Professor starts eText company to electrify textbook field

A start-up company in the industry must have a good business plan and the ability to execute it while competing with big publishers that have enormous marketing muscle as well as academics who try to distribute free books they’ve written themselves, Esser said.

If a recent survey is any indication, college students are anticipating a sudden shift away from traditional textbooks, toward digital books — whether they’re free or proprietary.

Six in 10 college students – and seven in 10 high school seniors – believe tablets will replace traditional textbooks within five years, according to findings from the Pearson Foundation’s Second Annual Survey on Students and Tablets, which was made public March 14.

Only 7 percent of college students surveyed in 2011 owned a computer tablet. In 2012, that number has spiked to 25 percent, and students now see their sleek new tablets as the inevitable replacement for their bulky, pricey textbooks.

The shift in tablet use was reflected in how college students are using the technology. Six in 10 students now use their tablet to read for fun and for educational purposes. Less than half of student respondents used tablets for those reasons in Pearson’s 2011 survey.

Pearson’s survey findings could predict a further boom in the number of tablets on campuses in 2013 and beyond: more than one-third of respondents said they intended to buy a tablet in the next six months.

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