College students still like print books, says study

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Ebooks and e-readers are slow to catch on with college students, according to a recent study by OnCampus Research, a division of the National Association of College Stores (NACS) that helps companies better understand the college market.

'With all the attention given to e-books and e-readers, particularly as to their use in higher education, we wanted to cut through all the speculation and put hard numbers to it,' explained OnCampus research manager Elizabeth Riddle. 'It seems that the death of the printed book, at least on campus, has been greatly exaggerated, and that dedicated e-readers have a way to go before they catch on with this demographic. The college-aged market is definitely a growth opportunity for companies providing digital educational products.'

The OnCampus Research Electronic Book and E-Reader Device survey, conducted in early October, found that 13 per cent of college students had purchased an electronic book of any kind during the previous three months. Of that percentage, 56 per cent stated that the primary purpose of their ebook purchase was for required course materials for class.

What's more, students are reading e-books on a computer rather than a dedicated e-reading device. In the survey, 92 per cent of students said that they do not own an e-reader, and of those, 59 per cent said they don’t plan to purchase one in the next three months.

Approximately 77 per cent of the students who said they recently purchased an ebook said that they used a laptop computer or Netbook to read it. Desktop computer was the second most popular choice (30 per cent), followed at 19 per cent by a smartphone, such as an iPhone, Blackberry, or Android. Another 19 per cent reported using an e-reader like a Kindle or Nook. A tablet computer, such as an iPad, was the least common reading device used by students, selected by only 4 per cent of respondents.