New research to understand digital textbooks

One of the goals of the State of Ohio’s strategic plan is to create more affordable textbook options for students. This article discusses some research being conducted by the University of Cincinnati and OhioLink to understand student preferences regarding electronic and print textbooks.

U Cincinnati and OhioLINK Research Digital Textbook Adoption

Campus Technology

By Dian Schaffhauser


An Ohio research project is investigating just how students would prefer to get the text for their courses–whether in hard copy form, in versions suitable for mobile devices, or in some other digital format. An initial study done in fall 2008 suggested that student age and class format are factors that influence which format a student will choose.

Researchers include Charles Ginn, a field service assistant professor with the University of Cincinnati Psychology Department, and Stephen Acker, research director of OhioLINK’s eText Project. Their statewide effort examined the results when 2,000 students enrolled in 14 introductory psychology sections were given the option of purchasing a bound, print copy of the new textbook for $134 or selecting an e-text version for $50. Since the text used in the study was new, there was no option for buying a used edition. Ginn said the study included traditional-aged students (18 to 24), non-traditional students, students taking courses in the classroom, and students taking courses online.

The survey found that 22 percent of the survey participants purchased the e-text, and that 41 percent of those e-text users reported preferring a digital textbook to the traditional hard-copy textbook. Students in online sections were slightly more likely to purchase the e-text. Traditional-aged college students were 1.73 times more likely to purchase the electronic text than students 24 years or older.

Full article available at

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