade organization representing 3,000 campus retailers, has also found that college students—despite their tech savvy—aren’t yet committed to the digital textbook transition.