Among students who prefer print textbooks, top reasons for their preference include being easier to study from, easier to flip through and easier to read than a screen. On the other hand, those preferring digital textbooks pointed out that they are easier to take places, lower in cost and environmentally friendly.
“The main reason students acquired an access code for the fall 2015 term was because their instructor required it,” noted Elizabeth Riddle, director of OnCampus Research, the research arm of NACS. “In addition to faculty, time will be an influential factor in the acceptance of digital. Students will grow more receptive to e-textbooks and access codes through use, and preferences will shift toward digital due to widespread exposure in many K-12 environments.”
Student spending on the decline since 2007-08
The NACS report indicates that while average annual spending by students on required course materials increased slightly for the 2015-16 academic year due to weighting*, there has been a downward trend for nearly a decade, influenced by options such as rentals, digital, used, open educational resources and print-on-demand. Yet the number of course materials acquired over the past three years have remained steady at nine per year.
Students spent an average of $602* on their purchased and rented required course materials last school year, compared with $563 in 2014-15 and $701 in 2007-08. (*Editor’s note: Total spending for the 2015-2016 academic year was weighted by campus type to more accurately reflect the proportion of students enrolled at two- and four-year U.S. institutions. The unweighted total spending average is $559.)
Another growing option among students is the ability to download their materials for free from the internet. Approximately 11 percent downloaded at least one material during the spring 2016 term, up from 5 percent the previous year. The frequency of students borrowing materials, whether from the campus library or other students, has remained between 10 and 13 percent over the past few years.
Material from a press release was used in this report.