Textbooks: It’s about economics and selection, not format

November 8th, 2010 · by spolanka · No Comments

Great article on The Scholarly Kitchen blog by Kent Anderson, who is questioning a recent survey on student preference of print textbooks.  A clip from the blog post:

Anderson says, “The survey is drawing the wrong conclusion by framing the question in terms of media choice. It’s not about print versus electronic. It’s about economics and selection.

Imagine if someone asked you if you wanted to pay more for something and have limited selection. Would you trade a cheaper format with a broader selection for something you’d calculate as more costly and less abundant? Only if you’re a devoted early adopter.

For the vast majority of students, print textbooks are economically superior to e-books simply because there’s a robust used book market for expensive print textbooks. Buy them new, sell them back. Want them cheaper? Buy them used. The market is much more favorable and robust.”  end clip

Later in the post, Anderson states, “As an aside, I have yet to find this survey released in any form other than a press release. That’s not a good sign. It makes me think the whole thing was about generating the press release.” I’ll add to Anderson’s speculation by repeating something I heard at the Charleston Conference last week.  Can you really trust surveys that boast student’s reliance on the print book which are sponsored by college bookstores?

Categories: Academic Libraries,Articles of Interest,Business Models/Pricing,Ebook Readers,Press Releases,Surveys/Statistics,Textbooks

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